City leaders gather in Singapore to discuss building better cities

SINGAPORE - City leaders gathered in Singapore on Sunday to discuss challenges and innovative solutions to build liveable cities and foster harmonious communities.

Over 100 governors, mayors and top leaders from 98 cities and regions attended the World Cities Summit Mayors Forum (WCSMF), which was themed "Liveable and Sustainable Cities".

It is part of the World Cities Summit currently being held from July 1 to 4 at the Sands Expo & Convention Center, Marina Bay Sands.

Speaking at the forum, Chairperson of the Forum and Minister of State for National Development and Trade & Industry Mr Lee Yi Shyan said a well-planned and sustainable urban development took courage as it sometimes goes against public opinion.

Municipalities and cities also needed to have the capacity in terms of organisation, financial resources and competence.

There should also be continuity to ensure consistency of policy; and the community should be engaged to seek public support, he highlighted.

City officials who were present echoed Mr Lee's sentiments about the importance of continuity of strategic plans and policies and the need to take a long term view.

They agreed on the need to involve all stakeholders such as government, civic organisations, academia and the private sector to discuss socio-economic issues in relation to transparency and trade-offs in the planning process.

They also said that community engagement is required to build trust between people and the government through feedback and ideas from residents.

Concluding the half-day session, Mr Lee said every city requires customised solutions as it has different needs, priorities and stages of development.

"Singapore remains committed to this process of mutual learning and exchange of views. I invite all to continue to visit Singapore so that we can further our bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the areas of sustainable development," he said.

Half of the attendees were new participants from ASEAN, Africa, South America, India and Russia.

There were also leaders and experts from international organisations such as the World Bank, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), UN-HABITAT and Asian Development Bank.

Next year's WCSMF will be held in Bilbao, Spain. It won the inaugural Lee Kuan Yew World Cities Prize in 2010.

The WCSMF will return to Singapore in 2014.

paullim@sph.com.sg

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