International conference «Public spaces as a place for dialogue: facilitation of the carrying out of the New agenda of the UN-Habitat for urban development in Russia and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States)» took place on June 1st&2nd, 2017.
On the first day, the conference was hosted by the PIEF (Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum) at the Saint Petersburg Pavilion, on the second day – by the ITMO University with the participation of the Administration of Saint Petersburg. The Ministry of Construction Industry, Housing and Utilities Sector of Russian Federation, UN-Habitat, the Administration of Saint Petersburg, and ITMO University were the co-organizers of the conference. The key topic of the conference was the international experience of the development of the comfortable urban environment and public spaces. The experts also discussed different approaches to urban development, and, among other things, influence of public spaces and projects of the comfortable urban environment development on the economic and social urban development. Dr. Joan Clos, UN-Habitat Chief Operation Officer and the former Mayor of Barcelona, Andrey Chibis, deputy of the Ministry of Construction Industry, Housing and Utilities Sector of Russian Federation, Nikolay Bondarenko, vice-governor
of Saint Petersburg, Sergey Kapkov, head of the Centre for the Studies of the Economics of Culture, Urban Development and Creative Industries, Aysen Nikolaev, mayor of Yakutsk, Vladimir Vasiliev, rector of the ITMO University, Vladimir Shamakhov, the Director of the North-West Institute of Management of the Russian Federation Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Zakhar Simushkin, the chairman of board of directors of the ILIM Group, etc. took part in the conference.
According Dr. Juan Clos’s, the Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) at the level of Under Secretary General by the United Nations General Assembly, presentation projects of the development of urban environment in Russia are supported by the international community, under the UN programme of the settlement development:
«They are conforming fully to the UN principles for urban development. In addition, we think that the use of the best world experience will help, it case of Russia, to avoid the error correction, and, instead of this, will prepare the ‘cocktail’ suitable for the case of each particular city».
«Working on the development of the urban environment, it is important to keep in mind the main task of the work – to turn cities into comfortable and attractive for people habitat, which will reflect the principles of equal possibilities, respect for human beings and caring attitude towards people’s creativity and intellectual potential.
Our cities should be similar to ‘incubators’, they should stimulate people’s new ideas and project, by each street or park, situated in the city», – mentioned in his speech Andrey Chibis, deputy of the Ministry of Construction Industry, Housing and Utilities Sector of Russian Federation, vice-president of the Un-Habitat III.
Nikolay Bondarenko, vice-governor of Saint Petersburg, pointed out that «at this precise point in time it is extremely important to coordinate and document the set of values and long-term guidelines that must constitute methodological basis for the planning of the spatial development of Saint Petersburg agglomeration. The principal issue here becomes the supporting of the efficient dialogue between the urbanites and the expert community. The administration of Saint Petersburg is eager to openly discuss and, if necessary, support all the compelling and constructive proposals regarding the development of Saint Petersburg». «Currently, the lack of trust is the major challenge. Citizens do not trust the authorities. However, what surprises the most is that the authorities do not trust the citizens as well. It is important to more often ask people about there needs and requests – for that we can use the Internet – and establish among the government officials the principles of openness and outspokenness. It is necessary to remember about three crucial elements when building and developing cities. Firstly, cities require clear and coherent strategy. Secondly, in order to engage citizens in the urban planning and development activities, spatial planning should take into account international experience, academic research and people’s interests and needs.
Finally, it is important to improve the management, establish openness, develop expertise in the field of urban development and introduce project-oriented approach», - claimed in his speech Vladimir Shamakhov. Summarizing the results of the conference and the tripartite negotiations between the UN-Habitat, the Ministry of Construction Industry, Housing and Utilities Sector of Russian Federation and the Administration of Saint Petersburg, the decision was taken to regard Saint Petersburg as a "centre of competences" in matters of public spaces development in Russia and a pilot region for the practical approval of the UN-Habitat set of tools for the urban development.