On July 19, 2016, the Ministry of Construction (MOC), in collaboration with the Embassy of Belgium and The Asia Foundation (TAF), organized the workshop “Progressive cities as resilient Cities: Why governance matters”
Attended at the workshop were representatives from the Embassy of Belgium, The Asia Foundation (TAF), the Vietnam Urban Forum, and various international and Vietnamese experts working in urban development area.
In his opening speech at the workshop, Dr. Nguyen Tuong Van – the Director of the Urban Development Agency said that the urban areas in Vietnam has increased in quantity and been improved in quality. Currently, there are appropriately 790 urban areas. These urban areas have been playing an important role, being an impetus for economic development during the course of industrialization and modernization of Vietnam. Urban planning has been developing and is managed systematically across regional planning, general urban planning , zoning, detailed planning and urban design. Urban technical infrastructure has been invested and constructed in a synchronous and modern manner. In addition, departments and agencies of the Vietnam Government have been paying greater attention to urban architecture and landscape, aiming at creating character in the appearance and structures for urban areas.
As said by Dr. Nguyen Tuong Van, apart from achievements gained, urban development in Vietnam is facing many challenges including rapid urbanization leading to uncontrolled urban functions and architecture forms, urban development in many places exceeding management capacity of local governments, and many other implications such as traffic jams, waterlogging, river tides, sea level rise, and potential risks from climate change occurring nationwide.
At the workshop, panelists discussed new concepts in urban development including progressive cities as resilient cities, practical experience of Korea in urban management towards progressive cities, renovation effort and the resilience improvement of Ho Chi Minh City.
In his presentation at the workshop, Prof. Michael Douglass from the Asia Research Institute and Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy – National University of Singapore said that with Asia expected to add more than a billion people to its cities by the end of this century, attention in this world region was turning toward cities for improving capacities for resilience in meeting urgent social, economic and environmental concerns.
Therefore, in addition to cities preparing for global climate change, they have to become more resilient in the face of the increasing magnitude and frequency of environmental disasters, the great majority of which occur in Asia. In responding to these two intersecting megatrends of urbanization and the Anthropocene, a key question asks how cities can gain such resilience in ways that further both human flourishing and planetary environmental well-being.
Prof. Michael Douglass shared that the concept of progressive cities placed human flourishing at the center. Four dimensions, or pillars, of cities and their processes of governance were posited as being crucial in supporting human flourishing: inclusion in public life, distributive justice, social conviviality, and environmental well-being. As a holistic concept, the city must be judged across all dimensions.
Also at the workshop, Prof. Myung-Rae Cho of Dankook University in Korea presented a report about “Seoul’s Work towards a Progressive City – Governance and Policy Reform”. He said that Seoul had been doing good work of building a humane and modern city through two innovative strategies named ‘Agenda Innovation’ and ‘Governance Innovation’. Such progressive urban reform movements can be made based on civil society movements for equal economic conditions, a sustainable environment, and democratic governance based on “civicism” during pre-development period and under state collective support and management mechanism at both center and grassroots levels.
The workshop concluded by Dr. Nguyen Tuong Van expressing his thanks to all delegates for their constructive discussions and useful experience sharing on urban management role in cities which contribute to help the Ministry of Construction continue adjusting its action plans during the course of investment for and construction of Vietnamese urban areas towards environmentally friendly, sustainable, adaptive and effective responses to climate change.
(Translated and reposted from the Ministry of Construction’s website)