Metropolitan governance issues

On 16 mei 2016, in bestuur, participatie, by Zef Hemel

Read in Brookings.com of 29 April 2016:

This week, some ninety students Urban Studies at the University of Amsterdam will finalize their course on Cities in Transition by passing their exams. Six weeks long they have studied urban transitions in Moscow, Istanbul, Seoul, Toronto, and Amsterdam, all related to globalisation ànd regionalisation. They read papers of Allen Scott, Saskia Sassen, Peter Hall, Engin Isin, Michael Porter, Thomas Courchene, Ian Buruma, and John Friedmann. They discovered that many cities outperform countries. Last week lecture and workshops were on governance issues. How can the global city-regions of the future be governed and how will metropolitan planning look like if city-regions will be connected in global urban networks? We discussed this issue in the temporary People’s Industry Palace (Volksvlijt 2056) in the Public Library of Amsterdam. Wonder if they also read Kemal Dervis and Bruce Katz. In their article on the website of the Brookings Institution, the two – Dervis the vice-president and director of Global Economy and Development, Katz the cross-disciplinary Centennial Scholar at the Brookings Institution –, claim that governing cities will be the central challenge facing nearly all countries over the next century.

Dervis and Katz think a fundamentally stronger understanding of how governance relationships are structured and function is necessary. “This is critical at a time when inequality among cities – even within the same country – is growing at a rate just as worrying as inequality within a particular urban economy.” Brookings Institution will start a research on how urban and metropolitan governance nowadays works in a comparative context. “We will try to learn from those that have been most successfull and understand the underlying reasons for success as well as the remaining challenges.” My students know this, they have prepared themselves. End of the week they can reflect on how the key powers and responsibilities are distributed in different nations and cities among different levels of government and how difficult it is for city governments to deal with fiscal constraints and debt burdens. Their comparative research on governance issues in five global cities ended in Volksvlijt 2056, Amsterdam. The exhibition annex program illustrates how thousands of citizens can get involved in these governing issues and help generate a kind of collective intelligence on a regional scale, only in twelve weeks time.

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The real blind spot

On 13 mei 2016, in landschap, regionale planning, by Zef Hemel

Read in ‘Blind spot’ (2016) of Vereniging Deltametropool:

Got a free copy of ‘Blind spot’, a Dutch glossy on metropolitan landscapes. Huge pictures, huge maps, huge volume. The well designed publication “aims to illustrate the quality of a metropolitan landscape contributing to the economic success of the region by analyzing and drawing comparison from ten international case studies”: Rhein-Ruhr, London, Toronto, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Paris, Johannesburg, Milan, Taipei and Deltametropolis. Deltametropolis is a summation of cities and villages in the Netherlands, totalling a number of 10 million inhabitants, which makes a territory more than double the size of the former Randstad area. That means half of the country is included, half is excluded. The authors claim the one half is a metropolis. Which it is not, of course, because it is more countryside than city, a chaotic suburban landscape filled with highways, airports, railway tracks, shopping malls, green houses, factory outlet centers, golf courses, stables, office parks. Still, the promotors think it is green and it should be protected. That’s why they are lobbying with the help of this new glossy, comparing their work with those of colleagues in London, Paris and Rio. “Do we use the metropolitan landscape to our economic advantage and do we invest enough in its development and conservation?” Apparently they want more investments in landscape designing and engineering, so they are lobbying for themselves, hoping for a strong client. And yes, Dutch landscape architects were hard hit by the financial crisis.

Distressing is how these architects and government institutions systematically misinterpret cities and governance issues of metropolitan regions. “Despite several attempts since the 1950s, the ‘Randstad’ metropolitan region in the west of the Netherlands has never produced a single metropolitan government. The rural and equalitarian spirit of Dutch politics, with preference towards several smaller independent cities as opposed to a single cosmopolitan center of power and culture, largely explains the lack of an overarching governing body.” Apparently they lack a planning background. I mean, which of the ten metropolitan regions mentioned in this glossy has an overarching governing body? Zero. Why? Because they develop themselves bottom-up. Why exaggerating the Dutch metropolis? It simply does not exist. Why asking for a strong government? Central government in the Netherlands is already too strong. The whole atmosphere of the glossy gives off an odor of strong centralized authoritarianism: a romantic yearning for large scale design interventions, big money, state power, top-down planning. Nothing learned from the crisis. That’s the real blind spot.

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Veiligheidsutopieën

On 11 mei 2016, in openbare ruimte, politiek, by Zef Hemel

Gehoord in de OBA te Amsterdam op 9 mei 2016:

Centrale vraagstelling van Marieke de Goede, hoogleraar Politicologie aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam, was: wat gebeurt er als overheden private bedrijven vragen om op te treden als quasi-politie in het bestrijden van misdaad, corruptie en terrorisme? De Goede sprak de derde Amsterdamlezing van dit jaar in het tijdelijke Paleis voor Volksvlijt aan de Oosterdokskade te Amsterdam, een serie lezingen van de Wibautleerstoel over de toekomst van Amsterdam, Europa en de wereld. Haar onderwerp: speculatieve veiligheid in Europa. Ze vertelde over 9/11, de bevindingen van de 9/11 Commission, allerlei nieuwe vormen van terrorisme en de EU-samenwerking die hierdoor een impuls heeft gekregen. In dit nieuwe veiligheidsbeleid wordt veel verantwoordelijkheid gelegd bij bedrijven: banken, vliegmaatschappijen, Twitter, Facebook. Zij moeten de overheid tijdig waarschuwen, wet- en regelgeving dwingt hen om uiterst alert te zijn. De richtlijnen buitelen zelfs over elkaar heen. Bedrijven investeren fors in zoek- en speuracties. Er ontstaat een ingewikkeld landschap, hele complexe regelgeving waarin de publieke ruimte steeds meer wordt afgebakend.

Het veiligheidsbeleid krijgt zelfs speculatieve trekken omdat overheden tegenwoordig voorbereid willen zijn op het onverwachte. Veiligheidsdiensten willen nieuwe vormen van terrorisme als het ware kunnen voorspellen. Vooral 9/11 heeft in dit opzicht veel betekend. Van preventie gaat het naar ‘preemption’, het willen ingrijpen nog voordat het kwaad is geschied. De Goede noemde dit ‘een nieuwe veiligheidsutopie’. Dit nieuwe toekomstgerichte veiligheidsdenken, vertelde ze, zet in op fantasievol omgaan met gegevens, op nieuwe vormen van scenarioplanning en zelfs oefeningen in de realiteit, daarnaast op het onderling verbinden van allerlei databestanden, waardoor alledaagse transacties ineens in de frontlinie komen te liggen. Hoe verhoudt het nastreven van deze utopie zich tot privacywetgeving en tot de vrijheid van meningsuiting van individuele burgers? De EU, vertelde De Goede, heeft op dit laatste altijd de nadruk gelegd, maar ze liet aan de hand van voorbeelden ook zien dat de Europese politici na elk incident verder opschuiven. Bedrijven en banken krijgen hierdoor steeds meer macht. In Groot-Brittannië heeft Barclays zelfs rekeningen ingetrokken van klanten omdat deze bedragen overmaakten naar Somalië. Wat moet je als burger wanneer je bankpas wordt ingetrokken? Kortom, onderzoek naar dit complexe en dynamische veiligheidslandschap is dringend geboden. Graag wilde ze weten of er ook bankiers waren in de zaal. Die waren er niet, helaas.

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Where will the Chinese tourists go?

On 2 mei 2016, in Geen categorie, by Zef Hemel

Read in ‘Aerotropolis’ (2011) of John Kasarda and Greg Lindsay:

 

Last Thursday I met Wade Shepard, author of ‘Ghost Cities of China’ (2015) in Amsterdam. It was his first time in the Low Countries. Wade, who is from Buffalo USA, is living in China for a long time now. I showed him around in Volksvlijt, the exhibition on the future of the Amsterdam region in the Public Libraby. We talked about China and the future. He told me he is writing a new book on Chinese investments in infrastructure and business abroad, based on the new imperial policy of the Chinese government: buying land, building infrastructure, moving people around in Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Investigating the new Silk Road from the heartland of China to Europe the Chinese are planning, made him think he should visit Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Are the two Dutch cities preparing themselves for Chinese capital? Amsterdam airport always was innovative in developing concepts; its Airport City the Chinese are copying now on a grand scale. What next? And what is Amsterdam’s latest response? And will Rotterdam attract Chinese railcargo via the new Betuwe railtracks? And where will all the Chinese tourists go?

His talk reminded me of the book Greg Lindsay wrote on John Kasarda’s ‘Aerotropolis’ concept. The last chapter of the book is on China. Lindsay focuses on the instant megacities on the Chinese coast, that are based on industrial clusters and air cargo, capable of supplying the entire world with goods. “China is taking Kasarda’s logic of the Aerotropolis – an urban machine not for living but for competition – to global scale.” The story of modern China, he stresses, is the story of second-day air. “Research by the World Bank suggests the reason China’s megacities have grown so big, so fast is that the returns to scale have grown so massive.” In its Eleventh Five-Year Plan, the Chinese government ammounced that it would build a hundred new airports by 2020. Besides airports, China laid many miles of high-speed railroad track, thus developing “a world-class system for moving people and goods quickly, cheaply, and reliably across any distance…. There is nothing to stop them.” By the time they’re finished in 2020, 82 percent of the population – 1.5 billion Chinese – will live within a ninety-minute drive of an airport, nearly twice the number today. Before long, China’s tourists will outnumber their goods. Fascinating, isn’t it?  So is Amsterdam ready? I told Wade about the new Chinese six-star hotel coming to Amsterdam. Wade and I started smiling.

 

De reus is ontwaakt

On 26 april 2016, in politiek, wetenschap, by Zef Hemel

Gehoord op 25 april 2016 in de OBA te Amsterdam:

De Amsterdamlezing van Rens Vliegenthart, hoogleraar Communicatiewetenschappen aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam, stond gisteravond in het teken van Europa. Hoe berichten de media over Europa en worden wij burgers door die berichtgeving beïnvloed? Vliegenthart begon met op te merken dat liefst 80 procent van alle Europese wetgeving nog altijd geen enkele media-aandacht krijgt en dat lange tijd Europa überhaupt geen onderwerp was waaraan kranten, tijdschriften of televisie aandacht besteedden. Europa leek op een reus die sliep. Een regelrecht dieptepunt waren de verkiezingen van 1999, toen in Nederland slechts één nieuwsitem rond Europa werd geteld, en nog in 2004 voerde kamerlid Ton Elias campagne met de leuze ‘Europa best belangrijk’. Daarna ontstonden binnen de EU echter politieke conflicten en volgens Vliegenthart trekken conflicten altijd media-aandacht. Sindsdien wordt er levendig over Europa bericht en voeren wij burgers over het onderwerp felle discussie. Europa is daarmee voor ons veel belangrijker geworden. Het Oekraïne-referendum, hoe verwarrend ook, vormt daarvan het voorlopige hoogtepunt en de stemming over de Brexit in juni zal, verwacht hij, nog meer belangstelling genereren. De peilingen lieten dit zien, en ook hoe deze door optredens van politici worden beïnvloed.

Vliegenthart vertelde boeiend over de driehoek politiek-media-burgers en hoe deze voortdurend op elkaar reageert. Het onderzoek op de UvA meet en telt al deze interactie; daarvan gaf hij interessante voorbeelden. Maar mensen in de zaal vonden zo’n driehoek een te eenvoudige voorstelling van zaken. Actiegroepen, NGO’s, lobbyisten, bloggers, sociale media als Twitter en Facebook roeren zich immers ook. Het landschap is veel complexer. Vliegenthart was het hiermee eens en bevestigde dat modern media-onderzoek eigenlijk bestudering van big data vereist. Toch wilde hij benadrukken dat sociale media vooral door politici worden gebruikt en dat journalisten hier rechtstreeks van aftappen. En lobbyisten werken liever in een schemerduister, dus hun werk brengen wetenschappers moeilijk aan het licht. Als voorbeeld noemde hij het gebruik van Twitter door Geert Wilders. Wilders communiceert niet via de media, maar werkt met tweets: Twitter gebruikt hij als een enorme roeptoeter. En Europa? Vliegenthart bleef positief. Europa staat nu volop in de belangstelling. De reus is definitief ontwaakt. Voor een ineenstorting van de Unie was althans hij niet bang.

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15 Years of Amsterdam School

On 25 april 2016, in kunst, by Zef Hemel

Seen on 24 April 2016 in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam:

Great exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam on interior design of the Amsterdam School artists De Klerk, Kramer, Krop and Van der Mey. On the top floor of the museum, over 500 objects are on show in some fifteen rooms, each one with its own theme and atmosphere, all chronologically organized. Each room captures the visitors, together they let people experience a unique history of Amsterdam urban art. Indeed, it’s an explosion of exuberant works of very talented sculptors, designers, and architects. Why Amsterdam? How come? The movement of the Amsterdam School, now hundred years old, emerged after the New Art and Art Nouveau schools, it began in 1916, when the phantasmagoric Scheepvaarthuis at the Prins Hendrikkade opened its doors,and ended in 1928 with the celebration of the Olympic Games in Berlage’s Amsterdam South extension. Then Wall Street crashed, which ended all building not only in Amsterdam, but in all cities of the world. A depression followed, nation-states took over, a war seemed inevitable. Cities burned.

Pity that the organizers didn’t tell the whole story of Amsterdam’s Second Golden Age. All these great works of art were only made possible thanks to the fast economic growth of Amsterdam, which began after 1864, symbolized by the opening of the Amsterdam version of Crystal Palace – het Paleis voor Volksvlijt. True, there are historic films to be seen at the entrance. These fragments show a vibrant city life at the beginning of the twentieth century, the new port and the tramways, new buildings, still slums and poverty, but mostly optimistic people walking, driving, going to the movies, recreating in their new neighborhoods. Clocks are symbols of the new times. They seem  to emphasize a bright future, no looking back as if people forgot that all this great art was built on the Dutch colonies, the Great War, Sarphati, human thrift. So only after fifty years of hard work and city expansion the citizens could harvest. Amsterdam doubled in size. Amsterdam South is the fruit of this grand era. In 1929, when it ended, Berlage was halfway implementing his plan. It ended when the Dutch government intervened and started cutting the municipal budgets because of the crisis. Do visit the South expansion and experience a true urban renaissance! It lasted only fifteen years. Afterwards it never happened again, at least not in this city. Amsterdam became a sleepy, provincial town.

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Unsustainable Urban Delta

On 22 april 2016, in duurzaamheid, economie, by Zef Hemel

Read in Het Parool of 15 April 2016:

Last week they forced me to move to another lecture hall at the University of Amsterdam. They told me the Dutch prime-minister Mr. Rutte was expected to come. He would give a lecture on ‘How the Netherlands is functioning’, and he needed my room. So I asked my students to move to the next hall and listen to my lecture on Global Cities over there. Afterwards I was wondering what Mr. Rutte had told his audience. In the newspaper next day I read that he had been speaking of the Netherlands in terms of a smart, innovative country we should be proud of. We’re one of the best in the world! Very stimulating indeed. But then he made a mistake. “It’s not a problem at all that the Netherlands lack megacities,” he lectured. See our country as one big colaborating city. When Amsterdam goes on a trade mission and sees opportunities for food or agriculture, the mayor invites the rector of the Wageningen University to join him. Then you could say: Wageningen is not Amsterdam. But on a world scale, Amsterdam is Wageningen-West.” Very funny. Mr. Rutte better had joined my students and learn more about Global Cities. (Photo: Mats van Soolingen)

Are the Netherlands one big collaborating city? Surely not. If the country is conceived as one big city, it would be one of the most polluted and least sustainable cities in the world. The ecological footprint of the Netherlands is one of the heaviest. If everyone were to adopt the Dutch lifestyle, the planet’s natural resources would be exhausted by 2030. But that’s no problem to our prime-minister. The same day he made his bold statement at the University of Amsterdam, he also launched the ‘Sustainable Urban Delta’-campaign at the Innovation Expo on the banks of the river IJ. Can you believe it? In terms of global hectares, the Dutch footprint measures 6.34 gha. This is twice the size of the Brazilian footprint and six times the size of the Indian ecological footprint. For the earth to support itself, scientists estimate that an ecological footprint of 1.8 gha is permissible. More than twenty years ago researchers reported that the Netherlands required a land mass fifteen times its current size to support of Dutch consumption levels of food and resources. So shame on us. Our prime-minister should aim for one big megacity of 17 million inhabitants, to begin with doubling the size of Amsterdam. That would make a difference, also in terms of innovation. But he will not. He’s only focused on boosting the economy, summoning his subjects to collaborate, without comprehending that megacities are true economic engines ànd far more sustainable than a conurbation of many small cities and villages. How sad.

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Keesmaat will win

On 22 april 2016, in regionale planning, by Zef Hemel

Heard on 21 April 2016 at the University of Amsterdam:

Burton Hamfelt, Canadian architect, gave a great guest lecture on Toronto in the Cities in Transition Programme at the University of Amsterdam. It was a tale of two Toronto’s: one suburban (the Ford Nation), one urban, one poor, one rich, one neglected, one mediatised. Over the last ten years Toronto has changed in a tremendous way, so did the way people talk about the city. In the sixties and seventies, Toronto was viewed as a boring, social city, nowadays it is a keen investment in real estate, an expensive city ranked high in many global city bench marks. Sure, Toronto is immigrant friendly and booming, every years it grows with another forty thousand inhabitants, the metropolitan region counts 6 million people, the city itself 2,8 million. There are no refugee camps like in the Netherland. Refugees are staying with Toronto families. Downtown is densifying in an unknown pace, high rise is the new normal, housing is getting unaffordable, it seems everybody wants to live on those few square meters, which is strange, because Canada is such a big country. Downtown is a walkable space, which has been turned into a festival playground. Polynuclearity seems to be totally absent. The only thing that counts is the land value in the inner section. Will it continue to rise? Can it hold on?

Hamfelt showed films of Jane Jacobs walking on the sidewalks of Toronto in the sixties, Glenn Gould driving through Toronto suburbs, chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat talking to Richard Florida on sound infrastructure planning. Why is Toronto becoming a cosmopolitan global city, while other Canadian cities like Calgary are becoming provincial and even shrinking? And why are the suburbs neglected? It seems everybody wants to live in the city centre nowadays. Hamfelt tried to explain: it’s either you want a car or not. A car is expensive. If you don’t want one, you prefer to live in the city centre, if you do, your future is in the suburbs. Out of this  alchemy came mayor Rob Ford, who died last year at the age of forty-six. Hamfelt showed maps of Toronto, illustrating the political landscape after the last elections: it’s the landscape of obesity, is the landscape of the suburbs, is the political landscape of Ford and his populist party. Nicholas Köhler in The New Yorker of 24 March 2016: “Ford was articulating the grievances of a forgotten, largely suburban constituency, but his strategy also resonated with others, and on election day voters in some of the city’s most progressive neighborhoods cast ballots for him.” Hamfelt opposed the thick, vulgar Ford against the slim, intellectual Keesmaat. He thinks Keesmaat will win.

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Angst, sensatiezucht en idealisme

On 19 april 2016, in geschiedenis, by Zef Hemel

Gehoord op 18 april 2016 in de OBA te Amsterdam:

Christianne Smit, universitair hoofddocent Politieke geschiedenis aan de Universiteit Utrecht, vertelde afgelopen maandagavond een prachtig verhaal over de tweede Gouden Eeuw van Amsterdam in een volgepakte theaterzaal van de OBA, tijdelijk omgetoverd in het Paleis voor Volksvlijt. Het was de eerste Amsterdamlezing van dit jaar, georganiseerd vanuit de Wibautleerstoel aan de UvA, een reeks deze keer gewijd aan de derde Gouden Eeuw. Aan de hand van haar historische onderzoek, opgetekend in ‘De Volksverheffers: sociaal hervormers in Nederland en de wereld 1870-1914’ (2015), schetste Smit een tamelijk onrustig beeld van Amsterdam, toen de kloof tussen rijk en arm snel groter werd, veel migranten naar de grote stad trokken, het platteland leegliep en de samenleving uit elkaar dreigde te vallen. De parallellen met het heden waren opvallend. De Amsterdamse elite van destijds, vertelde ze, wilde de boel bij elkaar houden en het waren de liberalen die daartoe tal van initiatieven namen; veelal betrof het jonge juffrouwen, ongetrouwde dochters van rijke burgers, wier idealistische werk deels werd ingegeven door optimisme, deels door angst. Ze trokken de arme buurten in, vaak uit sensatiezucht, maar vooral om gewone mensen die achterliepen vooruit te helpen; ze wilden de arbeiders iets leren, iets bijbrengen, zonder dat deze tot de middenklasse konden toetreden, “want dat kon gewoon niet.” Zo begon de tweede Gouden Eeuw – door het creëren van een grootstedelijke gemeenschap, het ontwikkelen van sociale cohesie.

Opmerkelijk was dat veel van die initiatieven rechtstreeks afkomstig waren uit Londen, dat niet alleen in de ernst van de maatschappelijke problemen Amsterdam verre overtrof, maar dat ook aan de lopende band innovaties produceerde.  Want zo zijn metropolen: hun oplossingsvermogen is veel groter dan die van kleine steden. Smit noemde het echtpaar Barnett dat met Toynbee Hall in East End het eerste buurthuis ter wereld stichtte. Ze organiseerden er leesclubs, cursussen, concerten, debatavonden en lezingen. Rijke studenten uit Oxford en Cambridge konden er aan den lijve ondervinden hoe het was om als arme stakker te leven. Toynbee Hall, een robuust Brits landhuis te midden van krotten, was niet minder dan een sociaal laboratorium dat ook in Nederland de aandacht trok. Smit noemde het Volkshuis in Leiden (1899), de Toynbee Vereniging (1895) en Ons Huis in de Rozenstraat in Amsterdam (1892). Ook Floor Wibaut zou na zijn verhuizing naar Amsterdam aangestoken worden door het virus en een Toynbee vereniging oprichten. Smit wees erop dat nog steeds overal in Amsterdam buurthuizen bestaan, net zoals er nog talrijke openbare bibliotheken functioneren. De sociale innovaties van destijds waren dus buitengewoon succesvol. Ze horen bij een infrastructuur die het idee van democratie moest helpen verspreiden en het pad effenen naar emancipatie. Nee, de socialisten liepen in deze niet voorop. Die wilden hun eigen buurthuizen, maar ze wilden bovendien een schietbaan om de revolutie voor te bereiden, echter een vergunning daarvoor kregen ze niet. En toen de buurthuizen en bibliotheken iets te succesvol bleken, nam de overheid het van de weldoeners over. Maar dat was veel later, zo rond de Eerste Wereldoorlog.

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Beyond Big Plans

On 15 april 2016, in duurzaamheid, economie, by Zef Hemel

Read in ‘Beyond Seun-Sangga (2015):

Last Thursday Hyeri Park, an urban planner from South-Korea who’s living in the Netherlands, gave a great lecture at the University of Amsterdam on ‘Seoul Mutations. Another Story after Fast Urban Growth in Asia’. Mrs. Park told the students about the ‘Miracle on the Han river’, which took place in the sixties and seventies, and also she focused on what happened afterwards. In only fourty years, the South-Korean capital grew from 1 million to 1o million; the metropolitan region nowadays counts almost 25 million inhabitants – half the population of the Korean peninsula. In 1997 came the crisis, and another economic crisis followed  in 2007. She pointed at how poverty since then is growing, and how the rich are getting richer. She introduced the policy of New Town Development of 2008, when the government tried to intervene and turn poor neighborhoods in the cities’ north into more prosperous districs. This new policy failed: big plans did not work out. The property owners, backed by construction corporations, were actually in control. Corruption is rampant. So the question is, how can a city like Seoul develop itself in a more balanced and sustainable way?

In ‘Repositioning of the City Regions: Korea after the crisis’, Mr. Won Bae Kim wrote that the competitiveness of a city region depends on a whole series of factors, including its process of governance, the social and economic infrastructure, the quality of its human capital, the quality of its natural environment, and the capability of its local institutions. The key factor in affecting the rise and fall of local economies like the one in Seoul lies in local adaptability. Mr. Kim thought a radical departure from the centralized model of governance of the past in Seoul is needed. Alternative forms of governance are to be developed. That was in 2001. This week, Mrs. Park gave great examples of horizontal strategies in Seoul, some of them based on a conference she and Mrs. Vitnarea Kang organized last year in Seoul City Hall, called ‘Beyond Big Plans’. The new approach of the Seun Sangga area for instance is promising. You might call it a ‘platformization’ of a poor neighborhood in the inner city, an area where traditional industrial clusters are becoming more productive, while introducing new ones and accommodating dfferent users. This bottom-up strategy, which focuses on cultural heritage, walkability and public engagement, is far more fertile than the traditional neoliberal masterplanning of the starchitects and urban designers. The government needs to involve different stakeholders in the decision-making process and reflect their interests in their future plans. Seoul is in the process of adopting these kind of open strategies. Very promising indeed.

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