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The Economics of Urban Comfort
14 February 2019
14:00—15:30
KEY CONCLUSIONS
People care for changes around them, not the money spent on it

Normal living space, just a normal life should be everywhere. Therefore, this national project and all that our colleagues have been talking about is about normal human life in our communities. It is not a primary objective of what we do. Education and healthcare are important as well for an ordinary citizen. But still, judging from people’s reaction to certain decisions we make, first of all, they see what is going on around them — Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.

We should notget carriedaway by the game of numbers. Today, I mentioned a figure of 26 trillion roubles [for all national projects – Ed.]. It is a whole lot of money. But when we talk about this, we should keep in mind that people immediately convert these numbers into contemplation about what has changed for me personally. It is the most important thing — Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.

Urban development will ensure the development of the country

Why are we talking about cities? 75% of the population lives in cities. Exploring or pursuing this goal we still keep in mind small Russian communities. Nevertheless, developing places where 75% of the population lives, all the rest will benefit as well — Igor Shuvalov, Chairman, State Development Corporation "VEB.RF".

Unbiased assessment of quality of life

The Ministry is the administrator of the federal project ‘Comfortable Urban Environment’. <…> Provisions of this project, for the most part, pertain to the development. <…> Today, we are ready to publish the decree establishing the urban environment index. <…> We have to build this index up until 2024 at a fairly decent pace. <…> We want to raise the urban environment index by 30%, the number of cities with an unfavourable urban environment should be reduced by half — Vladimir Yakushev, Minister of Construction, Housing, and Utilities of the Russian Federation.

Building a comfortable city begins with changing the attitude

We have to overcome thinking in categories of ‘us vs. them’. Here ‘we’ are, a power that sits in a comfortable house with a smooth driveway, and all ‘they’, who criticise us, dislike us and are suspicious of everything. We should sit together, and realise that we are allies, not opponents. I believe that this is the essential part — Andrei Sharonov, Dean, Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO.

Urban logistics is essential for investors

Railway transport is the future. It is environmental friendliness, cleanliness, convenience, Wi-Fi access, personal office on the move through the city, and it is public transport. Recently, we have done a lot to build good logistics within cities, but it is not only the transport, but it is also seamless technology, a railroad, taxi, buses — Oleg Belozerov, President, Chairman of the Board, Russian Railways.

It is not just Lastochka. It immediately affected the city’s and the region’s economy. We have two fairly large companies that decided that the commute is now comfortable enough for middle management to comfortably reach Ivanovo in a day, so they resolved to set up branches of their companies in our city — Stanislav Voskresensky,, Governor, Ivanovo Region.

ISSUES
Lack of experience in developing a comfortable city

In 2014, together with Tatneft Company, we did a major renovation of the Gorky Park of culture and leisure. <…> And when we started looking for where and how’s, we turned to Moscow, which had worked on these issues before us. And then Natalia Fishman appeared in sight, and we had to change a lot of things — Rustam Minnikhanov, Head of the Republic of Tatarstan.

Paving stones, a street light, a bench, a trash bin are an improvement as perceived by a regular municipality. But for 30–40 years they did not deal with extensive improvements in Russia. There were more important things to think of. And, except for Moscow, there was not much experience in 2015 — Natalia Fishman, Aide to the President of the Republic of Tatarstan.

Small business is essential for urban development

A city needs a contemporary concept and development plan, along with new residential neighbourhoods and public spaces. <…> A new city block, a new start need more than large infrastructure projects. The heart and quality of this life can only be obtained through small, medium-sized and micro enterprises providing this comfort — Igor Shuvalov, Chairman, State Development Corporation "VEB.RF".

SOLUTIONS
Search for mutually beneficial partnerships between local authorities and business for urban development

Why Gusev? In 2007, we travelled all the small cities of the Kaliningrad Region. We chose Gusev for two reasons: first, because fairly young and fast learning people live there, and second, Gusev offered us suitable conditions. <…> Then we invested in the social environment. <…> By all means, out of six billion we invested in Gusev, at least one billion was non-production expenses. We invested in the park, in the car free village, nurturing communication and kindergartens — Konstantin Aksenov, Vice President for Strategic Development, GS Group.

The lower wages, the low cost of land and, most importantly at that time, the willingness of local authorities to make changes along with a well-defined strategy of cooperation with an investor. <…> What is the economic effect of cooperation between the Technopolis GS and the city of Gusev? From 2007 to 2018, the revenue of the city budget increased from 380 million to 1.4 billion roubles. <…> The average wage grew from 10 to 30 thousand roubles. Also, the gross municipal product quadrupled over this time; the unemployment rate dropped from 4 to less than 1%. <…> Over the ten years, the population of a small town has not shrunk, but grew by 1%,” — Alexander Kitaev, Head of the Administration of the Gusevsky City District Municipal Structure.

“When it comes to social environment, schools needed by our employees and the city residents, kindergartens, other infrastructure, houses, we have an excellent project. <…> We bring cultural events to Tobolsk, we invest in public spaces as much as we can — Dmitry Konov, Head of the Administration of the Gusevsky City District Municipal Structure.

The comprehensive programme for the development of urban infrastructure is simply called Tobolsk 2020. Tobolsk residents voted for more than 40 sites to be selected for this programme, many of which have already rolled out: ten sports facilities, <…> 18 educational establishments (we are building new schools, a kindergarten specialising in math and physics education — Alexander Moor, Governor of Tyumen Region.

Citizens should be involved in the life of the city

Citizens should take [part] in deciding what the city should look like, and we also have such index in our federal project. <…> Thirty per cent of people living in a municipality over 14 years of age, by 2024 should vote on all issues related to the improvement of the city — Vladimir Yakushev, Minister of Construction, Housing, and Utilities of the Russian Federation.

The actions, the result is most appreciated when people do something for people. <…> Involvement in the implementation process is also critical. We need to gradually move away from this rhetoric of national projects, activities, plans, trillions towards the involvement of people in the implementation of specific actions and projects in real neighbourhoods — Maxim Oreshkin, Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation.

Scientific and educational centres appeal to young people

Scientific and educational centres in terms we are using today <…> is an intellectual framework of urban agglomeration. These are the links, the programmes that will ensure a sustainable future of cities, which will draw in young people, who at the end will have innovative technology projects created here, in these cities. They will alter these cities, and this is a production line that will inevitably produce only the best practices — Mikhail Kotyukov, Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation.

The material was prepared by the Russian news agency TASS