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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

‘Creating a liveable city needs support of its residents’

Aarefa Johari, Hindustan Times   July 07, 2012
First Published: 22:58 IST(7/7/2012) | Last Updated: 23:01 IST(7/7/2012)

In the EIU survey rankings, all Indian cities have low scores on the parameter of global appeal. Khoo Teng Chye, executive director of Singapore’s Centre for Liveable Studies, talks about what makes Singapore work as a globally attractive city:

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What, according to you, defines the global appeal of a city?
We can see global appeal as the ability of a city to attract talent, investment, tourists, trade, enterprise and ideas from around the world. This depends on a city’s liveability and sustainability.

Ensuring that children are well educated, water is clean and streets are safe — these produce a high quality of life, environment and workforce. In turn, these things attract others to invest, work, live, study, visit and heal in the city.

In today's world, is it valid for a policy planner to want a less competitive city?
When we make our cities clean or safe, it should not be only to attract outsiders, but also and importantly for the benefit of our own people. While some cities may decide they do not need many tourists, investors or talented migrants from elsewhere, they should still strive to become more liveable and sustainable for the well-being of local people. Otherwise, the city will fail to appeal to others, and also lose its best people and businesses. Over the long term, the fiscal or even demographic survival of such a city could even be threatened.

What can cities do to improve their global appeal?
Our research indicates two elements were critical to making Singapore more liveable and sustainable over the past half-century, contributing to our global appeal: Integrated Master Planning and Development, and Dynamic Urban Governance.

One ‘rule’ for Dynamic Urban Governance is ‘Involve the Community as Stakeholders’. Creating a liveable city needs the support of residents. Singapore’s National Parks Board, for instance, worked with partners in the public, private and people sectors to set up and sustain community gardens. This is now a thriving movement that contributes to promoting healthy lifestyles, increasing a sense of community ownership and developing community
leaders.

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