October 31 - November 4, 2016, Tokyo and Toyama City- The World Bank’s Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC) program conducted an intensive five-day Technical Deep Dive (TDD) on Compact but Livable Cities in collaboration with the Government of Japan, City of Toyama, Rockefeller Foundation, Singapore’s Centre for Livable Cities (CLC), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and New York University. This was the fourth TDD organized by TDLC offering first-hand knowledge exchange opportunities for developing and middle-income country clients.
Over 55 participants including city government officials, line ministries and others from 12 country delegations (Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Georgia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa and West Bank and Gaza) and World Bank Urban and Transport Task Team Leaders gathered together with Japanese and global experts to discuss the development of compact cities, explore policy decisions and share good practices for the efficient implementation of compact cities approaches.
Compact city policies are increasingly appearing in urban development planning both in industrialized and developing countries. Having faced massive urbanization as early as the mid-20th century, Japan hosts one of the world’s most advanced policy imperatives on making urban spaces accessible, livable, safe and resilient. Japan can share its lessons from mega-cities to mid-size cities in developing countries which are trying to tackle the challenges of urban sprawl.
Participants discussed the concepts of compact city development and learned directly from Japanese experience in this area. “Compact Cities are not only environmentally sustainable, but also economically viable,” said Mr. Tadashi Matsumoto, Project Manager, Urban Green Growth/ Knowledge Sharing, OECD. Indeed, compact city policy is one of the most supported urban policies because it is, in theory, financially, environmentally and socially more sustainable. Participants learned ways to finance infrastructure investment including land value capture (LVC) to attract private investment and strong enabling environment such as good tax incentive and enforcement.
Major takeaways of the Compact but Livable Cities TDD including having the right density and compactness should be the result and not the objective of policy iniatives. “Planners must select people-oriented objectives which include housing affordability and mobility. The optimum compactness will follow,” stressed Mr. Alain Bertaud, Senior Research Scholar, Marron Institute of New York University. Active discussions were also held around resilience and compactness of cities.
A portion of the TDD was held in the City of Toyama, at the occurrence of the World Bank and City of Toyama signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), bringing Toyama into the TDLC City Partnership Program (CPP). Additionally, TDD delegations also took part in Toyama City’s Resilient Cities 100 (RC 100) Summit jointly organized by the Rockefeller Foundation. During the RC Summit, Sumila Gulyani, Global Lead on Urban Strategy and Analytics of the World Bank gave a key note speech on a framework for understanding urban poverty through four dimensions including people (living conditions, education, job and health), economy (firms, productivity, business environment and competitiveness), governance (institutions, planning and finance) and assets (city form, infrastructure, environment, culture and location). The World Bank delegation also chaired two panel discussions on “resilience of compact, livable, and safe cities” and “urban sprawl and public transportation.”
Each delegation of the TDD developed practical action plans for the design and implementation of solution to their unique challenges. Follow-up support by TDLC such as project design, technical assistance on methodologies and approaches is expected to follow the each TDD.