ASTANA – International experts and city planning specialists and heads of large construction companies discussed urban development and shared international and local expertise at the July 7 First Urban Forum “DNA of the City: Communities. Business. Power” with the participation of Akim (Mayor) of Astana Asset Issekeshev.
Issekeshev opened the first panel discussion devoted to the tools of the city dialogue. The mayor discussed Astana’s plans for sustainable development, in particular introducing international standards for the quality of medical services, eliminating queues in kindergartens, increasing the number of affordable housing, planting one million green belt trees and improving public transportation by 2018.
Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) Governor Kairat Kelimbetov presented large-scale plans for changing the status and role of the city.
“The full political support for the AIFC project is a key instrument to improve the local financial system, human and technological capital and to strengthen Astana’s position in the Eurasian region as a financial and a logistics hub,” he said.
However, city development implies more work. Author of the Astana-2020 Development Strategy and head of Competitiveness Centre Anuar Buranbayev noted that the social, road and communal infrastructure do not keep pace with the growth rates of the city.
Meanwhile, Astana Art Fest Director Maira Izmailova recalled the role of cultural projects in connecting urban communities.
“Social and cultural projects are the intersection point of various strata of the population, regardless of their financial situation, sphere of activities and beliefs. Therefore, public spaces are needed, both geographically and semantic. Art Fest is a semantic space, for example. The festival creates in the city a unique environment for the development of society at the social, cultural, personal and business levels,” she believes.
Doctor of Architecture Philipp Meuser from Germany presented the experience of European mutual integration of urban spaces and communities at the forum, together with Director of Gehl Architect from Spain Riccardo Marini and Doctor of Architecture Jakub Szczesny from Poland.
Astana Urban Centre, Astana Art Fest and city administration presented the Work in Progress Astana joint project designed by Urban Centre specialist Aigerim Ospanova. The project will become a pilot for Astana and, if successfully implemented, can be replicated to non-central areas of the city.
“Astana is becoming a megacity, and like any megalopolis we have accumulated a lot of questions: what is the role of communities in the development of the city, what stable urban economy depends on, how to achieve efficient work of urban transport, etc. We initiated this forum to find answers to these and many other questions with the participation of all interested parties,” Urban Centre Deputy Head Askhat Saduov said.