MIPIM 2018 looks to the future
MIPIM 2018 will be more widely focused this year and will address the diverse range of issues that need to come together to ensure inclusive and sustainable growth. With the Government predicting that more than 70 percent of people will be living in urban areas by 2040, this discussion will inevitably focus on how we can drive inclusiveness and sustainability through improvements to our urban infrastructure and design.
There is no denying that the country’s cities must adopt a higher density model to cater for the growing population, and cities such as London and Manchester have made significant progress in this respect. That’s good, as we need to provide accommodation for our increasingly urbanised workforce, but other factors are now coming to the fore as driving forces behind our future success. Some good examples include the debate around Smart Cities (how technology can drive urban efficiencies, sustainability and improved health), liveability and lifestyle (crucial in attracting and retaining a globally mobile workforce), and the importance of “de-cluttering and calming” our cities by the creation of public open space where people can escape from the technological bombardment that characterises modern-day city living.
Notwithstanding the wider debate that is now going on, I remain concerned that cities are still being designed by numbers rather than in harmony with the needs of their communities. This is clearly a balancing act, but in a globally competitive environment, our cities will need to provide more than just regulated apartment blocks if they are going to prosper. It is therefore good news to see discussion groups at this year’s MIPIM looking at issues such as “Inclusive Growth”, the importance of “Sport Medicine and Liveability to Healthy Cities” and “Devolution and Diversity”.
There is undoubtedly still a big push for more effective devolution to our cities, and that must form a key part of the transition that is now urgently needed in order to future-proof our urban centres. However, we must not lose sight of the importance of regional co-operation – and I hope I’m not asking in vain when I raise the question “what happened to the Northern Powerhouse?”