The organizers call Moscow Urban Forum “a central international venue for discussion and the exchange of ideas between growing and established global cities.” The event brought together more than 1000 guests from 20 countries around the globe. This year’s major theme was the quality of life in megacities, the challenge, which all megalopolises around the world are concerned with.
VOR: What is your first impression from the event?
Richard M. Daley: I’m very impressed with the quality of the event. It is refreshing to come here and to listen to people, sharing their views on different challenges faced by Moscow as well as other large global cities.
VOR: How would you outline the key focus of the Forum?
Richard M. Daley: Well globalization is here whether you like it or not. It forces cities to become a part of the world, and if you’re not a part of the world you’ll be lost. And how do you become part of the world? You have to improve the education system. So the cities like Moscow have to strive to position themselves as having the best education system in the world.
At the same time, cultural activity is important, because it redefines the city and your connection to the world.
And most importantly it is the development of infrastructure, whether it’s a port, an airport, roads or public transportation. It is crucial to have a clear vision on how you move your goods around such a large country like Russia.
Also openness to the rest of the world is pivotal, when you have foreign exchange students and business people travelling around the country; those are positive signs, which show the country is a part of the world.
I believe those are the key issues for the Forum this year.
VOR: How important is an event like the Moscow Urban Forum for the development of the city?
Richard M. Daley: Moscow is a global city and the event is very important for it, because all the issues the participants are talking about are issues of the world. Panelists are focusing on problems like public transportation, density, urban sprawl, the environment, parks, education etc. I mean if you go to Europe, the United States or any other part of the world, guess what, the authorities there are concerned about the same issues.
VOR: Richard, how would you comment on ambitious plans of the Russian policymakers to make Moscow a world level financial center?
Richard M. Daley: There is nothing wrong with that, but there are a number of parameters that have to be in place for those ideas to materialize; for instance, the rule of law has to be there. Also investors that are coming to the city should have a feeling that they are well protected. Those requirements, however, are no different for Moscow compared with any other city in the world.
VOR: And from your perspective as a former mayor of Chicago, what are the key challenges for Moscow now and how should the authorities go about solving them?
Richard M. Daley: At the opening of the forum the mayor of Moscow talked about transformation that is critical. The authorities have to bring private people into government, because businessmen give a different perspective. It is also important to bring younger people in, simply because they look at issues differently.