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PRIZE RECIPIENTS REVEAL KEYS TO SUCCESS
By Iliyas Ong

At the Lee Kuan Yew Prize Lecture, the 2014 recipients of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize and Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize said visionary leadership and outreach to citizen and industry groups were critical to their success. Suzhou, China, was conferred the former award for its astute balancing of environmental stewardship, social equity and economic vibrancy, while the Orange County Water District (OCWD), the US, won the latter prize for its pioneering work in water reuse and groundwater management.

The Mayor of Suzhou, Mr Zhou Naixiang, explained that adhering to a future-minded Master Plan is essential if cities aspire towards liveability and economic success. Suzhou was planned 20 years ago, yet he nonetheless encouraged authorities to be “flexible” when implementing plans. “[City authorities] must follow the plan strictly, but in its execution, they must keep analysing the environment and open their ears for comments and proposals,” he said. Meanwhile, Ms Cathy Green, Board.

Member, OCWD, reminded the audience that garnering the support of residents and the industry is crucial to realising long-term goals. Indeed, the OCWD has been engaging city authorities as well as running extensive outreach programmes – such as organising tours of various facilities – for the public since 10 years before the project even began. The success of the OCWD, she remarked, hinges upon this buy-in from the community.

And despite the city’s win, Mr Zhou admitted Suzhou can still improve. “We can do more,” he said, “and I’d like to learn more from Singapore and other successful cities on how we can improve ourselves.

This article was adapted from Solutions Issue 2 June 2014, a World Cities Summit Show Daily. Read the full issue here.
 

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2014 Prize Laureate: City of Suzhou, Jiangsu Province