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By Jennifer Eveland

One of the key objectives of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize is to facilitate the exchange of ideas and best practices among cities, said Dr Cheong Koon Hean, CEO of Singapore's Housing & Development Board and Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize Nominating Committee Member. “In view of the high quality of submissions that are usually received, the jury panel recognises cities in addition to the prize-winner that have made vast progress and from whom we can also learn lessons,” said Dr Cheong.

This year, the panel selected Yokohama, Japan and Medellín, Colombia for Special Mention; two cities it believes exemplify best practices in social innovation, public investments and partnership and collaboration with stakeholders.

Mr Aníbal Gaviria Correa, Mayor of Medellín, and Mr Kazumi Kobayashi, Director General of Policy Bureau for Yokohama, presented the measures that their cities had initiated to overcome the unique problems faced by each.

They were joined on stage by Mr Zhou Naixiang, Mayor of Suzhou, the winner of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize 2014, for a question and answer session facilitated by Professor Marilyn Jordan Taylor, Dean of the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania and Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize Nominating Committee Member.

Mr Kobayashi shared how Yokohama accomplished the dual objectives of civic engagement and public-private partnership. The city ensured the public and companies shared the same vision, which was then implemented. Yokohama asked, “What kind of city do we want?” and then set a long-term goal with clear targets that were then brought to fruition through practical projects and policies that supported the vision.

During the discussion, Mr Gaviria explained, “The greatest challenge that Medellín confronted in order to transform was to generate confidence and trust.”

Medellín is commended for its urban development accomplishments, one of which was overcoming a legacy of violence, reducing homicide rates by 86.2% from a staggering 380.6 per 100,000 inhabitants in 1991, to 52.3% per 100,000 inhabitants in 2012. The level of trust runs parallel to the level of violence, he said. “Trust in institutions and government was built when citizens saw results.” As an example, he cited his city's iconic cable car public transit system, the world's first cable car system used for daily commuting, as an example of how his government reached the public in remote areas, creating an avenue for the arrival of education and cultural institutions.

Sharing his own experience, Mr Zhou described how his city raised funds for major infrastructure projects. “This is a big challenge for mayors,” he said. “It can be achieved through economic growth. The cost of our metro line is huge, but we will get return for our investment in 10 to 15 years.

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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