Kazan is recognised for its impressive turnaround from a formerly drab city with youth criminal gang and poor public health problems into a healthy city now known for sports and social and religious harmony. Under the highly commendable leadership of Mayor Ilsur Metshin, the city recognises that its people are the city’s most valuable asset and has invested strategically in sports, medicine, nutrition, and family life to improve Kazan’s overall quality of life.

The city has leveraged international sporting events such as the 2013 Summer Universiade to brand itself as the sporting capital of Russia, and has constructed a range of sporting infrastructure, which benefited its people after the events as part of the city’s push for wider adoption of sports and wellbeing. The Department of Food and Social Catering of Kazan – the largest food industry operator in the Republic of Tatarstan – caters meals for some 265,000 people including schools and hospitals, ensuring good nutrition to its people. The Kazan Family Centre is an institution that promotes family life by celebrating marriage life and multiple births, and organises social activities for families. Through these initiatives, the city has seen dramatic improvements in the city’s quality of life: over the last 10 years, the lifespan of its residents increased by 9 years, birth-rates increased by 2 times, abortion rates decreased by 40%, and crime rates decreased by 2 times.

Kazan is also commendable for taking the lead among Russian cities in embracing innovation. The city capitalises on its youth, as seen in its young leadership, and is committed to bringing new ideas that could catalyse positive change. Kazan is one of the host cities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, as well as the host for the 2019 WorldSkills Competition. These events provide the impetus for infrastructural upgrades and urban development that will benefit the everyday life of its residents. The development of the embankment of the Kaban Lake and the rehabilitation of Lebyazhye Lake are also positive examples to show how Kazan creatively improves the city through landscaping, while providing new recreational areas and opportunities for the people.

Kazan is highly remarkable as a city of diverse cultures, comprising 115 different nationalities, 36 national cultural organisations, 180 religious communities, and 9,000 foreign students. Most notably, the city’s population is made up of approximately 50% orthodox Christians and 50% Muslims living in peaceful co-existence. The friendship and respect for one another’s individual beliefs demonstrated amongst the Kazan people makes it a model city of respect for ethnic and religious diversity, and sends a powerful message to the rest of the world that civil, racial and religious harmony is achievable and sustainable.