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The power of urbanisation

Image courtesy: Wikipedia.org

The power of urbanisation

Are we ready for and with the cities of tomorrow?

How should we plan sustainable urban cities of the future? Confluence 2017 takes it up, head-on.

When we talk of planning for urban cities of tomorrow, we not only imply creation of sustainable cities, but also transformation of the existing ones. The process is ideally two-pronged: building model cities and assisting the older ones to be at par with the new.

While planning for the cities of the future, it is vital to remember why they would be built in the first place. The cities of tomorrow would be built for its inhabitants, our future generation. Hence, it becomes imperative to not base these plans on past concepts or current ideas. Instead, the need of the hour is to come up with ideas that are forward-looking, innovative and sustainable.

What troubles India’s cities?

The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), in collaboration with the India office of McKinsey & Company, had conducted a 21-month research to understand India’s urbanisation, problems faced by fast-growing cities and what policy makers can do to ease the strains of urban life and maximise opportunities offered by cities.

Delhi City Image courtesy: Wikipedia.org

The research projections (by the year 2030):

  • 590 million people will live in cities by 2030
  • 70 percent of net new employment will be generated in cities
  • 68 cities will have population of 1 million plus—up from 42 today
  • $1.2 trillion capital investment is necessary to meet projected demand in India’s cities
  • 7,400 km of metros and subway will need to be constructed—20 times the capacity added in the past decade
  • 2.5 billion square meters of roads will have to be paved—20 times the capacity added in the past decade
  • 700–900 million sq mt of commercial and residential space needs to be built—or a new Chicago every year

Although the Indian economy has been resilient so far, it is imperative to sustain this momentum. What the country needs to do is to realise the true potential of cities and ‘release their dynamism’. According to the report, for further economic growth, India has to get rid of barriers in product, land, and labour markets.

What makes cities complex systems?

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A city is composed of two basic components: the material and the human. The juxtaposition of these two elements make cities complex systems.

When we consider people and communities interacting with one another and with objects such as buildings, streets and parks, or the environment, concepts become even more complex. Ergonomics, or the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment, depend on all these factors. Each of these factors play a role in the building of a complex, yet sustainable city.

Global commitment to sustainable urbanisation

Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, was held last year to reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable urbanisation.

It was the first UN global summit after the adoption of the ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals’. Member States, parliamentarians, civil society organisations, government representatives, researchers, foundations, women and youth groups, trade unions, and the private sector participated in the meet. Discussions were held on how cities, towns and villages can be planned better towards seamless growth and green practices.

According to the UN, the world’s urban population is expected to exceed six billion by 2045. The complex problems arising from this spurt in urbanisation can be tackled only through growth of more sustainable cities.

The third edition of the Confluence, held this March, discussed the way forward towards building cities for the future. Eminent speakers, from across the globe, came together to speak on the issue during two panel discussions.

‘Confluence 2017’ Explores

Moderated by Dr. Shirish Sankhe, Sr Partner, Mckinsey & Co, the objective of the first session was to define a balanced approach towards solving the challenges in sustainable city creation, from a practitioner’s perspective.


“We need to find out an optimal density for our cities. When it comes to solar power or sewage treatment, one of the challenges Indian cities face is of space.” Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General,

TERI Panel on “Cities Learnings & Experiences”

The second panel explored views by global leaders on urbanisation in the light of an increasingly dynamic world order.


How urbanisation is not just about building a city, but has a larger socioeconomic context with the constantly changing needs of the people.

Panel on ‘Urbanisation Next’ moderated by Mr. Jonathan Woetzel, Sr Partner, McKinsey & Co

Speaking about the complex structure of Indian cities, Mr. Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group, said, “We have to realise that our goal is not to create urban agglomerations that will match up to the mega cities of the future. We have to decentralise. So what happens to productivity then? Are we going to give that up? Digital technologies and communication make sure you don’t sacrifice productivity anymore. Even if you are sitting in a village, you can manufacture automotive parts by using 3D printing technology


“I think Mahindra is putting its money where its mouth is by creating these kinds of smaller agglomerations. Mahindra World City Jaipur and Chennai are experiments in that direction,”

Mr. Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group

IT SEZ, Mahindra World City, Jaipur

Image courtesy: get.pxhere.com

What lies ahead?

The future of our world has always intrigued us since time immemorial. Be it our interest in time travel, first popularised by H. G. Wells in his 1895 story The Time Machine, or the more recent movie Her, the human race has always longed to understand what lies ahead.

There are a few trends that are forward-looking and could well lead to the growth of sustainable cities in the future. Traffic congestion and air pollution are a city’s worst nightmares. To tackle these problems, many urban spaces are banning private cars and promoting public transport systems. While Ghent has already banned entry of cars near the city centre, Barcelona is working on a similar plan.

Take for example the proposed model city in China’s Chengdu. The 1.3 sq km city is to house 80,000 residents, with everything only a 15-minute walk away. The model city negates the utility of cars completely. Now imagine this model being replicated all around the globe!

With the increase in urban population, the issue of space crunch would be the most pressing. Is vertical cities the next best option? Tall, skinny towers, rooftop parks and vertical gardens might be the answer to sustainable cities of the future.

According to the Council on Tall Building and Urban Habitats (CTBUH), we are on the verge of a “megatall” era, as buildings taller than 1,969 feet are set to double by 2020. While only three megatall structures exist at present (Dubai, Mecca and Shanghai), three more are coming up in Wuhan, Kuala Lumpur and Jeddah.

Buildings, however, would also have to be emissions-neutral for them to be sustainable. Australia is leading the way by working on it climate change targets. According to the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), while new buildings must be emissions-neutral by 2030, existing ones should achieve this by 2050.

If changes of this magnitude can be brought about through dialogue and planning, we could be looking at the rise of more sustainable cities in the future than we could ever imagine before.

Confluence 2017, Building Cities To Last

Confluence 2017, Building Cities To Last

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” – Jane Jacobs

Description – How can we create cities that are liveable, inclusive and sustainable? Confluence 2017 takes it up, head-on.

It was around 2008 that the human population scales tipped in favour of the world’s cities. Today, more than half the planet’s population resides in its urban areas, and most of us will agree that the cities that we live in influence our lives, choices and aspirations. Cities are hubs for employment, education, entertainment and innovation. They provide access to intellectual, social and cultural capital, and enable socio-economic growth across strata. Cities create markets for business, attract global investment and talent, and allow for the efficient distribution of services.

However, cities are also responsible for drawing on natural resources and GHG emissions. Overcrowding, unchecked sprawl, unemployment, lack of access to quality housing, inadequate sanitation and other infrastructural challenges often plague fast-growing towns and metropolises. Nonetheless, accelerating urbanisation – be it via the growth/densification of existing agglomerations, or through the greenfield development of new urban ecosystems – is already underway across the world. A wave of urbanisation is thus imminent, and city creation appears to be both an opportunity and a challenge. We have before us the opportunity to create environmentally responsible, economically viable and socially inclusive cities. At the same time, the speed and scale of urbanisation brings its own set of challenges; these include demands for housing, scalable urban infrastructure, public transit and employment.

Building inclusive, resilient and sustainable cities entails intensive planning and collaboration. Once a city is built, its physical form and land use patterns can be locked in for years, with limited scope for systemic shifts. What is it, therefore, that we need to look at, today, to ensure that we build sustainable urban ecosystems for future generations? Should planning take precedence over flexibility? How about finance for city infrastructure development? What is the role of the private sector and the potential for public-private partnerships? To begin with, how can stakeholders representing diverse areas of expertise come together to generate transformative and meaningful ideas that can be converted into action towards Building Cities To Last?

The genesis of Confluence, by Mahindra World City

As pioneers of integrated cities promoted in Private-Public-Partnership (PPP) with state governments in India, we believe that for urban growth to be truly sustainable, it must meet the needs of all stakeholders. In other words, urban planning must encompass social, economic and environmental growth in equal measure. Mahindra World City embodies this approach to urbanisation, via the development of integrated cities built on the ethos of Livelihood, Living and Life.

City building is a creative and collective process. In India, for example, while the Government has set in motion visionary, pro-growth initiatives such as the Smart Cities Mission and Housing For All, more hands on deck can ensure participatory urban development that is holistic and all-encompassing. Be it government, business, planners, city administrators, architects or citizens, the modern planned city is the manifestation of many ideas and approaches that converge to create common urban value.

As the global focus on urbanisation shifts towards a more equitable, inclusive and resource-efficient future intensifies, it is time to redefine our approach to building cities that last. It was thus that Confluence was conceived in 2013, as a knowledge platform and meeting point for leaders, experts and innovators from varied spheres of influence; the objective being to catalyse participation, collaboration and an exchange of ideas on critical issues related to urban development.

This year, months of planning, research and co-ordination culminated in the third edition of Confluence, held on 2nd March, 2017, in Delhi. As our esteemed speakers and panellists arrived at the conference venue, the excitement in the air was palpable. Global experts representing academia, industry, government, technology, arts & culture, city creation and sustainability were to come together on common ground. It was a day of intense, scintillating discussions on the challenges facing our city futures, and ways and means to work around them. From Singapore, Delhi, Barcelona, New York, Tel Aviv, Gujarat and Mumbai – our speakers shared their experiences and beliefs about current and future issues impacting global cities, together with potential solutions for the same.



Knowledge Partners since the last 2 chapters, McKinsey India have enriched the platform with their expertise across geographies on sustainable urban development. ET Now partnered the conference, to proliferate the cause of sustainable urbanisation, both in India and globally.

Expertspeak at Confluence 2017

Speakers at the conference engaged and inspired. They drew upon their experiences as artists, city builders, experts, leaders and planners to share inventive and effective ways in which we might address present day urban challenges. Featuring panel discussions and keynote sessions, Confluence 2017 put forth thought provoking, actionable ideas for a sustainable urban future.
Here are a few highlights.


“In India, we are in a unique situation today, where urbanisation has outpaced urban planning, and we are having to catch up.” – Mr. Arun K Nanda, Chairman, Mahindra Lifespace Developers Ltd. (MLDL) And Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd (MHRIL).


“Urbanisation is one of the areas where India can leapfrog and create a good example for other countries.” – Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog.


“The test is one is of space and the price of technology. We need to upscale such that prices are reduced. Sustainability is doable, but it is a step at a time.” – Dr. Ajay Mathur, Director General, The Energy and Resources Institute


In a keynote session titled ‘Inspiring Ideas’, Mr. Eytan Schwartz, CEO, Tel Aviv Global, shared how applications of technology and digital science can steer city growth.


“The inherent identity of India is its inclusiveness.” – Shombit Sengupta, Artist, Founder & Chairman,Shining Consulting

“Building cities is about competing with existing and future cities to stay relevant to the economy.” – Mr. Yee Ean Pang, Director General, Investment Operations Department, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Conclusion

One might ask, “What does city creation have to do with me?”. The answer, is ‘everything’. Our cities have a strong role to play in defining our identities; at a personal level, they contribute to our education, professional progress and social circles. In a similar manner, each citizen influences the urban development process – economically, culturally and otherwise.

Urbanization and economic growth go hand in hand. The emerging future of cities largely depends on the way we plan and manage this transformative process to achieve positive change. The good news is that Sustainable Urbanisation can respond to the challenges of our times, thereby addressing issues such as inequality, climate change and unmanageable forms of expansion. Even more inspiring is the fact that the world over, new forms of collaboration and learning that can drive positive change are emerging. Confluence seeks to learn from, and contribute to, these collective efforts.

We’d love to hear from you on your ideas for how we can improve the next edition of Confluence! What do you think should be discussed at the next edition? Is there anyone you’d like to recommend as a speaker, or any interesting examples of innovation (in urban development) that you’d like to share? Do reach out to us at confluence@mahindraworldcity.com

We believe collective voices and ongoing conversations are crucial to driving long-lasting, systemic change.Watch this space, as we continue to share our thoughts and experiences from Confluence 2017 and beyond – towards Building Cities To Last.

Our Policy

Mahindra World City conducts its business according to the values manifested in its ideology. We administer our operations according to highest standards with respect to our employees, our clients and our stakeholders. The following key policy statements of Mahindra World City, highlight our adherence, accountability and procedures.

Mahindra World City

When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project,
all your thoughts break their bonds:
Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new,
great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself
to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be
– Patanjali, Indian sage and philosopher (150 BCE)

As of 2017, India is the world’s second most populous country. By 2030, it is estimated that the country’s population will be the largest in the world. This disquieting increase brings with it the demand for a new paradigm of urban discourse and planning.

Mahindra World City has been planned with its vision rooted in the future and provides a holistic environment that integrates business and living. It epitomizes the public–private synergies that address the need for focused investments in the Indian infrastructure sector and provides state-of-the-art facilities for global and Indian companies to thrive.The integrated development with high-quality infrastructure provides a world-class environment for corporates across the globe.

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Aerial View, DTA zone, MWC Jaipur
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Canopy- Commercial Centre, MWC Chennai

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Force Motors Chennai Plant-2

Planned as a single point destination for domestic and global companies, Mahindra World Cities include Special Economic Zones , Industrial Parks, Retail & Social Infrastructure and Domestic Tariff Areas. The Lifestyle Zone, located alongside the Business Zone, offers residences, schools, medical centres, retail malls, business hotels, recreation and leisure facilities, and wide open green spaces for a clean, healthy environment. Bringing life to the city is an environment replete with culture, sports, music, festivals and a lot more.

Today Mahindra World City (Chennai & Jaipur) is the preferred destination of choice of over 135 companies, providing direct employment to more than 46000 people and generating cumulative exports of more than Rs 11,400 Cr from 2011-12 till date.

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