🔮 Looking ahead: five ideas for cities in 2022
Listen to 5 Asia-based experts and practitioners, as they give their take on what will matter for cities in 2022 and beyond - Issue #18
🐅 Gong Xi Fa Cai 恭喜发财 Happy Lunar New Year everyone!
As we enter the Year of the Water Tiger, I decided to reflect on some of the trends that will matter in 2022 and beyond for cities in region.
I have invited 5 experts, coming from different backgrounds and working in different sectors (start-up, VC, academia, corporate, multilateral organization..) to share their views about the future of cities in the region.
As charting the course of cities is all about mixing perspectives, I made a point to get experts outside of the planning sphere. Thanks again to all of them for taking the time to think about key ideas for the future!
Here are some of the questions I shared with them prior to collecting their ideas: What kind of themes/topics will probably impact your line of work in 2022? Where would you seek differentiation and distinctiveness in 2022? What are the trends that have been left unchecked in 2021 and which could have major implications in 2022? Which forces in the urban realm are not yet significant but are in a fast process of maturation?
What you’ll see below is of course not exhaustive of the many trends that will impact cities in the region but it’ll give you a taste of the questions that are agitating Asia’s urban space.
I am also curious to get your views on the trends/themes you think will be central in the global urban conversation in 2022. For this purpose, I have prepared a short survey (it’ll take only 6 mins!) to collect your ideas. It also gives me the opportunity to get your feedback on the newsletter and the podcast ;)
If I receive enough contributions, I’ll make sure to share the results (anonymously) with you so we can all have some food for thought to inspire our future work.
And as always, don’t forget to subscribe to Cities in Mind, spread the newsletter around you or drop this issue into one of your company’s Slack channels to keep the conversation going!
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🔮 5 ideas that will impact cities in 2022 (and beyond)
🌱 Accelerating Nature-Based Solutions in Cities by Marie Cheong
Nature-based solutions are solutions which conserve and increase the amount of carbon captured and sequestered in natural environments. There is incredible potential for Southeast Asia to be a leader in this space and make an immediate and significant impact on climate change. Yet, few scalable solutions exist.
Close to 1/3 of our emissions come from land use change and forestry. Southeast Asia is also home to 25% of investible forest carbon, close to 50% of the world's blue carbon habitats and 97% of global peatland carbon sinks. Urbanisation will continue to be a megatrend in the region. Working out how to combine this with scalable solutions that protect and create economic opportunities with the natural resources we have is critical to our region and the global fight on climate change. There are also a lot of innovations in that space (from greening roofs, buildings and cities) that could be unlocked.
Marie Cheong is Founding Partner at Wavemaker Impact (WMi), the first VC backed climate venture builder in Southeast Asia. WMi supports sustainability-focused businesses with proven entrepreneurs and its goal is to reduce 10% of the global carbon budget by 2035. WMi provides the opportunity areas, domain expertise, corporate partnerships and capital to launch and accelerate climate tech ventures in the region.
👩💼 A New Architecture of Hybrid Work by King Wang Poon
In 2022, we will find out how hybrid our work environment can be.
The battle lines are already being drawn. Employees of different generations and at different levels of the hierarchy often disagree about how much they need to work in the office and how much they can work remotely. It does not look like this disagreement will be resolved readily.
But resolving this is crucial to the future competitiveness of companies, cities, and countries. They can either choose to become more productive, improve well-being, and seize international opportunities, or they can continue disagreeing and let the world pass them by.
We can only resolve this if we look at jobs and work at the task level. By being clear which tasks can be done well and where, we begin to build a shared view of our hybrid future. At the same time, we can also better assess which technologies and processes best secure that future.
By looking at the resolution of tasks, we can build a new "architecture" of work for a future forged from the experiences of the pandemic.
King Wang Poon is the Director of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, where he heads the Smart Cities Lab and the Future Digital Economies and Digital Societies initiative. With his team, he researches the human dimensions of smart cities and digital economies, and their impacts on the future of work, education, and healthcare, as well as society.
For an overview of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities’ use of tasks to build this new architecture, refer to the following videos:
Concluding segment in Channel New Asia’s “Becoming Human 3 – Future of Work” (starting at 39:18 for about 4 minutes)
💡 Modern and Smart Cities will Focus on Innovation, and not (only) Technology by Riad Meddeb
The new smart, modern cities are not anymore focused on technology, but on how they create new services and improve existing ones with innovative, bold and creative solutions. During decades, smart city narratives have been techno-centric and the global spotlight has been directed to those cities that were deploying new and cutting-edge technologies. More and more, modern cities look at different methods to solve challenges, where technology can play a role or be an enabler. Bold initiatives, institutional arrangements, regulations and solutions are receiving growing attention and are being experimented and adapted worldwide.
This shift can help to correctly frame the expectations around technology, and motivate more mayors and city officials, especially in Low and Middle-Income Countries, to explore and experiment with new solutions to solve urban challenges that do not need to be intensive on technology. In many cities, this approach will also imply increased efforts to collaborate with the local innovation ecosystems and citizens, and to be able to adapt more experiences from peer cities.
Riad Meddeb is the Director ad-interim of the UNDP Global Centre for Technology, Innovation and Sustainable Development, based in Singapore. The UNDP Global Centre is a hub for knowledge and policy relating to sustainable development, connecting policymakers, practitioners, think-tanks, businesses for learning and sharing of best practices on the themes of technology, innovation, and partnerships.
UNDP’s Handbook on Smart Urban Innovations, with recommendations on how policy-makers can better collaborate with their local innovation ecosystems
The low-tech city, a publication (in French) by the Paris Region Institute, architecture firm AREP and ADEME (France’s environment and energy management agency)
⚡️ The Rise of New Intelligent Asset Service Providers in Cities by Julien Mialaret
We are seeing a growth of new app and web-based services for urban dwellers in large Asian cities, enabled by light, connected infrastructure.
The new services have accelerated under the current pandemic, with a priority focus in urban mobility: EV charging app services & infrastructure, battery swapping stations for light professional urban delivery, micro-mobility services. Other services are being addressed: healthcare with rapid diagnostic stations, food & beverage with robotics-powered pizza stations, craft coffee etc..
This could tremendously transform the way operators and users access to services in cities, in a context of accelerated digital transformation.
The services require significant capital inflow at launch to finance infrastructure, but once revenue models are proven, the companies finance with debt and focus on data platforms & services. Eurazeo has successfully financed several such services including Immotor (China), DST Car (China), Bird (US), Volta Charging (US)
Julien Mialaret is Operating Partner at Eurazeo, a global investor in technology, with offices in Paris, London, Berlin, Shanghai, Seoul and Singapore. Eurazeo’s Smart City Fund focuses on digital innovation and new technologies in property, transportation, logistics, energy, industry 4.0. The fund is global and active in EMEA, US, China and Southeast Asia.
🏗 The Collapse of Architecture as We Know It by Camiel Weijenberg
Live & work digitally, based anywhere in the world. This rapid yet necessary acceptance of new working cultures and shared team responsibilities has led to new opportunities.
Removing the constraint of where you are located and focusing on working digitally (remotely), effectively creates two spaces affecting housing prices/availability/movement/travel, etc.
This duality in space matters as it's a paradigm shift in thinking about 'working and living.' In addition, the impact of choosing environment-conscious means of transport is imminent and required. The demand for fundamental changes needed in designing and building cities requires new ways of approaching a new series of problems. Buildings will need to be designed much better, completely different, and faster at a lower price.
This will lead to important challenges but also new opportunities for the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry.
Camiel Weijenberg is the Co-Founder and CEO of Digital Blue Foam, a Singapore-based start-up that has created an eponymous software that hunts, gathers and computes contextual data such as climate, program and urban networks to determine the right building configuration, using advances in artificial intelligence, generative design, and web-based 3D visualization.
That’s it for today. I hope you’ve enjoyed these short contributions. As usual, a small 💚 at the bottom of this page goes a long way.
Happy Lunar New Year again and see you next week for a new issue.
Before leaving, don’t forget to fill the survey and share your views!