World cities talk at Metropolis



New York city

The New York City skyline.

Credit: Carolyn Barry

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SYDNEY: The global economic crisis and the damage it could do to development will dominate talks between officials from some of the world's biggest cities today.

Representatives from more than 80 cities with populations of more than one million will gather for the ninth World Metropolis Congress to be opened by Hollywood star and Sydney Theatre Company director Cate Blanchett.

Climate change, urban renewal and sustainable development will be on the agenda but the dominating theme will be the global financial meltdown, Metropolis Association president Jean-Paul Huchon said.

"The message is don't stop thinking about climate change, don't stop thinking about sustainable development, but give the cities the means and the money to fund their... investments," he said.

Huchon, president of the Ile-de-France region which includes Paris, said he wanted to create what he called a 'Bank of Cities' - a development fund to help rich cities fund their poorer cousins.

He said it was vital that developing cities gained finance to fund transport, housing and other projects, particularly as more and more cities within Asia attained populations in excess of one million people.

"The Metropolis association is recognising more and more the place of Asia in the equilibrium of the states," he said.

Metropolis, which has 104 member cities, estimates that by 2015 some 55 percent of cities with populations of one million will be in the Asia Pacific region.

Huchon said despite the differences between wealthy cities such as Paris and the growing urban conurbations of China and India, the problems - such as transportation, welfare, waste management, poverty and violence - were often the same.

Created in 1985, Metropolis is the world organisation for cities with populations greater than one million and works towards promoting sustainable development and improving quality of life.

Speakers at the three-day Sydney conference include Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN's Nobel-prize winning Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, and Professor Chetan Vaidya, head of India's National Institute of Urban Affairs.

Representatives from world cities including Barcelona, Berlin, Delhi, Guangzhou, Kingston, Kolkata, Manila, Melbourne, Moscow, Mumbai, Montreal, Paris, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Tehran and Toronto will attend the conference.

Stay tuned as G-Online editor Carolyn Barry blogs live from the event.