The world is constantly changing. It is evolving, being tested, and going through periods of prosperity and crisis. The current circumstances confirm this. The health crisis that humanity is going through, has upset our daily lives: work, trade, transactions, entertainment, communication, transportation, business. The current crisis has revealed the weaknesses of our cities. The pandemic is an urban phenomenon, with more than 95 percent of cases in cities. The city is being tested, because of it density, which spreads risks more easily.
The fear of the pandemic spreading – at least until a vaccine and treatment are found - threatens the attractiveness of cities, which are called upon to prove that they are resilient, can overcome danger, offer safety and protection from future threats, of any nature.
The concept of resilient cities is not new. Green and sustainable development, equality, safety, public health and quality of life are at the heart of the priorities of resilient cities that aim to attract people and businesses that create long-term economic growth. The current crisis should eventually lead to better cities. Coordinated and planned public and private initiatives can provide citizens with a quality of life to which they are entitled.
Urban planning, improved infrastructure, investment in communication networks and smart technologies are priorities. The "big data", digitization and connectivity can help cities act preventively and flexibly and take the necessary design and management decisions quickly and efficiently. The role of cities is and will remain important. Creativity, innovation and productivity are actions that are born through the dense interaction of people living and working in cities.
This is evidenced by the degree of urbanization among large global urban centers in recent years, which have attracted productive segments of the population and are centers of economics, culture and education activity. This trend is not expected to stop.
According to forecasts from Oxford Economics, the productive population of London over the next ten years will increase by 9.2%, Copenhagen by 9.9% and Stockholm by 14.7%. Enhancing the resilience of cities and buildings is the answer to offseting the current danger and the safe restart of city life. It is the answer to preparing for future risks and creating a safe environment where citizens and businesses thrive, protecting the planet and the gradual reduction of causes behind these risks. Resilience is no longer just a desirable component of cities. It is a prerequisite for young thinking citizens, innovative entrepreneurs, ethical and conscientious investors who choose projects with a positive social footprint, which are distinguished by the principles of sustainability.
*Ms Mitsostergiou will moderate the September 23 annual conference held by ULI Greece & Cyprus titled "Building Resilient Cities: Profit Fits Purpose" to be held at the Grand Hyatt Athens.
Director of European Research Savills
Chair of ULI Greece, Cyprus