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BRICS countries discuss the experience of building affordable housing and shaping urban environment

11 September 2020
Страны БРИКС обсудили опыт строительства доступного жилья и формирования городской среды

On 9 and 10 September, the traditional BRICS Urbanisation Forum was held online. Experts discussed practices, key issues and matters related to urban development such as smart technologies, transport infrastructure development, an integrated approach to territorial development, raising investment and prospects for a transformation of the housing and utilities sector.

The speakers at the plenary session included Russian Deputy Minister of Construction, Housing and Utilities Maxim Yegorov, Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary of India Durga Shanker Mishra, Vice-Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of China Huang Yan, and head of the international relations office at the Ministry of Regional Development of Brazil Carla Carneiro.

Representatives of various official agencies and major businesses, as well as experts in urban studies, construction, transport, town planning, and digitalisation from the five countries were also invited to join the discussion.

«We, like many other countries, are only at the start of the road to smart cities, but even now, Russian cities have something to show. Russia has impressive human resources in science, a solid headstart in creating the most advanced technological solutions, and we are ready to continue mutually beneficial international cooperation with the BRICS countries to exchange experience and introduce advanced technologies and solutions,» Maxim Yegorov said.

The deputy minister shared Russia’s experience in urban development and also spoke about the national projects that involve road construction, the residents’ relocation from dilapidated and dangerous buildings, approaches to the formation of the urban environment, as well as the experience of involving the public in discussing the urban development agenda.

Durga Shanker Mishra said India sees urbanisation as an opportunity to promote rapid economic growth and increase people’s wealth. The country is currently implementing a number of major programmes related to urbanisation, such as to build affordable housing, introduce innovative construction technologies, develop public transport and establish smart cities with an emphasis on convenience, the Internet of Things and climate resilience.

China is showing a rapid growth in urban population: in 2011, the level of urbanisation exceeded 50 percent, and in 2019, for the first time, it grew over 60 percent, Huang Yan said. This means that every year, China actually gets one more city the size of Shenzhen, so urbanisation should rely on support for housing constriction, including social housing, education, medicine, and sports — all areas that improve the quality of life. Responding to the challenge to the public administration system, China, in its human development policies, prioritises human needs, improving the urban environment, landscaping and environmental protection to preserve people’s connection with nature.

According to Carla Carneiro, one of the main challenges for Brazil is providing housing for the poor and others whose homes do not qualify as appropriate quality structures. Brazil’s priorities in urban development are compliance with sanitary standards, access to water supply — as a high proportion of the population does not have access to clean water — public safety, transport development and environmental issues. Another challenge is ensuring proper urban mobility, because not all people live close to their work or the schools their children go to.

All countries face the same problems: ensuring people’s access to clean water, the need to relocate residents from dilapidated and dangerous housing on a large scale, and to take into account numerous factors and interests of different groups when formulating programmes for integrated territorial development. Therefore, the exchange of best practices is really interesting for everyone and will help find the most suitable solutions for each country, Maxim Yegorov concluded.

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