Address to the Full Council Meeting of MBPP
May 30, 2016
By Dr Lim Mah Hui

Towards A Sustainable, Liveable Community and City

Selamat pagi dan selamat sejahtera. Dato’ Bandar Patahiyah, Ir. Ang Aing Thye, Ahli2 Majlis, Pengarah2 dan Ketua2 Jabatan, Para Wartawan, tuan2 dan puan2. Saya akan bincang tentang komuniti lestari. Saya minta izin memberi ucapan dalam Bahasa Inggeris.

Today I wish to share with you a short video on Curitiba, a medium sized city of 2 million people in eastern Brazil that transformed itself into one of the most liveable in the world. In 2010 it was given the Global Sustainable City Award .

It was the effort of a mayor, Jamie Lerner, an architect by profession, who had a vision and the political will to implement that vision that was and still is against conventional belief that building more highways and bringing in more cars into the city was the path to “development”. He was ahead of his time. But he had the political will to implement it against great odds and today, he and Curitiba are recognized internationally as vanguards of sustainable development.

The video highlights a few main points.

He implemented radical plans for urban landuse that featured pedestrianization of streets, strict controls on urban sprawl and an affordable and efficient public transport system. He prioritized public transport over private cars and transformed car lanes into dedicated bus lanes. When he took office buses were carrying 20,000 passengers per day; today they carry more than 2 million per day and the bus system is one of the few in the world that is financially self-sustaining. There is only one price, no matter how far you travel, and you pay at the bus stop. It has been a model for other cities trying to achieve more sustainable movement of people and is used by 85% of people living in the city.

Second, he created parks and green spaces and today the city has 4 times more green space (52 square metres) per person than the recommended one despite its population tripling in the last 20 years. Much of the green space was achieved by using federal funds for flood control to build small dams across rivers, creating lakes and parks for the city population. There are 28 parks and wooded areas in Curitiba, creating a city landscape unlike any other in a developing city

He thought outside the box and believed in simplicity and living within his means. He used sheep to graze in the parks instead of using lawn mowers.

He put people before all else. He maintained solidarity with the people, not as rhetoric, and cutting ribbons here and there. As he said, one has to feel inside the daily problems of the people. Authority must not regard the public and civil society as enemies and meet them only in Appeals Board. Much better to engage with people, listen to their concerns and encourage genuine participation before rather than after the fact.

That is why I have asked for regular public forums to be organized between the public and the council. It was adopted as a KPI at our retreats but has not been implemented. I hope this can be taken up this year.

Please click here to view “Curitiba: Citi of Dreams (2006)”