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Russian Urban Forum Focusing on Development of Mono-Towns’ Urbanistic Environment Took Place in Pervouralsk

On September, 28th the Forum was organized in Pervouralsk Innovation Culture Center mainly discussing the modernization of city economy and urban environment of industrial cities.

For the first time the topic of making city space comfortable was discussed in the framework of a regional forum. World famous urban experts, the representatives of the State authorities and the business community have visited the mono-town of Pervouralsk in Sverdlovsk Region. As Mr. Alexander Visokinsky, a Deputy Chairman of Sverdlovsk Government has put it – “It is important indeed that the Heads of the municipalities are present here at this event because they will be largely responsible for improving the urban environment and strategic development of their towns”. Mr. Alexander Visokinsky also pointed out in his speech , - “The plant is more than just a plant for every man in the Urals – it is like an ancestral birthplace. However, it is important to understand the key trend – a number of workers engaged in production will decline along with the technological development, thus it is critical to develop a service industry and the sectors of town life not directly connected to the single town-forming enterprise. In the essence Ekaterinburg also consists of several mono-towns: Uralmash, Khimmash, Elmash and previously these areas were not event bordering. Due to the successful development strategy, the city has been improving – it is still an industrial one but also progressing towards being a center of business, entertainment, and culture activities with its own symbolic objects and the places of interest”.

Senior Social Development specialist of the World Bank Mr. Stavros Stavrou presented the findings of the research on Russian mono-towns. According to residents of these mono-towns the main social problems of the areas hide in the narrow professional specialties of their residents making them vulnerable to economic challenges. Mostly women and young people are affected by job market limitations, weak social security and a lack of support for entrepreneurship. Also, men employed at the town-forming plants often find themselves being in unstable situation and experiencing fear of job loss.

Currently improving the situation in mono-towns is a dedicated project on a Federal level aiming to remove a monoprofile and grow an employment rate. A status of the Advanced Social and Economic Development Territory is being awarded to the certain areas to create new opportunities for business.  To reiterate, the status of the ADT has been officially awarded to the town district of Krasnoturinsk on September 19. Based on successful experience of Krasnoturinsk Sverdlovsk Governor Evgeniy Kuivashev has ordered the Heads of all mono-towns to identify and promote the perspective investment projects which could be developed with federal financial support helping to improve the economic situation and the quality of life. In particular, according to the first Deputy Prime Minister – the Minister of Investments and development Alexey Orlov, Pervouralsk became the second town in Sverdlovsk Region applying for the ADT status. Monoprofile territories could apply to receive support from the Mono-towns Development Fund which is co-financing the development of Industrial Parks and training the municipal teams; it may also create a Project Office to develop a territory or support a precise project on making the urban environment healthier.

As Mr. Ilya Krivogov, Director General of the Mono-Towns Development Fund, mentioned, it was not possible to solve the problems of these areas just by creating new workplaces. As he put it, - “When it comes to urban environment a special standard will be elaborated in 2017 to evaluate the efficiency of the local authorities’ efforts on this path. There is a good example of the “Five Steps” programme developed by the experts of Moscow Engineering Bureau “Strelka”. According to this concept top five priority public areas will be identified to deal with such as the most popular and vibrant urban places of attraction, youth socializing spots, culture heritage objects and places of interest, social infrastructure objects as well abandoned or ineffectively used facilities – particularly industrial plants being idle. Afterwards, all available resources will be utilized and the attention focused on turning these five areas into the drivers of urban development transmitting the modernization impulse to the rest of the city. These steps should be also accompanied with support of small and medium business”. Ilya Krivogov also mentioned that his Fund had an important mission of training the management teams of the town and aiding the municipal administrations in general.

Forum participants have discussed international experience of urban development and boosting economic efficiency of the cities around the World. Dutch urbanist Mr. Evert Verhagen, an expert in transformation of public spaces, industrial zones and buildings, pointed out the problems of Russian mono-towns were not that unique. As he puts it, – “Parents are taking care of their children all over the World, they try to give their kids the best including great education and sending them to large cities to acquire it. Thus, migration is not a problem but the natural course of things. At the same time, every city has a right to live its own life.” In the framework of the Forum, round tables and plenary sessions dedicated to re-industrialization, development of parks, creating a bicycle tracks network, promoting street art, reassignment of industrial territories have also taken place.

 “The Forum united representatives of the professional community with the heads of cities and industrial enterprises. It was very important to have this dialog between the experts in architecture and urban design, those with knowledge of urban esthetics and an experience in particular urban development projects on one side and people actually living in the mono-towns reality and being interested in modernization of it on the other.” – as described by Mr. Dmitry Popov, Director General of the Development Corporation of the Ural. He also mentioned, “Working in the Development Corporation of Middle Ural we often face the fact that when investors are choosing a location to set up a manufacturing they are paying a close attention to the culture life of the cities, their liveability. When it comes to attracting investments both the quality of industrial facilities and the level of social infrastructure development are equally important.”

The Forum was organized with support of the Government of Sverdlovsk Region, Municipality of Pervouralsk, OJSC “Development Corporation of Middle Ural”, OJSC “Pervouralsky Novotrubny Works” (JSC Chelyabinsk Pipe - Rolling Plant). 

30 September 2016, 10:00
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