As if working on the 1st Report for the Hanoi master plan was not enough, between our reports to the Vietnam government steering committee and the Prime Minister, we held a 2-day international symposium April 21-22.
The main goal of the symposium was to gain a better understanding of Hanoi within a global context, by inviting prominent international experts and scholars who have studied or worked in Hanoi to provide their opinions on how Hanoi could develop through to 2030. These in turn would be reflected in the master plan the project I am working on is developing.
The key objectives and expectations were:
- Invite international experts and knowledge leaders who have experience working in Hanoi/Vietnam to present their expertise and global perspective for the future development of Hanoi;
- Identify potentials, drivers and assets that may shape Hanois future;
- Discuss long-term goals and objectives for the sustainable development of Hanoi.
The main themes of the symposium were:
- Heritage Preservation
- Social Development
- Hanoi and Environmentally Sustainable Future
- Peri-urban Agriculture & Food Security
- Issues of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Urban Management
- Urban Challenges of Sustaining Economic Growth
The speakers were:
- Jeremy CAREW-REID, Director, International Centre for Environmental Management
- Michael DIGREGORIO, Ford Foundation (Vietnam) – program officer – Education and Scholarship; Media, Arts and Culture
- Sylvie FANCHETTE, Geographer, Research Institute for Development (IRD)
- Ana FIRMINO, Center of Studies for Geography and Regional Planning, Assistant Professor at New University of Lisbon
- Shizuo IWATA, Director, ALMEC Corporation
- Richard LEECH, Executive Director, CB Richard Ellis, Hanoi
- Laurent PANDOLFI, Co-director, IMV
- Christian PEDELAHORE, Docteur en Architecture. Architecte DPLG – Urbaniste SMUH
- Paul SCHUTTENBELT, Planner/Governance expert, Urban Solutions
- Leo VAN DEN BERG, Alterra Green World Research, The Netherlands
- Michael WAIBEL, Senior Lecturer Department of Economic Geography, Hamburg University
- Lawrie WILSON, Director of International Projects, Hansen Partnership
The symposium was closed to the public and limited to invited participants only, but we had a strong turnout and at one point the hall which sat about 200 was filled up. I played the part of moderator, with a list of questions prepared for our speakers in case the audience was not being responsive. Thankfully I did not need to ask too many questions.
The general opinion from the experts were that Hanoi is a unique city, however it is in danger of losing these qualities if they are not properly protected through good planning, management and policies, enforcement of regulation and development of its assets. Of course these opinions were expected since I personally interviewed and invited the speakers who could support our goals and objectives of establishing a sustainable Hanoi. But all these experts had years of experience working in Hanoi, and it was apparent from their presentations and discussions that they truly loved Hanoi as much as the Vietnamese and this was the reason they continue to work in Hanoi and Vietnam. It’s not easy for an outsider to adopt a city, but in the case of these experts it was clear that they thought it worth their work and life to make the choice to stay.
I was left questioning, how many cities in Asia elicits such a dedication from the international community? Hanoi does seems to be in the spotlight these days, being the venue to many international conferences.