Global Responses to the Fifteen Minute City

Thursday 17 September 2020 - 16:00 to 18:00

As part of the UDG and AoU joint Symposium on The Fifteen Minute City leading authorities and city leaders from around the world talk about the measures they are taking to transform their streets, neighbourhoods, businesses and lives.


Dr Wei Yang  Wei Yang and Partners, Chairman + RTPI, Vice President


Carlos Moreno  Associate Professor at the Sorbonne, Paris

Prof Moreno is renowned as a scientific advisor to national and international figures of the highest level, notably for our Symposium, Anne Hidalgo Mayor of Paris, who launched her Fiteen Minute City plan as part of her re-election camapign in February this year. Arguably this has been the most important urban policy response to the Covid-19 Pandemic and owes much to Moreno's role as her special Envoy.

“We need to reinvent the idea of urban proximity,” Moreno says. “We know it is better for people to work near to where they live, and if they can go shopping nearby and have the leisure and services they need around them too, it allows them to have a more tranquil existence.

“Work is more problematic because people’s jobs are often some way from their homes, but we must rethink this too. Today, our approach to work is the same as it has been for the last 50 years. Is it always necessary to show up somewhere, to be physically present in front of the boss? It is possible to do things differently.”


EMBEDDING URBAN DESIGN PRINCIPLES INTO PLAN-MAKING PROCESS: how the 15 minute concept has been applied to China 

Dr Wei Yang  Wei Yang and Partners, Chairman + RTPI, Vice President

A transformative national spatial planning reform has been carried out in China since March 2018. The restructured Ministry of Natural Resources oversees both natural and built environment. A ‘One Plan’ Integrated National Spatial Planning System is being developed for the whole country. At city level, principles of pedestrian friendly walkable neighbourhoods and human-scale public open spaces have been adopted.

Planning guidance on 15-minute walkable neighbourhood was published by Shanghai Municipal Government in August 2016. In addition to urban design principles, the guidance provides benchmarks for community facilities and open spaces for the elderly, children, and city workers etc. Particular emphasis has been given to create age-friendly neighbourhoods. Within 15-minute walking distance the provision of healthcare, education, library, Leisure, and canteen facilities for the elderly are specified. 

Following the success of the initiative in Shanghai, 15-minute concept has been widely applied in cities across China as part of the spatial planning reform. Qingdao, a seaside city with 650 million population will be introduced as a case study to discuss how big data has been used to assist community engagement and decision-making process.  


Arun Jain  Chief Urban Designer & Principal Planner for the City of Bellevue, Washington

Words like sustainability, green, and resilience are highly generalized concepts that are wide open to interpretation. In a similar vein, the idea of the 15-minute city is a fungible notion that usually alludes to easy (meaning walkable) access within a short distance from home or work. Clearly what is possible in a 15-minute walk radius in a downtown is vastly different than that in a suburb. Our ability to leverage positive change in each setting depends on community size, its governance model, the prevailing level of planning sophistication, and the ability to leverage change itself (i.e. public consensus, political will, and financing).

In a Covid world, the "new normal” is far from settled. Many of our traditional assumptions and best practices are likely to be questioned. This session asks us to consider the circumstances in which this aspect of livability can continue to be enhanced, despite the profound uncertainties.


Daisy Narayanan  Sustrans Edinburgh, Director of Urbanism

Looking primarily through a Scottish lens, Daisy will share ideas and plans for national, city and neighbourhood scale transformation, adopting the Fifteen Minute City concept to achieve a net zero future.


This event is part of the UDG and AoU joint symposium on The Fifteen Minute City


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