Mexico City conferred Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize 2024

Mexico City conferred Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize 2024

13 MAY 2024 – Mexico City, the capital of Mexico, has been awarded the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize 2024 for its ability to address many complex urban challenges and achieve transformational progress within a relatively short time of five years.

“Despite advancements in human science and technology, many basic human needs remain unmet in cities and social inequities continue to exist. Mexico City has demonstrated how its citizen-centric city programmes, supported by strong leadership and new digital initiatives to simplify and improve access to public services, can benefit its residents, regardless of their socio-economic status”, commended Nominating Committee Chair, Dr Cheong Koon Hean.

Through visionary leadership, the city introduced new programmes while rejuvenating existing ones, and brought about significant advancement in urban renewal and regeneration, environmental sustainability, transport and digital transformation to the benefit of its residents across all strata of society.

Fulfilling a transformative vision

Mexico City’s Mayor, Mr. Martí Batres Guadarrama said, “The awarding of this prize drives us further to continue the transformation that we started nearly six years ago to build a more just, inclusive and sustainable city.” Former Mayor of Mexico City, Dr Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo also added: “Winning this award places us among wonderful world cities like Vienna, New York City, Seoul, Medellin, Suzhou and Bilbao, and shows that we are on the right track to fulfil the vision we set forward six years ago to create a city of rights and innovation. I am convinced that this Prize will further help consolidate the transformation of our city into a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive home for the nearly 10 million people who live here.”

Some of the city’s key strategies are:

a) Building stronger and more resilient communities. Mexico City implemented a range of inclusive social policies and programmes, such as free education for children and youth, and encouraging dignified ageing for the elderly. A standout initiative is PILARES (Puntos de Innovación, Libertad, Arte, Educación y Saberes’ or Points of Innovation, Freedom, Art, Education and Knowledge), which offers programmes for community bonding, youth rehabilitation, and continuous learning through 294 community centres throughout the city. These programmes also provide vital social safety nets and upskilling opportunities for marginalised communities, demonstrating the city’s commitment to uplifting the less privileged.

b) Creating more seamless commute. Despite challenges posed by its complex urban landscape and fragmented transportation system, Mexico City has successfully integrated eight transit payment systems via a single transport card to enhance mobility for residents and transient populations. In addition to enhancing several transport infrastructure, it has also built the world’s longest cable car line to reduce time and cost of commuting, especially for low-income neighbourhoods.

c) Leveraging technology to improve lives. Digital transformation efforts were introduced to promote digital inclusion and improve the provision of public service. Initiatives include the development of a centralised secure digital identity system, the Llave platform which enables residents to access the majority of the city’s services, from registering vehicles to retrieving birth certificates. In addition, the deployment of an extensive network of 31,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots has further ensured equal opportunities to access the Internet.

d) Driving community-centric environmental efforts. Re-vegetation efforts have been carried out to transform desolate land into parks and urban forests. Additionally, through community-based sustainable agricultural programmes, and upskilling programmes, residents are also trained in using the city’s rain harvesting system as an alternative water source installed for free in water-scarce areas. Such systems can support the majority of a household’s water needs for eight months in a year.

Best practices in city management

Apart from Mexico City, four cities were also recognised as Special Mentions for their best practices in city management:

1. Cape Town, South Africa – A story of emerging stronger from tackling its severe water crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic through agile governance as well as more resilient communities.

2. Melbourne, Australia – A highly liveable city, enhancing its quality living environment further and bouncing back from COVID-19 through the activation of its popular laneways, investing in transport and strengthening design excellence in its built environment.

3. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – A bold revitalisation of its city centre with creative strategies to enhance pedestrian accessibility and emphasise low-carbon solutions, transforming and enriching its urban fabric, bringing residents and visitors back together post-pandemic.

4. Wellington, New Zealand – A leader in its extensive community-based ecological restoration efforts that ensures natural environments and their rich biodiversity continue to thrive alongside urban areas.

The Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize award ceremony and banquet will be held at the upcoming World Cities Summit, which will take place from 2 to 4 June 2024.

Cable Cars as Feasible Urban Transport Option?

In Conversation with Loreta Castro Reguera & Manuel Perlo

Roads Reimagined