Moscow, 7 December 2017 – Earlier this year, the Ministry of Construction of Russian Federation [ ] launched a countrywide project to improve the urban environment through the improvement of urban public spaces. Focused on implementation of the New Urban Agenda and SDG 11, the Project aims to improve public spaces across municipalities in the Republic and in doing so create an attractive and lively urban environment and improve quality of life and attractiveness of cities and towns.

The first Expert Council met on in November.  The meeting was opened by the Minister of Construction, Hon Mikhail Men, and chaired by the Vice-Minister, Andrey Chibis. International experts, as well as local governments from the Russian Federation and various Ministries representatives attended and contributed to the discussions following presentations on progress of the Priority Federal Project “Formation of Liveable Urban Environment” , proposed legislation changes and indicators development for the measurement of quality of urban environment.

The Project involves 1653 municipalities across Russia, and deploys a budget of about USD300 million from Federal Government and USD200 million from regional budgets. Its focus is the improvement of residential areas - where 15,900 courtyard have been already improved - and the creation and improvement of public spaces, with 1950 spaces already improved.

A new generation of efforts

UN-Habitat contributed through specific presentations to the discussion on indicators, where Eduardo Moreno, Coordinator of the Research and Capacity Building Branch presented the City Prosperity Index approach and discussed the methodology for measurement. Laura Petrella, Leader of City Planning, Extension and Design also provided an overview of key policy tools being promoted by UN-Habitat to support public space creation and improvement. She also highlighted possible tools available to support such programme, learning from initiatives in other countries both at local and at national level. The Public Space toolkit of UN-Habitat Russian version was shared with participants and is being completed with Russian practices for broader distribution in the country.

Mr Chibis, Deputy Minister, stressed the need to work increasingly on city-wide strategies on public space and urban development, and expressed an interest in developing a capacity building programme for municipalities and other stakeholders. He also highlighted the project successes and the opportunities that exist to move to more systemic impact as shown through the legal changes being proposed.

The Project is a huge and innovative undertaking by the Federal Government to address urban quality and translate global commitments into local action and its successes and lessons are being analysed in designing the next steps. It is part of a new generation of efforts by national government to support change at the local level, engage with residents and build local initiatives and capacity in the field of public space, and its linkages with urban quality and development.