- Auckland, Los Angeles, and Guangzhou share similar challenges as our cities grow. There are many areas that we can share experiences and learn from each other on.
- A memorandum of understanding signed by the Tamaki Makaurau Design Alliance, Guangzhou Urban Planning Design Survey Research Institute (GZPI), and Los Angeles Business Council (LABC) at the Tripartite Economic Alliance will allow designers to “contribute solutions to the growing and constant challenges that fast-growing, multi-cultural cities provide.”
- While many of the characteristics the three cities share can be viewed as challenges, they are also symptoms of thriving hubs of economic growth.
“We share with you the challenges that superdiversity brings – and, like you, we are excited about its potential.” – Anthony Healy
The term ‘sister cities’ is no misnomer; just as siblings in a family share similar characteristics, so too should the cities who join forces under these partnerships. The members of the Tripartite Economic Alliance – Auckland, Los Angeles, and Guangzhou – seem acutely aware of where their similarities lie.
Auckland is certainly the younger sibling, with a population of 1.45 million, compared with 19 million and 25 million in the greater metropolitan areas of Los Angeles and Guangzhou respectively. However, each of the cities are facing similar challenges in the face of growing populations.
“We share the challenges of living in a sprawling, car-dependent city with housing affordability issues.” -Anthony Healy
“We share the challenges of living in a sprawling, car-dependent city with housing affordability issues,” said Anthony Healy, Managing Director of BNZ.
The numbers bear out these comparisons. According to the Guangzhou Municipal Land Resources and Housing Administrative Bureau, house prices in the city’s ten urban districts rose 10.5 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2015. Auckland’s median house price rose 17.3 percent in the year to October 2015, by REINZ figures. Los Angeles saw a rise of 5.8 percent in the same period.
More significantly, the median house price in Los Angeles in the second quarter of 2016 was 92.9 percent higher than five years ago – a long-term struggle that Auckland may also have to brace itself for.
The similarities offer opportunities for local authorities and private businesses to share expertise and experience in addressing the challenges that come with managing such urban growth. The Tripartite Summit featured an urban design seminar, for example, which gave a platform to all three cities to illustrate development in their urban centres.
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles highlighted the importance of companies that are “supporting the growth of global cities with an eye towards the space and environmental constraints that we must all integrate into new development.”
Mayor Garcetti spoke of the way his city has taken heed of examples of successful public facilities such as the Guangzhou Public Library and Auckland’s new Nelson Street cycleway – “something to inspire us all.”
A memorandum of understanding signed by the Tamaki Makaurau Design Alliance, Guangzhou Urban Planning Design Survey Research Institute (GZPI), and Los Angeles Business Council (LABC) is an example of a more formal arrangement brought about by the Tripartite Alliance.
The initiative brings together architects and urban designers from the three cities. The purpose, in the words of Mayor Len Brown, is for these designers to “contribute solutions to the growing and constant challenges that fast-growing, multi-cultural cities provide.”
“China is striving with a development approach of innovative, correlated, green, open, and shared development.” -Xu Erwen
Xu Erwen, Chinese Consul General in Auckland, emphasised China’s increasing cooperation with the outside world. “China is striving with a development approach of innovative, correlated, green, open, and shared development,” said Madame Xu. “China is working together with the outside world to recognise the win-win of cooperation.”
Awareness of the importance of shared characteristics between Auckland, Los Angeles and Guangzhou is present even in the top echelons of central government. Steven Joyce, Minister for Economic Development, focused on the “gateway” status of all three cities: “the point where that particular region touches the world.”
“There’s an amazing mix of cultures we have in this city, it is one of New Zealand’s greatest assets.” -Steven Joyce
“There’s an amazing mix of cultures we have in this city,” said Joyce. “It is one of New Zealand’s greatest assets.”
That’s the other area where Tripartite delegates seemed to be in unison regarding the common nature of the three partners. Healy encouraged the delegates to “embrace the diversity, understand the opportunities it presents, and leverage it.”
Addressing the Los Angeles delegates directly, Healy said, “We share with you the challenges that superdiversity brings – and, like you, we are excited about its potential.”
Speaking on the High Value Foods panel, Rohit Shukla, chief executive of the Larta Institute in Los Angeles threw down a challenge. He urged the audience to consider what we could do as three world-class cities, and suggested the creation of a tripartite working group that would be dedicated to food safety, reliability, and innovation in high value foods. “This would involve a combined research effort across the three cities, and must include the collaboration of universities, public health bodies, and regulatory agencies,” said Shukla.
“By creating a grand challenge for collaboration, the tripartite alliance could create high value foods that are good for our economies, and good for our planet,” he said.
Shukla emphasized how important it is that the applications of research are understood and framed in the context of what is happening in the world. “It is a fast moving world and no longer alright to focus on research for research sake,” he said. “The problems we face are so urgent that there must be a continuing connection between research and the adoption routines of the marketplace”.
The broader theme of these messages was one of optimism. While many of the characteristics the three cities share can be viewed as challenges, they are also symptoms of thriving hubs of economic growth.
As Andrew Patterson of NBR Radio said, “The issues around house pricing and infrastructure, while very painful for Aucklanders, are good problems to have – in the sense that this is a city that is growing, and growing rapidly.”