January 23, 2018

‘Metropolis’ urban conclave

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Berlin Mayor Michael Müller: Cities have the biggest problems

Berlin Mayor Michael Müller.
Berlin Mayor Michael Müller.
Berlin Mayor Michael Müller.
By Michael Soltys / Herald Staff
Berlin and Buenos Aires have been twin cities since last year and the German capital’s new Mayor Michael Müller takes a fraternal interest in the host venue of this week’s “Metropolis” urban conclave bringing together the world’s million-plus cities.

At an exclusive press round for the German-speaking press here (held only in that language), the Herald invited Müller to describe Berlin’s solutions to two of the biggest problems here — traffic congestion and crime.

The successor of the colourful Klaus Wöwereit challenged some of the premises of the transport problem. One way to have less commuter traffic was simply to have less commuters — i.e. having people living closer to their workplaces downtown and also in more autonomous neighbourhoods with less need to move around. Both residents and jobs have expanded substantially in downtown Berlin in recent years since an efficient S-Bahn overhead rail network (no cars) and plenty of green spaces make for an attractive quality of life. Although rising prices and a housing shortage also lead to City Hall trying to keep people out as well as bring them in — it’s complicated.

Müller also challenges the assumption that cities should be planned around cars and roads — cars are not everything, he said (perhaps an unexpected observation coming from a German), and other priorities should prevail. At the same time he would be the last to say that there is any single governance model which meets all needs.

Crime seemed a bigger problem here than in Berlin, he said, suggesting that the co-ordination of national and local police forces could be a further complication. In Berlin the police had clear political backing with a focus on preventive approaches to crime.

This week Müller straddled the national and local divide at political level, meeting with President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Cabinet Chief Aníbal Fernández on Monday and lunching with his opposite number Mauricio Macri on Tuesday. The mayoral visitor took note of Macri’s presidential aspirations from the way he strayed from municipal to national issues. Macri complained to him about the problems of free health care in City public hospitals with people coming from all corners to take advantage of them but the German found himself thinking why not more free care in Europe.

One example of how cities can be mirrors for each other to see what works better or worse. Cities have the biggest problems, says Müller —rubbish, traffic, energy consumption, water — but also the best-equipped means of dealing with them such as big businesses and universities. Müller is a big champion of municipal protagonism, arguing that local authorities should take their place alongside federal and state governments in any reforms, and also proud of his city-state’s ability to go it alone (rejecting a unity referendum with Brandenburg in 1996). He is looking forward to returning to the region for the UN Habitat III Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Quito in October — he sees metropolitan cities and regions as hubs for sustainable development.

The twin city partnership (formalized by Wöwereit in a visit 13 months ago) was in part born out of the porteños’ strong identification with the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall throughout last year but also a lively cultural exchange between two cities which know how to enjoy life.

  • Increase font size Decrease font sizeSize
  • Email article
  • Print
  • Share
    1. Vote
    2. Not interesting Little interesting Interesting Very interesting Indispensable

  • Increase font size Decrease font size
  • mail
  • Print

    ámbito financiero    ambito.com    Docsalud    AlRugby.com    

Edition No. 5055 - This publication is a property of NEFIR S.A. -RNPI Nº 5343955 - Issn 1852 - 9224 - Te. 4349-1500 - San Juan 141 , (C1063ACY) CABA - Director Perdiodístico: Ricardo Daloia