City Expo Malaysia, Photo Credit to City Expo Malaysia
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Major Gathering of City Stakeholders to Create Better Cities

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The shaping of great cities can happen by chance, though often, it is the result of a certain degree of planning to ensure the settlement can thrive in its given environment. 

What makes a city great? The obvious and easy answers could be its people, the food, the outdoor environment, transit systems, and perhaps inspiring art and architecture. 


However, by looking at a deeper level, we can soon find that there are other nuances on what makes or break a place – for residents, visitors, business, and the environment. In this vein, open discourse about cities by its stakeholders is vital towards creating a better future.


Read: Expo to Celebrate Town Planning in Malaysia Happening in November


This is what the City Expo Malaysia 2021 (CEM 2021) hopes to achieve this November (forum from 8-12 Nov, and exhibition from 8 Nov to 8 Dec), by providing that crucial platform to shape discourse on how to build upon a common vision, expressed through shared values and aspirations.


Hosted on a fully virtual platform, CEM 2021 is designed to drive the debate around our cities, inviting various stakeholders to share their ideas and solutions to combat the challenges brought about by urbanisation. This expo will highlight the role of urban planners, as represented by those in the Malaysian Institute of Planners in the country, and their counterparts from the region. 


“The esteemed profession of planning helps us to chart a course for our cities in the delicate balance between functional efficiency and social equity. In this regard, few entities have done more to continuously advance collective knowledge, shared experience, and cooperation in Malaysia than the Malaysian Institute of Planners,” said Datuk Seri Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), at her speech to mark the soft launch of CEM 2021 on Wednesday (Aug 25). 


At the event, Maimunah delivered a talk titled World In Pandemic Crisis: UN-Habitat’s Strategies in Handling It as part of the CEM 2021 Star Talk moderated by MIP President, Datin Tpr Hajah Noraida Saludin. 


In her speech, Maimunah called upon planners to help the people make sense of their times, yet not let go of “imaginative exploration” as they attempt to explore what the near future will be like. 


“As planners and more broadly a planning community, we strive to help others make sense of their socio-political environments by offering better, clearer and stronger conceptions of what lies ahead. In turn, our predictive work and recommendations give cause to new and more progressive city policy and legislation. 


Meanwhile, with each regulation and planning framework passed, our work as planners fuels the persevering quest of cities to achieve an elevated state and better quality of life for all through the generations,” she said.


“Today, Malaysia is one of the most urbanised countries in Asia, experiencing significant cumulative growth in the last two decades transforming the country from 34% urban in 1980 with estimates of growing to 80% by 2030. Recognised challenges associated with this rapid urbanisation include the urban-rural divide, increased urban sprawl and lack of affordable and adequate housing, as well as, green and open spaces, poor urban mobility and connectivity, traffic congestion and other social ills,” she added. 


For Noraida, the discussions on Wednesday and at the upcoming CEM 2021 Forum could not have come at a better time. 


“With Malaysia having one of the highest urbanisation rates in Asia, this discussion is of critical importance. Translated through best city planning practices, this clear road map to success will benefit the millions of Malaysians that live in our cities today and tomorrow. This year is also a good time for a critical review of the business of town planning as formal town planning in Malaysia hits its first century,” said Noraida, who together with her team, has been praised by Maimunah for continuing MIP’s legacy of continuous learning by organising CEM 2021 in partnership with Nextdor.  


Imran Clyde, director of City Expo Malaysia, said the experience with the pandemic has shown that a lot more thought needs to be put in to ensure our cities and townships become truly liveable. 


“This means, there will be a lot of eyeballs on CEM 2021 as people try to reimagine a post-pandemic urban environment. But placemaking is way more than just ensuring the allocation of open space, as effort and thought must be put in to make sure the space is inviting and welcoming. 


In relation to this, CEM 2021 will provide a valuable platform for both local, regional, and global exchange of views and information on how to make this happen. On this note, we are pleased to say that virtual booths for CEM 2021 are now on sale so that all stakeholders can have a dedicated place to promote their cause, specialised knowledge, and unique perspective on urban planning.”


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