The global series Imagine 2060: Delivering Tomorrow’s Cities Together was launched on 30 March 2017, with the inaugural symposium in Manila, Philippines marking the start of a 3-year international collaborative series led by AECOM and Asia Society.
The five cities which Imagine 2060 will explore in its first year – Manila, Sydney, Los Angeles, New York, and Hong Kong – all have long histories and relationships with their respective waterfronts. Those histories, and their differences, will generate a range of ideas which participants in Imagine 2060: Imagine Manila series will share with each other as well as with the designers, developers and dwellers of other waterfront cities around the world, to enhance the economic potential of their cities, and the lives of their citizens.
The 2017 theme “At the Water’s Edge” celebrates the origins of many great cities and their evolving relationship with water. After the 2017 events, the following two years in the Imagine 2060 series will be dedicated to Earth and Air, and the potential for cities to deploy land and aerial space for their future transformation.
The public discourse at the Manila event brought together local and international leaders in urban design, infrastructure and public policy to connect with a common goal – imagining a long-term vision for Metro Manila with the potential of urban waterfront development a focal point, and addressing issues that might get in the way of realizing the vision. Speakers and commentators shared viewpoints and relevant case studies drawn from other waterfront cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Sydney and San Francisco, which Manila could explore in its quest to recreate itself as a truly 21st century waterfront city, and which would reinstate it as the so-called “Pearl of the Orient” – a compliment which was often bestowed on it less than a century ago.
The Manila discussions addressed the challenges of achieving an integrated and inclusive approach, one that would continue the aggressive transformation needed to provide new space for enhanced livability, while conserving historical sites and monuments. They also covered the competitiveness to be gained from waterfront renewals, and explored decision-making and performance management frameworks for smart infrastructure development – frameworks which have proven effective for other major waterfront cities and that could be considered for Manila.