Design Excellence Forum - Pierre Mansat

(6.30pm, Thursday 25 October 2012, Lower Town Hall)

Thank you, Graham [Jahn, MC], and welcome, everyone, to our Design Excellence Forum with Pierre Mansat.

I would like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who call our city home.

I would also like to acknowledge the Planning Minister, Mr Brad Hazzard, and the French Ambassador, Mr Stephane Romatet who are also here tonight.

Tonight, we're privileged to welcome Monsieur Pierre Mansat, who is not only Deputy Mayor of Paris but also one of Europe's leading urban planners.

Monsieur Mansat was instrumental in bringing together a huge number of governments and authorities who shared responsibility for the governance of greater Paris.

By forging a consensus that went beyond party politics and short-term thinking, he has been able to achieve great changes for the people of Paris. We are grateful he has made time to share some of his ideas with us.

Sydney and Paris may be separated by geography, language and history - but they also share a great deal.

Both are large and growing cities facing the challenge of fitting in more people, more business and more visitors while also retaining the identity, culture and public open spaces that make them world-renowned.

How do we address what are, at times, competing demands placed on our cities?

Excellence in design is not an indulgence - it is an opportunity to find solutions to the challenges we face. It is an opportunity to improve people's lives.

The City of Sydney is proud to invest in excellent design.

Excellent design isn't limited to iconic buildings that dot the skyline - it is also means creating great parks, pools and open spaces, such as Pirrama Park and the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre, that encourage healthy lifestyles.

It is building state-of-the-art libraries, like Surry Hills Library and the soon-to-be-constructed Green Square Library, and equipping them with resources that open up a world of possibility to people young and old.

It means forming great streets, pocket parks, community gardens and neighbourhoods that support a real sense of community.

And it means providing sustainable transport options like our network of safe, separated bike paths, car-share and light rail for our city centre and beyond.

Around the world cities are growing - they cover only two per cent of the earth's land surface but they house more than half the world's population.

By 2026, Sydney will need to cope with one million extra people. By 2030, Paris will be grappling with a population of 15 million.

It is in cities that we have the best opportunities to tackle the big challenges we see around the world such as addressing climate change, protecting our environment, promoting social equality and creating safe and welcoming communities.

Repeating the mistakes of the past will only lead to more of the same problems with transport and housing, which is why governments must invest in a range of options.

Cities like Sydney and Paris need more transport - not simply more roads.

Luckily, in a globalised and connected world - a good design that solves a problem on one continent can become a solution half a world away.

Monsieur Mansat has been able to harness the decision making power of multiple layers of government and more than 1,000 local councils to make dramatic improvements for the communities of Pairs.

The Parisian experience shows that great progress is only achieved when different levels of government from different political backgrounds are willing to cooperate and work collaboratively with their community.

Through years of research and consultation with tens of thousands of members of our community the City of Sydney created its vision for the future - Sustainable Sydney 2030.

Sustainable Sydney 2030 reflects the aspirations of our community to make this city green, global and connected.

Excellent design is a critical part of our vision. But to make this vision a reality, we will need the cooperation of all levels of government; the innovation of businesses across a huge range of industries; and the support of the people of Sydney, not just in our local area - but from the city centre to the mountains, rivers and national parks which border Sydney.

As we make big decisions about Sydney's future - I hope the experiences of Monsieur Mansat and the Paris Metropole project can provide valuable lessons to us all.

Thank you.