Home > Speeches > Closing Remarks by Professor Cheong Koon Hean (Chairman, Centre for Liveable Cities Advisory Panel) at World Cities Summit 2024, Closing Plenary on 4 June (4 to 5.30pm)

Closing Remarks by Professor Cheong Koon Hean (Chairman, Centre for Liveable Cities Advisory Panel) at World Cities Summit 2024, Closing Plenary on 4 June (4 to 5.30pm)


    • Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen – Good afternoon.

    • It is my pleasure to offer some concluding thoughts and to undertake the “herculean” task of summarizing the key insights from our discussions, before we wrap up another successful edition of the World Cities Summit.

    • First, thank you for participating actively for the past few days.

    • This year, we saw government leaders, industry experts, and academics from across the world convening in Singapore.

    • Many MOUs were signed between government, private sector, and academia, signalling the spirit of strong collaborative partnerships.

Reflection on WCS24 theme:

    • The theme of the 2024 World Cities Summit revolves around “Liveable and Sustainable Cities: Rejuvenate, Reinvent and Reimagine“.

    • This theme was carefully chosen to highlight how Cities must continually adapt and innovate if we are to transform our challenges into opportunities.

    • Based on your inputs, to “Rejuvenate” requires cities to prioritize investments in green infrastructure, promote mixed-use developments, and foster community engagement to create inclusive and resilient urban spaces.

    • Many cities also showcased best practice experiences on how they “Reinvent and Re-imagine” their cities.

Mayors Forum:

    • We had a vibrant discussion at the Mayor’s Forum which saw close 100 Mayors and city leaders from 96 cities.

    • Several Mayors and city leaders focused on two important sub themes:

      1. Harmonising ground-up and top-down efforts towards a sustainable and inclusive future; and

      2. To Reinvent the ways Mayors lead their cities.

    • To balance ground-up and top-down approaches, mayors and city leaders called for a collaborative, multi-stakeholder approach and to steward ground up innovation and participation while putting in place robust governance systems.

    • Mayors highlighted the need to integrate climate and social resilience and adopt regenerative urban development. Mayors also acknowledged that there are diverse viewpoints and trade-offs to be considered.

    • There was overall agreement that mutual sharing among cities can accelerate reinvention and reimagination.

WCS Tracks:

    • To further explore the theme of liveable and sustainable cities, this year’s summit featured 5 tracks focusing on a range of topics. This included:

    • The Resilience and Regenerative Cities Track, which focused on how cities are leading climate actions towards 2050.

    • The panel discussions highlighted the need for appropriate national-level policies as well as collaboration across various scales between international organizations, state governments, local councils and finally, the citizens so as to address climate issues.

    • Of particular interest was plenary 2, which focused on regenerative urban design – a call for a mindset shift not only to minimise harm to the environment but actively restores and enhance ecological systems.

    • The Cities for People Track showcased how brownfield cities like Bogota and Shanghai were reinventing themselves.

    • Here, the discussions illustrated how technology could play a crucial role in building cities for people, especially to enhance citizenry participation.

    • Tools like virtual twins can help us to make more informed planning decisions. They help to make complex information universally understandable and highlight the impacts of policies, such as visualizing pollution.

    • The Smart Cities Track examined the use of technology to address urban challenges with a strong reminder to apply technology with a good understanding of the urban context to serve the real needs and aspirations of people.

    • Drawing from the likes of cities such as Taipei, Bilbao and Helsinki, the discussions highlighted the importance of inclusivity in city policy and planning, emphasising the need to ensure that no one is left behind.

    • Of interest was also Glasgow's use of data and analysis to tackle urban challenges.

    • Certainly, the incredibly diverse and rich insights will leave us with many take-aways to mull over after this summit.

Key highlights:

    • I want to round off by highlighting 3 important initiatives that complement and strengthen the value proposition of the World Cities Summit.

      1. [Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize] First, the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize that was established in 2009. It is co-organised by the Urban Redevelopment Authority Singapore and the Centre for Liveable Cities and seeks to celebrate and learn from the best urban practices from the best-in-class cities from around the world. These cities show us that it is possible to create change and positive impact for our urban communities.

        • This year, Mexico City has been awarded the 2024 Prize for its outstanding commitment in uplifting the lives of citizens through innovative and sustainable urban initiatives, especially for the less privileged.

        • We recognise also the 2024 special mentions of the prize award. They are: Cape Town, Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro and Wellington. Each city has demonstrated their determined efforts in executing innovative solutions that have achieved significant progress for their cities.

      2. [Young Leaders Dialogue] Next, we have established a Young Leaders Dialogue since 2013.

        • The WCS Young Leaders are a nominated group like-minded change-makers from diverse sectors. They will form our next generation of leadership by contributing their expertise and experience to shape the global urban agenda.

        • This year’s Young Leaders Dialogue featured a panel discussion on community engagements to build social resilience; and a workshop session with our young leaders to discuss how smart technologies can be used to build resilient and inclusive communities.

      3. [City Network for Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize (LKYWCP Network)] Lastly, I am also pleased that we have launched the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize City Network at this Summit.

        • This is an initiative that will foster deeper city-to-city partnerships to create and exchange knowledge on sustainable and liveable cities.

        • Our 7 prize laureates have come together as founding members of the network. The 20 Special Mention cities that have been recognised by the prize over the years have also been invited to join the Network. We look forward to welcoming more future award recipients to join as members and will also invite some other cities as Associate Members.

        • The inaugural forum had the different member cities reflecting on their urban challenges and sharing best practices of their respective cities.

        • The discussions underscored the importance of long-term thinking with members highlighting how strategic visions worked to improve the resilience and liveability of their cities.

        • For example, New York City shared how PlaNYC provided a coherent long-term vision and roadmap that extended beyond a single mayor’s term.

        • Vienna demonstrated the importance of collaboration among citizens, city governments, and knowledge organizations to co-create liveable urban environments that meet the diverse needs and passions of the people.

        • I foresee enduring, long-term partnerships with the members of the LKYWCP Network.

Closing remarks

    • The World Cities Summit this year has brought together about 3500 delegates and is an invaluable opportunity for collective thought and action.

    • Please continue with these conversations and stay engaged in building better cities for all.

    • With that, do take the time to enjoy the remaining activities or networking opportunities and to get to know Singapore better for the rest of your stay.

    • Thank you again for attending the 2024 World Cities Summit. We will see you again soon at Mayors’ Forum 2025 in Vienna and the 2026 edition of the World Cities Forum in Singapore.