The ‘Cities of Tomorrow’ conference in Bucharest offered insight into an up-and-coming market: Romania is currently the fastest-growing economy in Europe. And it is by no means only the capital, Bucharest, that is booming.
Secondary cities such as Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, Brasov, Craiova, Iasi and Constantia are meanwhile also characterized by highly dynamic growth. That was one of the core statements made by Dr. Marcel Heroiu, Senior Urban Development Specialist at the World Bank and one of the authors of the report “Magnet Cities: Migration and Commuting in Romania”. He summarized the results of the more than 400-page-long report at the “Cities of Tomorrow” conference held in late February and organized for the sixth time by the German-Romanian Chamber of Industry and Commerce. As regards immigration, the availability of jobs has long since ceased to be the sole deciding criterion, the attractiveness of the city in question now also plays a vital role. In this respect recent years have seen significant change, also evidenced by the fact that well-educated and well-trained people in particular can now enjoy a high standard of living in Romania.
Infrastructure, culture, education – there is still much to be done
Much is still to be done, however, to further enhance the attractiveness of the cities. One important topic here is the transportation infrastructure both between the main economic areas and within the commuting areas of the individual cities. It is also necessary to promote the renewal of residential space and rehabilitation of residential neighbourhoods and to make progress in expanding cultural offerings and extending green and recreational areas. A further decisive factor is investment in education and training. It is no wonder that the most rapidly growing cities in Romania are those with universities.
The conference had the theme “Reconversion & Revitalisation”, a subject that stands at the very top of the agenda in many Romanian cities. During the communist era, big industrial installations were built relatively close to city centers, but have now become for the most part derelict. Who could be better qualified to address this topic than Hans-Jürgen Best, City Director and Head of Planning of the City of Essen? His presentation dealt not only with his own city, but also related to the surrounding cities of the Ruhr region and highlighted the various avenues toward and options for “intelligent urbanization”.
One important part of the conference was the afternoon workshops, which afforded the participants – most of whom are responsible for some aspect of their cities’ operations – an opportunity to share knowledge and experience in small groups. The spectrum of workshop topics included energy efficiency, financing and EU funding, mobility, recycling management, tourism, building codes, digital city administration, and the conference’s main topic “reconversion and revitalisation”.
Romania also represented at EXPO REAL
The need for information and the exchange of knowledge and experience is great, and the number of participants has meanwhile risen to about 350. The event is not least a persuasive advertisement by the German-Romanian Chamber of Industry and Commerce for Romania’s joint stand at EXPO REAL, where the cities can present themselves and explain how they imagine their futures. Romania is worth a second glance because it is interesting not only as a promising location for investment, but also as a beautiful country with very friendly people, which also has a lot to offer as a destination for tourism.