Manifesto

Cities are currently home to more than half the world’s population, and by 2020, this figure will increase to 70%.

There is much to talk about life in a modern city. Our obsession over quality of life has spawned a race of city rankings based on various metrics: from security to connectivity, infrastructure to sustainability. Cities, however, are more than just cold, hard facts. Urban design, planning and policies are not a perfect science.

There are intangible factors that define a city: its character, its flavour, its desirability, its lovability.

We have heard about (and contributed much to) the bad side of our cities: inadequate public transit system, lacklustre public spaces, poor city planning, languishing neighbourhoods.

For all of our cities’ shortcomings, we want to progress from a rant-mode to a solution-mode. We believe, first and foremost, we need to embrace the complexities and challenges of our urban landscape; we need to listen to and learn about our cities. We want to adopt new ways of interacting with our cities. We want to explore new possibilities.

Addressing urban spaces
Public spaces in most cities are under-utilised. We want to make better use of transitory urban spaces: parks, bus stops, walkways, wastelands; to get people together for conversations, causes and communities.

Addressing idle time
Urban living is filled with idle time: waiting in queues, doing nothing and being comfortable with that. We want to replace idle time with conversations by getting people to interact with their surroundings and cities.

Lovability beyond liveability
Every city has unique factors: street corners, laneway labyrinths, food trails, its urban scent and taste. We want to increase loveability, not just liveability of our cities by celebrating this uniqueness.

Present and actionable
We have a vision of a better city. We want to begin today, focussing on the here and now. We want to implement ideas that are smart and actionable.

Collaborate
The real potential of cities lies in policymakers, producers and people working and negotiating together. The ownership of this campaign is open. The city belongs to everyone.

In short, #BetterCities aims to:

  • get people to want the best for our cities;
  • offer opportunities and activities to interact with our cities in unique ways;
  • encourage initiatives to contribute to a positive change in our cities;
  • take action to make our cities more liveable and lovable;
  • address better usage of idle time and under-utilised public spaces in our cities;

We believe great things happen when people get together and are imaginative about our shared spaces.

We want to join forces and collaborate with other stakeholders — designers, urban planners and thinkers, businesses, institutions, organisations, policymakers, artists, students, teachers, city dwellers — on this project to achieve the fullest potential of our cities.