World Bank leaders visited Helsinki – global challenges of urbanisation up for discussion

Press release from the City of Helsinki

World Bank leaders visited City of Helsinki and Mayor Jan Vapaavuori this week. (Photo: Veeti Hautanen)

Sameh Wahba (in the middle), Global Director for the Washington D.C. based World Bank’s Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land Global Practice, and his delegation visited Helsinki this week. The visitors were hosted by Mayor Jan Vapaavuori (third from the left) and the city’s head of international affairs Jani Moliis (third from the right). Chief Advisor, International Affairs Heidi Humala (first from the right) was in charge of the planning of the programme for the visit.

Through its actions, the World Bank supports the reduction of poverty and the reaching of the UN’s goals for sustainable development in developing countries.

The fact that the World Bank is interested in working with Helsinki on issues related to, for example, the challenges of large cities in developing countries, is an indication of Helsinki’s strong reputation as a problem-solver.

“The collaboration is also very interesting to Helsinki, as we want to develop not only our own city, but also participate more broadly in solving worldwide challenges. The collaboration with the World Bank provides Helsinki with an efficient and natural way of contributing to the favourable development of cities in developing countries, and hence, with an opportunity to carry global responsibility. I am happy that our negotiations concerning a collaboration, which started back in 2018, are now taking a concrete step forward”, notes Mayor Vapaavuori.

The topics during the visit include synergies related to the city development as well as the themes and forms for the collaboration between Helsinki and the World Bank, which will be put on record in the Knowledge Partnership: Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU is due to be signed in autumn 2020.

The growing importance of cities also seen in sharing of knowledge

Urbanisation is one of the global megatrends of our time and cities are growing at an unprecedented rate especially in developing countries. According to the World Bank’s estimate for 2050, almost 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in urban areas, and almost 90 per cent of the growth will take place in Asian or African cities.

“The importance of cities as players is constantly growing, as the practical solving of global problems takes place in cities. Helsinki’s functionality and progressiveness make us an interesting collaboration partner on the international scene as well”, says head of international affairs Jani Moliis.

The programme for the visit introduced the representatives of the World Bank to five themes, which are connected to Helsinki’s knowledge and learnings. The themes are:

– smart city and engaging perspectives,
– development of innovative and functional city areas and suburbs,
– the carbon neutrality goal,
– development of innovation and competitiveness and,
– ensuring housing for a growing population.

The programme for the group included visits, for example, to the Maria 01 startup campus and the smart neighbourhood of Kalasatama.

“The theme introductions and visits are an incentive for long-term exchange of information and for harnessing the city of Helsinki’s skills for the benefit of cities in developing countries. The themes will be developed further in connection to a more extensive expert visit in the autumn”, tells chief advisor, international affairs Heidi Humala.

Further information

The World Bank – Urban Development
The most functional City in the World – The Helsinki City Strategy 2017–2021

Date of publication: 6 Mar 2020

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