Friday, 15 November 2013

Riga Seminar - extension of deadline

We've extended the deadline for submitting the abstracts for our Research Network seminar  till 25th November, Monday. If you would like to take part in the event without presenting then you can register till 2nd December 2013.

Please, follow this link to get updated Call for papers with some more practical information.

Looking forward to seeing you in Riga!

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Forthcoming seminar in Riga

After quite a lengthy break our network is organising another research seminar to share the ideas and results of recent research in the sphere of capital cities development. 

The topic of our third seminar is 'Capital Cities: Embracing the Change and Tapping into Opportunities". We are organising it jointly with out wonderful partners at Latvia University and Baltic Inter-regional Development Hub.

After 5 years of dramatic changes in the global economy and a growing role of capital cities as the centres of creation, education, consumption and governance there are plenty of examples how different cities reacted to the global economic crises. Some harnessed it as an opportunity, others went with the flow and are seeing the depletion of their power and influence. What works and what doesn't in other countries? These are important things to know for those who are looking for the answers to their questions about future development of capital citesa across the globe. 

Please join us in Riga on the 13th of December 2013. Follow this link to access full Call for Papers. Deadline for submitting the abstracts is 17th of November.

Do spread a word among your colleagues who might be interested in joining our discussion and learn about new trends in capital cities' development.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Kyiv seminar report - key trends and conclusions

We have already published links to the presentations made during our last research seminar in Kyiv. Now we would like to share brief report of what was discussed by participants who came from 7 European countries and what are the major trends of the development of capital cities across Europe.

While the objective of the first research network seminar organised in Warsaw in September 2011 was to look at the crisis as an opportunity and as a challenge for the development of capital cities, second seminar was dedicated to some initial stock-taking of the effects of crisis on cities’ socio-economic development, their budgets, job markets, economy’s structure, investments and urban planning, how it affected policy decisions and reconfiguration of financial flows, influenced governance structures and city strategies.  

After brief introduction - welcome words from network co-founder Dr Olga Mrinska and welcome letter from the Chancellor of Kyiv National Economic University Professor Pavlenko - colleagues from EUROREG (Warsaw University) has made first seminar presentation outlining the impact of crisis on the Central and Eastern European countries, as well as some regional patterns of its effects. Prof Grzegorz Gorzelak and Dr Maciej Smetkowski (Poland) highlighted that CEE countries have gone through the (first stage of) economic crisis in relatively good shape. Their socio-economic performance is considerably better comparing to Mediterranean EU member states and slowdown could not be compared to the one which they experienced in the 1990s while transiting to open market economy. Capital cities in most of CEE countries have done relatively well out of the crisis, mainly due to the nature of their diversified economies and prevalence of services in their structure. First morning session was concluded by presentation by Yulia Rybak (Ukraine) from Kyiv Regional Centre of Investment and Development who talked about the experience of establishing and developing clusters in metropolitan areas of Nordic countries and how it could be used in the context of Ukraine. Presentation was heavily based on international experience and provided some insights into the planned large-scale investment projects in Ukraine that are being developed by State Agency for National Projects and Investments, including science park in the capital city of Kyiv. The latter part stimulated a vivid discussion among the participants about the realities of Ukrainian 'claster landscape' and the role the Government should play in its enhancement.  
Second morning session was dedicated to the governance and budgetary aspects of the capital cities’ development in the wake of the crisis. Dr Olga Mrinska (Ukraine/UK), independent research consultant (also representing Kyiv-based NGO ILORI) has talked about the governance responses of Kyiv city leadership to the crisis and the way decision-making has shifted over the last several years. The main trend is centralisation of power and deterioration of local self-government/community representation in the decision making, which is observed in the context of very negative trends of socio-economic development of Kyiv since 2008 (it lost about one fifth of its gross regional product). New strategic framework has been proposed in 2011 however despite participatory nature of the process of preparation of Kyiv Startegy-2025 its execution, as well as decisions as for distribution of resources and generating own income by the city, are very much dependent on the central government and its representatives in city administration. Dorota Celińska-Janowicz (Poland) from EUROREG, Warsaw University, then talked about the municipal budget of Warsaw and how it was transformed in the wake of the crisis.With limited opportunities for cutting the costs and dwindling income generation (via drop in personal and corporate income taxes receipts) Warsaw faces challenges of the long-term nature, rather than immediate perils of financial instability. It managed to increase resource base through external borrowings however the load on city budget is increasing as the repayment amounts are growing over time.

Dr Olga Shevchenko (Ukraine) from National institute of Strategic Studies talked about the changes in the distribution of financial flows and resources among the regions of Ukraine and how Kyiv has relatively gained from the decline of other regions. Despite facing dramatic decline in gross regional product, economic activity and investments, Kyiv remains the leader of the national economy and in some spheres has strengthened its positions but mainly due to the weakening of other cities and regions. The policy solutions will have to address the challenges of growing disparities and productive use of financial resources accumulated by capital city for the benefit of the entire country. This session was concluded by Tatiana Borodina (Russia) from the Institute of Geography of Russian Academy of Sciences who described the complex and extensive process of establishing new regulatory framework for spatial development of the city of Moscow. The mega-size of the city and its role as the economic and administrative heart of Russia is causing local residents and businesses lots of problems. Lack of modern master plan and hawkish nature of construction industry is creating further difficulties. The multitudes of actors that need to be engaged and core role of the Federal Government makes process of developing new masterplan and regulations more protracted and non-transparent.

First afternoon session was dedicated to the issues of knowledge-based economy and place-based approach in the development of capital cities. First Prof. Victor Chuzhykov and Veronika Orlovskaya (Ukraine) from KNEU presented results of their research on the global positioning of Ukrainian capital in the context of European competitive model. Based on an extensive datasets and analysis of various indexes they outlined current state of affairs and potential future developments in the innovative sector of Ukraine and Kyiv in particular – as the biggest centre of innovative production in the country. After that Tina Haisch (Switzerland) from Berne University (in co-authorship with Heike Mayer and Fritz Sager) made a presentation about evolving economies of capital cities and how they are becoming more knowledge intensive and more resilient. Presentation covered cases of Berlin and Berne where adaptability and innovative approach to linking private and public sectors in the wake of the financial crisis were the results of a smarter governance solutions based on a greater decentralisation. In these two cases changed policies and governance approach have helped capital cities to address negative consequences of the crisis and open new opportunities for the future.

Liga Baltina (Latvia) from the Centre for European and Transition Studies of Latvia University then talked about the opportunities place-based approach could bring for boosting the development of Riga. Latvia has seen one of the most dramatic recessions among the EU member states and it faces the challenges of mono-centric spatial model where too much is dependent on the capital city of Riga. Great concentration of businesses, jobs, innovations and opportunities further drives up attractiveness of Riga as a number one destination for people and companies. However its territory is not considered as an integral part of the system. Place-based approach to regional development policy in Latvia where territory is considered as an asset and essential element of the city’s economy should open new opportunities for its capital.

Final afternoon session was dedicated to the development of particular cities and sectors. Prof. Volodymyr Shevchenko (Ukraine) from Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University presented the trends of the post-crisis linkages between the international financial markets and banking sector of Kyiv. He highlighted extreme vulnerability of Kyiv’s banking industry (which represents majority of national sector) and its dependence on the international liquidity markets and international parent banks. Due to financial crisis the number of banks has shrunk, some international operators have sold business to locals and the share of bad loans in banks’ portfolio is growing. Accompanied by general economic crisis and downgraded country and city investment ratings this creates a serious challenge to the sector and city economy in general. Then Kateryna Nykoniuk (Ukraine) from KNEU presented the case of healthcare sector of Kyiv and how it is being transformed as a result of large-scale reforms in the spheres of governance, resource allocation and network optimisation, use of multiple providers and introduction of medical insurance etc. It has been argued that in the future healthcare sector might provide a significant boost for capital’s economy due to the large concentration of highly-qualified staff, more rational use of resources, change in stimuli for healthier lifestyle, and significant role to be played by the private sector.

Last paper was presented by Vasileios Kitsos (Greece/Latvia) who is currently based in Riga in the State Agency for Regional Development of Latvia. Vasileios presented the case of urban space transformations in Riga and its surroundings. Before the crisis Riga has seen significant exodus of population from central areas to suburbia as a result of construction boom, accessible loans, rising people’s affluence and preferences for more comfortable life style. After the crisis many developers’ projects remain unfinished while mortgage commitments became unattainable for many Latvians who lost their jobs and have seen salary cuts. New phase of urban development sees some revitalisation of central areas while coherent policy approach to spatial planning in Riga is still to be developed and implemented to tap into the opportunities city’s territory offers.

The final discussion was centred on the following questions: a) What were the factors of capital cites relative success/resilience in the face of the current global economic crisis? b) What is the role of power decentralisation in the process of adapting to the external conditions? c) Which capital cities’ sectors/branches were the most vulnerable to the crisis and why? d) What austerity measures have been implemented by the capital cities’ authorities and what might be their final outcome? e) What opportunities crisis provides for the spatial planning in capital city-regions? 

The variety of answers and solutions from the capital cities across Europe demonstrates the need for cities to adapt while building their crisis mitigation plans on the basis of local strengths and advantages. At the same time there is one common feature that characterises more successful scenarios of crisis mitigation by capital cities: the more autonomy cities have to respond to negative economic and social trends, the more influence they have over generating income and allocating resources, the more flexible and thus more efficient their policies are and their outcomes are more significant. Centralised governance structure with limited powers granted to regional/local authorities negatively affects the abilities of capital cities to address their challenges and plan for the future in a different and less predictable socio-economic and investment climate.     

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Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Presentations from Kyiv seminar

We would like to share with you presentations from the recent seminar of RSA Research Network 'Four Years On: How Have Capital Cities Dealt with the Crisis'. We hope it will be useful and interesting insight into the development of some European capitals.

Here are presentations by:

1. Prof. Grzegorz Gorzelak, Maciej Smetkowski 'Global economic crisis - CEE perspective' 
2. Olga Mrinska Governance responses to the economic crisis. Case of Kyiv’
3. Dorota Celińska-Janowicz ‘City budget in the Crisis – example of Warsaw’
4. Olga Shevchenko  The capital of Ukraine intensifies the accumulation of resources again’
5. Tatiana Borodina Moscow 2012: the analysis of attempts of development regulations
6. Victor Chuzhykov, Veronika Orlovskaya ‘The global positioning of Ukrainian capital in European competitive model’
7. Tina Haisch, Heike Mayer, Fritz Sager ‘Evolution of capital cities economies: Towards a knowledge intensive and thus more resilient economy’
8. Liga Baltina ‘The use of place-based approach in boosting development. Case of Riga’
9. Volodymyr Shevchenko Post-crisis international financial linkages to the capital city’
10. Kateryna Nykoniuk ‘The post-crisis healthcare model in the capital city (example of Kyiv)’
11. Vasilis Kitsos ‘Riga and the global economic crisis’

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Highlights of Kyiv seminar in pictures

Last Friday we had second seminar of our RSA Research network in Kyiv . Thank you all who took part and made it such a stimulating and interesting discussion!

More detailed report and presentations will be uploaded a bit later.

Now we are sharing some highlights of the day and evening spent in the capital of Ukraine:-)

Formal part

Informal part

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

London: Never had it so good?

It is only a couple of weeks left until the London Olympics kicks off and city is putting finishing touches on what should be a great sporting event. Usually such events attract a great deal of attention to host cities and countries, as well as create opportunities to develop city's infrastructure and to improve its image in the eyes of global public. Not that London needs much publicity about what it has to offer to the world though. On the other hand its deprived East End and infrastructure definitely will benefit from Olympic preparations (though I suspect London tube will remain a weak link throughout the games).

It is also a good opportunity for expert community to look at the city's assets, its position in the global economy and its prospects for the future. In one of the latest Economists (30 June 2012) such analysis if presented in the special report on London "On a high" (you can download it for free). Concentrating on the key elements of city life - human capital, economy, housing and transport - the report looks on the factors that have led to tremendous success of London as a global financial centre and world city over the last three decades. It also analyses the challenges London faces due to recent public policy measures designed in response to the global economic crisis.

Authors underline that London's amazing growth and attraction for world's richest and poorest is due to its diversity and openness to the world on the one hand and solid yet liberal legal and financial regulations, that nurture London's status as the world financial centre on the other. Yet since 2008, when trust in financial institutions and its CEOs has tumbled and public attitudes towards immigrants have worsened considerably London is at risk of losing its edge. The UK Government is in the process of introducing significant reforms in regulatory, taxation and immigration spheres, which will make city less attractive for international capital and foreigners. Higher taxes on rich, stricter financial regulations and draconian immigration rules, including for students and highly qualified professionals, might tip the balance for the benefit of new financial centres in Asia.

Also despite having vocal mayor with authorities in the spheres of transport and housing London exists in a highly centralised political system, where all major decisions are taken by the central government without much regard to the local authorities.

At the same time London's global magnetism often causes domestic grudge when other parts of the country are displeased with too much wealth and power being concentrated in the capital. Growing regional disparities are indeed a reason for concern, however forced decentralisation has not brought any good in the past and unlikely to do it in the future.

There is an irony in the dynamics of London development. Global economic crisis, which emerged in London in 2007 (with the demise of Northern Rock bank) did not have as negative effect on London economy as it did on other parts of the UK and European countries. Despite its significant dependence on financial sector London is thriving. However policy measures which are aimed at addressing some of the worst imbalances caused by the recession (state debt, budget deficit, high levels of unemployment, overstretched public sector and cash-hungry private sector) might undermine competitiveness on the city and cause outflow of capital and talented individuals.

So all in all it is a very good read for those who are interested in capital cities development. Also while we are talking about London last week The Centre for London published interesting report on the development of emerging cluster of technological companies in the city - 'A Tale of Tech City'. If you are interested you can download it for free here.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Seminar 'Four Years On: How Have Capital Cities Dealt with the Crisis'

We are happy to announce the date for the second seminar of RSA Research Network 'The Impact of Global Economic Crisis on Capital Cities'. It will take place in Kyiv, Ukraine, on 26 October 2012, Friday.

One day seminar “Four years on: how have capital cities dealt with the crisis” is supported by RSA and will be hosted by Vadym Hetman Kyiv National Economic University (KNEU). 

You will find information about the key research questions, venue, registration process, bursaries and other practical information about the forthcoming seminar in the Call for Papers. Please, follow this link (PDF file will open).

With questions regarding registration and participation please contact local organiser Olga Mrinska.