0531 GMT January 28, 2020
Vienna is the music capital of the world. The Austrian capital is a city of history, culture and art. The city’s cafés, castles, museums, universities, parks and beautiful houses are among the spectacular attractions to the eyes of tourists. Vienna is also children’s green city, the city of cyclists and a town with affection for the handicapped. Vienna is sitting in the heart of the history. Although the city’s appearance was destroyed in the early decades of the 20th century, thanks to its capable, professional and successful urban management, Vienna has managed to preserve and revive its beauties.
Experts, with knowledge of modern urban issues, have built Vienna in such a way that it is ranked as the world’s best city for living for the 10th consecutive year in Mercer’s 21st annual Quality of Living Survey in light of 30 urban indices.
Annually, six million tourists visit Vienna which, itself, has a population of 1.8 million. Managing a city which annually hosts a population three times larger than its own is not an easy task. Those who are responsible for managing Vienna use human-based urban management techniques, methods and approaches. That is why Vienna has emerged as a green paradise in the heart of the industrialized Europe. Mayors across the world are concerned about their citizens’ public realm becoming restricted. In Vienna, however, the citizens have a public realm larger than that offered by any other city in the world. The per capita green space in Vienna is 120 meters, which is a very important feature of the city.
We know Vienna and attach importance to its valuable urban features. The northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz, one of the country’s biggest cities, is Vienna’s sister city. The Iranian capital of Tehran also shares many common features with Vienna, exactly based on which a four-year MoU has been signed between the two cities’ mayors. The historical background of cooperation between the two cities is brilliant. The presence of Austrian contractors and companies in Tehran is encouraging. We hope that scientific and technical cooperation between the two metropolises would further deepen and become more strategic. We are attempting to turn Tehran into a more habitable megacity proportional to successful urban management indices in the heart of the Middle East.
Tehran and Vienna have many commonalities in terms of their urban forms, including their vast mountainous area, historical fabric and rich cultural heritages. These common characteristics provide the two cities with numerous opportunities for expanding cooperation. We are willing to cooperate with Vienna’s startups involved in the field of urban management to better manage Tehran. Like Vienna, Tehran has also a high potential for attracting tourists in the light of its historical and cultural attractions. We would like to use Vienna’s experiences in the fields of attracting millions of tourists and successful urban management. Tehran’s citizens are very hopeful that we manage to reduce the city’s high pollution. Vienna, Europe’s fourth greenest city, is geographically significantly similar to Tehran. That is why we are willing to study the technology and urban governance approaches and methods used in the city. Our basic plan is to expand the public realm of Tehran’s citizens by transferring the city’s factories and military centers outside the town. We have serious plans to promote the cycling culture in Tehran. However, in a significant part of the city, electric bicycles are required due to steep streets. We are interested in cooperating with industrialists and manufacturers in Vienna to transfer the technology of producing electric bicycles to Iran.
Our urban management approach is human-oriented. We are making endeavors to reduce the number of streets and cars in Tehran and increase that of the city’s sidewalks and bicycles. We do not seek to make decisions about the city without the citizens’ participation in this process. We intend to do our planning in cooperation with the people of the city, not on their behalf. This approach has been adopted based on citizens’ rights. Our management system has been established based on the centrality of the neighborhoods and social participation. Our activities in Tehran are mainly focused on preserving and promoting urban values, such as health, education, tranquility and habitability. Like Vienna, we try to turn Tehran into a city suitable and accessible for the handicapped and the disabled. Tehran, in the light of its human and technical development horizons, has numerous investment capacities where the grounds are already prepared for cooperation with Tehran Municipality, private sector and new knowledge-based firms.
Tehran is not the sole beneficiary of the cooperation with Vienna in its development, as managing a city with a population of over 10 million has led to the accumulation of valuable experiences for those responsible for it which can be shared with urban managers in other countries in the form of technical know-how. Tehran is a historical city. Archeological explorations show that the historical background of habitation in certain neighborhoods of the city, such as Dezashib and Qeytarieh, dates back to pre-Islamic era, close to 15 centuries ago.
Tehran is the second biggest megacity in the Middle East and ranks among the world’s top 24 largest metropolises. In 2011, Tehran was praised as one of the world’s top five cities in the field of public transport in UN Global Sustainable Transport Conference. In the same year, the city received the Metropolis Award as one of the world’s top cities in terms of offering a high quality of life. In addition, Tehran won the Energy Globe Award. Several major development projects have been implemented in Tehran which have a global reputation. The city’s Tabiaat (meaning ‘nature’ in local language) Bridge and Chitgar Lake are two of such projects. These projects in addition to hundreds of major cultural, social and urban events have helped Tehran Municipality rank among top large organizations in the world.
The large organization’s domestically-developed technology as well as considerable accumulated knowledge and experience can be used by other cities, particularly similar ones, across the world. We, in particular, have expertise and are an international brand in the field of constructing big urban tunnels and are capable of implementing such projects in other countries. Tehran is a glorious, peaceful and prosperous city in the heart of the tension-ridden Middle East. Reports by foreign tourists show that the city can be an exciting and dreamlike destination for European visitors.
In a world which is disturbed by violence, we hope to be able to expand peaceful social relations by increasing cultural and people-to-people exchanges and help prepare the ground for the people, across the world, to gain greater knowledge of each other. This is an aspiration the achievement of which is in need of participation by all citizens across the globe.
* Pirouz Hanachi is the Mayor of Tehran