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At the IDB, we believe that together we can go farther. Our partnership network is making positive differences in Latin America and the Caribbean every day, and this blog is our channel for telling that story. Stay tuned for literature on partnership perspectives, stories from the field, changing trends, outlooks for development and the region, information on ways and opportunities to partner, and more. Thanks for stopping by.

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PIE: A Korean Recipe for Urban Development Success

By - Dec 10 2015

PIE pic

What is the key to sustainable urban development? This is a question we posed to Sang Keon Lee, Senior Research Fellow at the Korean Research Institute for Human Settlements, an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) partner in the area of urban development. Citing success stories in his home country, Dr. Lee visited the IDB for Cities Week, joining municipal leaders from around the world to discuss challenges, achievements, and how-to’s related to urban sustainability. Hear now from Mr. Lee himself about partnerships, citizen involvement, and PIE—the essential mix he has deemed a recipe for development success.

IDB: What do Latin America and the Caribbean’s cities stand to learn from Korea?

Dr. Lee: In urban development, the main factor we need to consider is leadership. Leaders of institutions, political leaders, and mayors must reach the people and citizens, showing them the future and a vision for urban growth. It is then important to systematize that vision into a plan, a very concrete and very feasible plan that can be implemented with financial support. We must consider whose funding and what kind of methodology will be used to put this plan in action.  Is it a land acquisition methodology? Waste management? It must be a methodology that will succeed in the context of a particular country or city. This may require some time or effort, but it is important to create a concrete plan, involve land owners and financial intuitions like the IDB, and then determine how to implement. Lastly, all actors must come together to evaluate this plan. Has it done good or bad? If it’s done good, how can we proceed further? If it’s done bad, how can we improve?

This kind of virtuous cycle—which I call PIE for planning, implementation, and evaluation—can make a gradual, step-by-step difference in your city. But unfortunately, PIE takes time—it takes time to learn. As such, leaders may give up, drop out, or try to discard their city development plan. But they key issue is to never drop out, to never give up. Spirit is very important in this journey to urban development. A city may face many big obstacles and conflicts, but if you give up, if your mayor or political leader gives up, nothing can be done. This kind of “never give up spirit” is very important.

IDB: What is the role of partnerships in this process?

Dr. Lee: While the PIE process is extremely important, actors are extremely important as well. In regards to public-private partnerships, the Korean government creates intermediate institutions, public corporations to link the public and private sectors. With the state in close collaboration, the private sector engages public corporations by, for example, buying a land lot, developing apartments, and selling them to the public, and by partnering with governments to provide essential infrastructure and basic services. This kind of role assignment is very critical. That’s the reason I want to emphasize the institutional roles of governments, public corporations, planning institutions, and the private sector. Each actor has its role and limitations, and it is because of this systemic role assignment that we have success stories to share today.

IDB: When we work to improve a city, we’re working to improve the lives of people who live there. What role do citizens have in making their cities a better place?

Dr. Lee: It is essential that citizens participate. In Korea, citizens’ dialogue with public officers—be it through complaints or feedback—is very, very critical. Today, giving feedback is easier than ever. We live in a smart phone world, where citizens can easily utilize their phone to voice their thoughts without going to city hall. When city public officers get complaints, they immediately try to address the issue. If citizens had no interest in this kind of public participation, cities would be more likely to stagnate. That’s why positive citizen participation in city administration and public service policies is essential to a city’s development.

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