#44 Bristol & UK Urban Futures Commission: Building Efficient Cities For A Just Transition

Episode 50 September 27, 2023 00:38:25
#44 Bristol & UK Urban Futures Commission: Building Efficient Cities For A Just Transition
Smart in the City – The BABLE Podcast
#44 Bristol & UK Urban Futures Commission: Building Efficient Cities For A Just Transition

Sep 27 2023 | 00:38:25


Hosted By

Tamlyn Shimizu

Show Notes

In this episode, our journey leads us once more to the United Kingdom, where we met and discussed with Marvin Rees, the Mayor of Bristol, UK.


With him, we talked about urban development, climate action, leadership in cities and the importance of a just transition in the face of climate change.

He also told us about the UK Urban Futures Commission, an initiative led by Core Cities UK and Lloyds Banking Group, to develop a transformative national plan for the future of UK cities.


Download the Commission's "Unleashing the potential of the UK's cities" report here.


Overview of the episode:

01:13 - Teaser: our guest describes Bristol and the UK Urban Futures Commission in three words.

02:26 - What is Marvin's background, and how did it bring a unique perspective to his work?

10:54 - What is the UK Urban Futures Commission? What is the primary topic or issue that it is dedicated to addressing?

16:10 - How can cities use the knowledge shared by the Commission and put it into practice?

18:38 - Strategies and projects in Bristol aimed at mitigating environmental challenges while also fostering economic growth

23:51 - What tips does our guest have to give about leadership in cities?

35:05 - Hot Take of the Day: we hear an opinion from our guest that may be slightly controversial or debated

37:03 - Ending Question: To you, what is a Smart City?


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Want to join us for an episode? Contact our host Tamlyn Shimizu.


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View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:06] Tamlyn Shimizu: Welcome to Smart In The City, the BABLE podcast, where we bring together top actors in the Smart City arena, sparking dialogues and interactions around the stakeholders and themes most prevalent for today's citizens and tomorrow's generations. I am your host, Tamlyn Shimizu, and I hope you will enjoy this episode and gain knowledge and connections to accelerate the change for a better urban life. Smart in the city is brought to you by BABLE smart cities. We enable processes from research and strategy development to co creation and implementation. To learn more about us, please visit the BABLE platform at BABLE SmartCities. EU. So today we will be going back to the UK, and specifically to the city of Bristol. We will not only be discussing the city's ambitions and initiatives, but also diving into the UK Urban Futures Commission. So if that sounds interesting for you, wait until I introduce the guest. So even more interesting, of course, is always our guest. He is none other than the mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees. Welcome, Marvin. [00:01:10] Marvin Rees: Thank you very much. Great to be with you. [00:01:13] Tamlyn Shimizu: Great to have you. So I read that you know Bristol very, very well. Born and raised, right? [00:01:20] Marvin Rees: That's right, yeah. [00:01:22] Tamlyn Shimizu: So I was wondering if you could describe Bristol in three words only. [00:01:31] Marvin Rees: International, contradictory, changing. [00:01:39] Tamlyn Shimizu: I like those. Why contradictory? [00:01:42] Marvin Rees: Because Bristol's got a great story to tell to the world about what it is. It's got a great cultural offering. It's a foodie city, it's a very wealthy city, but it's one of the worst cities in the UK to be born poor in. We have entrenched inequalities racial fractures, and so we hold together this very progressive brand with these entrenched inequalities in Bristol and these divisions. [00:02:06] Tamlyn Shimizu: Really interesting. And I'm wondering if you can do the same for UK Urban Futures Commission. Describe it in three words. [00:02:14] Marvin Rees: Three words. The commission. Intentional. Solution. Leadership. [00:02:26] Tamlyn Shimizu: Ah, very good. And so we're going to dive in a little bit more to that, of course, but that gives the listeners a little teaser into it. Before we dive into those aspects, I want to learn a little bit more about you. Of course, we can read about you online, but from your words, from your mouth, I want to hear about your background. What's everything else between? Okay. We know you were born in Bristol and raised. What is all the missing pieces in between? [00:02:54] Marvin Rees: Well, the definition of all the shaping of who I am starts actually with my birth. I've increasingly realized it's actually my mum's story that really politically motivates me. So I was born in 1972. My mum a white woman, 23 years old, no money, poverty, unmarried, with a brown baby on the way. That wasn't the done thing. My mum was really disrespected, I think, during those years, we ended up in a kind of refuge for a little while when I was a child before moving on to an estate. So I experienced racism in a city kind of over people calling me names all the time or chasing us down the street. But my mum experienced hostility disrespect as well, bringing me up and bringing myself and my sister up. So that's really shaped me. And I do think that my years since have been a combination of a number of things. One is trying to escape those circumstances of our childhood, one is trying to kind of overturn teach a lesson, confound those cultures and organizations that disrespect him in family and people like that as well. I'm always drawn to underdogs as a result, and then trying to create the conditions in which people can have hope, because as a kid, there were periods of time where I felt pretty hopeless. And we want everyone in Bristol to have an opportunity to have hope. [00:04:29] Tamlyn Shimizu: That's really powerful. I wanted to ask you a little bit more about that background as well, because I know that you're the first person of Black African heritage to be elected mayor of any major European city. How do you think and you touched on it before, but maybe to dig in a little bit deeper, how do you think that unique perspective has helped you or also been a challenge for you in your work? [00:04:54] Marvin Rees: Well, I think there's a nuance in my identity as well, because I'm Black, but a mixed race as well. So has it helped? One is I think I come into political office. I have the lived experience of existing in the side of Bristol that I offered up as a contradiction to the outside story. There were times when we didn't have enough to eat. It was not unusual as a kid to have men drive past us in the car and then tell us to go back to where we come from or say worse. That was that. I tell those stories not as a way of trying to get sympathy or to win votes, but as an explanation of why I approach politics the way I do and why I found it impossible not to get involved in politics. It's not something I wanted to do. What I said is Eric Garcetti said this, a former mayor of La. He said, I run because you can't not run. And it perfectly describes I'm in it because I can't not be in it. But, yeah, it does bring a perspective. I guess that really the height of that. I've noticed come during the Colson statue period of time when the statue was pulled down, because what you had was a statue of a slaver. That's what it was in the middle of the city. But what you also had was a number of people not celebrating a slaver, but celebrating or finding identity in this kind of Founding Father character that had been built up, mythology that had been built up around him, that have become synonymous with their Bristolian identity amongst the white population. I might suggest that is struggling to have a sense of itself and its story. Right. I think, ironically, people from oppressed groups generally can be more in touch with their story than members of dominant groups, because when you're oppressed, you have to fight for your identity. Right? So a friend of mine wrote a paper years ago on identity in Britain and found that Welsh people, Irish people and Scots did not struggle with their sense of identity in the same way as white English people did. I'm not saying that's absolutely true, but it was really interesting that in Wales, Scotland and Ireland, people have fought for that sense of know. It's tested every day. If you're white English, you just float through life. You never have to question that. So you had that going on in Bristol. And I do think that I sat in a space as a mixed race person with white family who was descended from enslaved Africans, my family's from Jamaica, and that's the place where I spoke. You know, dare I say, we managed to hold our city together and speak with emotional intelligence in inclusive language that recognized the dynamics that were playing the city and chart a way through it without the city descending into open conflict. [00:07:46] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, this perspective is really interesting also, because I'm from the US and so, of course, we have a lot of these people would say identity politics or lots of different things going on under the surface. So I would say that that unique perspective that you bring into the leadership position is fundamental to the policies that are shaping the cities. So maybe you can also mention how, like, a specific policy or specific item that you've implemented that has been shaped by your background. [00:08:21] Marvin Rees: Well, it'd be. Our number one policy is house building and tackling the housing crisis more broadly. But as a child growing up, we had a lot of challenges, but one of the things that we could do was go home and close the door. And then behind that door, there were challenges to it on occasion, but behind the door on the whole was our safety, our foundation, our base, having an affordable home. And by that I don't just mean to pay the rent or the mortgage, but affordable to run within a community in which you can get to know your neighbors. And importantly, I think a real home is a place where you have the opportunity to offer hospitality. The Bishop of Kensington did some work on the theology of housing, and one of the features of good housing is you can offer space to people to come and you can host. I thought it was a really interesting additional dynamic to thinking about what makes for a good home. Building homes is the foundation for education, better mental health. And I would say, actually, I visited a family not too long after I was elected in a house that we had built, one of 13 houses on a brownfield site. And there was a family in there that had moved from one of our tower blocks in the city. And now they had a home. It had solar panels, it was efficient, it had a back garden. I went around and they had two children under the age of three. And as I stood on the doorstep for all the noise I get from trolls and all that sort of stuff, that all evaporates, because everything in that family's life had just gone in the right direction. The likely freedom from food, poverty, the stability of their marriage, the educational journey of their children, the mental health of all of them, their sense of dignity. So house building is definitely born out of those experiences. And I would add, too, by the way, I think stable housing creates the conditions in which populations are better able to cope with change. When we talk about climate change, well, climate change, yeah. And population change from inward migration. There was someone said to me from a team we had visited from Harvard a few years ago, people don't fear change, they fear loss, but often change presents itself as a risk of loss. But if we've worked and you said, look, here's your house, your house ain't going, you're going to have a home, you're going to have hope, you're going to have access to health services, you can have access to an education. I'm not guaranteeing it used to some utopia, but it does create a condition in which new people don't represent a threat to your standing and your hopes of you and your children. So I think it's a key policy. [00:10:54] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, thank you so much for sharing that. I think these topics are really fundamentally important for us to speak about. Of course, we're coming more from this kind of smart city topic, but we always like to bring in these aspects of inclusion into the discussions around climate. So, yeah, thank you so much for your insight on that. I want to bring in the UK Urban Futures Commission into this. Now, can you explain a little bit about what it is you said? One of the words that you used is leadership, right? Like, how does it exemplify leadership? What is the primary topic and issues that it addresses? [00:11:28] Marvin Rees: So I'll say why? I say leadership because we have these things in the UK called cities, and you'd think that these are pretty significant, but there is no plan for the UK cities. What's the plan? What do you want to do with them? What do you want them to be? Where do you want them to go? There is no plan. And that's why I say this is leadership, because this is stepping into a space where there's little real, meaningful political thought or economic thought, or social. Look, we built the Urban Futures Commission. It originally came out of discussions with the LGA City Regions Board, and we'd call cities UK and there were three questions we thought needed answering. Needed asking and answering. The first is, what are cities? So let's just not be lazy about it. It's not just clumps of people living densely. They are particular things, right? They are things in terms of density, they're things in terms of a culture, cultural dynamism, in terms of their role within their boundaries, within their city regions, travel to work every within nation, and their global connectivity in their relationships with industry. Cities are things. Let's understand what they are. When we understand what they are, then we can work out how to use them, because we understand this asset that's within us. So the second question then is what do we actually need our cities to be? So let's come up with some descriptors. I would say you can throw things out like cities need to be places people can afford to live. We need our cities to be globally connected, we need them to be decarbonized, we need them to be politically stable engines of economic growth. We can come up with these descriptors, but let's have an evidence base that says what we need them to be. And not just next year. By the way, this is not for the next one year, two year brochure. We should have a kind of a 15 year picture of the journey we want our cities to go on. But that what we need them to be will be a function of local, national and international challenges. Because cities could be part of the solution. Not the total solution, but a major part of it, because most of the world lives in cities now. And then the third question is, okay, well, if we know what we need cities to be, how do we get them there? What needs to happen? That's the question of kind of political leadership, access to finance. So if Bristol is going to be a city in which people can afford to live, we need to build tens of thousands of houses, then the types of houses we build and where we build them will be building the biggest determinants of our impacts on climate. So we want Bristol to build out emissions, so let's build on brownfield sites, inactive travel zones, but it's more expensive to build brownfield sites forward. So then we need to think about the financial vehicles that accompany cities. So those three questions, what are cities? What do we need them to be? How do we get them there? That in and of itself, asking those questions is one of leadership because it's not being grounded. [00:14:18] Tamlyn Shimizu: And so how have you answered these questions within the report? How did you come about? Did you do lots of interviews? How was the report kind of founded? [00:14:31] Marvin Rees: So we were knocking this question around within core cities, UK and the LJ City Regions Board, and then had a partnership with the RSA, which has been incredible. And Andy Haldain then has come on to co chair this with me. He's the chief executive of the RSA and former chief economist of the bank of England. So, incredibly impressive team then, from the RSA came around to run the research. So at all points as well, I think it's really important to say that this has to be evidence based. What we've ended up in the UK over recent years, partly for political reasons, as in terms of electioneering, is this kind of towns versus cities debate. So the argument goes, our cities get everything. I mean, this is the politics of the time, isn't it? So much politics is based on pointing out that someone else has got it easy and you've got it hard. It's a real victim language. But what we're saying is let's have an evidence base of what cities are right? And that's what the RSA brought to the table. Intellectual firepower, research ability, talking to, looking at the evidence base from our partners like PwC and so forth, our universities. And then we pulled together a group of commissioners, including people like Bruce Katz from the United States as well, author of Metropolitan Revolution and War, who have all been inputting to how do we answer those questions. So we don't own the evidence, obviously. We rally the evidence, drawn previous reports as well, and put it into this Urban Futures Commission report format. [00:16:10] Tamlyn Shimizu: That sounds really wonderful. So how can we take how can the cities in the UK take the information in the report and put it into practice? Like, how can they use it best? [00:16:22] Marvin Rees: So it's a good question. Other people working on this might differ with me on this, but for my sense is that the cities themselves are not the primary audience. Cities need to know because it will help them describe themselves. And leaders of cities, I think, could grow in their appreciation or grow in their comfort, as it were, because they know that the rest of the world are now at last recognizing the potential of cities to be, well, the essential role that cities are in solving national and international challenges. But for me, the gap between cities releasing their potential and realizing it for their own good and for the world's good and not, is about the policy restrictions that are surrounding them. And finance. If we want to build houses, we need money and we don't always have the powers. We want to be able to get stuff done. To me, the framing of this to national government is not going and saying, hey, look, this is what we want cities to be in 15 years. Please give us loads of money so that we can become the fullness of the vision we have for ourselves. No, the framework is, hey, national government, you've got some major challenges you're trying to take on. You want the country to be politically stable, you want to deliver on the Global Sustainable Development Goals. You want to decarbonize. You want to have something big to say at Cop, which is about how you are pressing ahead with meeting the climate challenge. You want solutions on the global migration crisis and the housing crisis. This is what we are, this is the nature of our offer. And if we go on this 15 year journey, we're part of the solution. So do you want to work with us to unlock this potential? It's a partnership that's on offering and also not just national government finance. So the private sector business need the economy to grow. They need a stable workforce, they need a resilient workforce, they need places for their people to live. Okay, partner with us, partner directly with the cities in which you want to base yourself and we'll give you a workforce in the future that is more resilient, as in it turns up to work because it hasn't got back pain and depression or caring problems or housing problems. We'll build you that more resilient economy, but work with us to build it. [00:18:38] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, that's really powerful. I'm really excited actually to dig into this report and learn a lot more about this vision for cities and how it can appeal to national government as well. So for the climate aspect, I want to dig in a little bit more to that because we talk about it a lot. Obviously, it's one of the most pressing issues today and I'm wondering if you can share maybe a few specific strategies or projects in Bristol aimed at mitigating environmental challenges, but at the same time, because I think this is important, fostering economic growth. [00:19:14] Marvin Rees: Yeah, so I'll give you a couple. So again, I think we need to just remind ourselves as well what's increasingly being recognized that the battle against climate change is going to be won or lost in cities. Most of world live in cities and bad urbanization will drive inefficiency of human life. And it mean that we maximize the price the planet pays for hosting every additional human being through cities and their offer of efficiency through density. We can minimize the price the planet pays for hosting each additional human being, but we have to get ourselves organized and get ahead of urbanization, the very nature of it. But in Bristol, we've just done a deal called City Leap. First of its kind, Leap doesn't stand for anything other than it's a leap in our relationship to energy. But we've done that, took four years, cost us 7 million pounds. It's a deal with Amoresco and Vattenfile, but it's releasing a billion pounds of investment over the next 20 years into our energy system using our heat networks and it will work with renewable generation, heat distribution, smart usage and storage. Isn't EV charging part of that deal as well? So that goes down to the critical nature, the relationship with money. City Leap, I would add, by the way, is kind of a very real world manifestation of a challenge that the chief exec of Siemens Europe I forget which title Siemens Europe or Siemens UK shared. At a core cities meeting, he said, we have the technology to solve 80% of the problem. What we don't have is the financial technology to get that technology rolled out. We don't have the financial vehicles that get retrofitting done in our old housing stock. Right? We could do that, but we don't. We know what the technology is around airsource, heat pumps and hydrogens coming through. But obviously we've just built a load of houses with ground source heat. We know what the technology is, but getting out is the challenge. Again, that comes back to that point I made previously about finance, working directly with cities so we can get stuff done in our populations. So City Leap is there. The second thing I would say, which is not actually about technology itself, but about future city design. So we've got 472,000 people. We're going to be 550,000 in Bristol by 2050, apparently. The question is, we got to build homes for these people. Where do we build them? Why don't we build them on brownfield sites in the middle of Bristol, building at higher density, including height, which is a controversial issue in Bristol. But what else are you going to do, right? And make sure that those homes are in active travel, distance from the main retail employment destination. You build in efficiency to the way we live. And so that's what we're trying to do. So we're just working through our local plan at the moment, which designates land use across the city. And again, I'd say that's something for it takes expertise, it takes back room capacity in local government. And by that I mean not just where we spend our money on services, but keeping lawyers and planners employed that no one ever campaigns for. But we need them to make sure our cities is designed for efficiency in the future. And I'd say there's a massive opportunity, by the way, in the Global South to put resource in, to make sure that those rapidly urbanizing growing cities are grown in an efficient, organized way. It's not just a case of social justice. It will maximize the efficiency of those Global South cities and reduce the pressure on climate change. It's not glamorous, is it? I forget the mayor, a mayor of one of the Scandinavian cities, said, we have these aspirations. What, we own the best city for being smart or the best city for being that. He said, I want my city to be the most functional city in the world. He said it's not glamorous. It's not glamorous, but that's what you want. It functions. And I thought, actually, in the lead up to this, I was given a Ted Talk last year and I thought, actually, I just want to be the most efficient city in the world. Minimum use of resource to meet our population's needs that way we lighten our footprint on the planet, right? Minimum use of resource for transport, minimum waste for food, reducing water waste. I'm not going to get on top of that in eight years. I'm in, and I've got about ten months left. I finish in May 24. I won't have solved that, but hopefully we've put stuff in place that puts us on a trajectory for future politicians, political leaders and populations to reap some rewards from that. [00:23:51] Tamlyn Shimizu: I like the idea of being the most efficient city in the world. I think we might have to think of a New Award title or something for that. Love those thoughts. So you said you finish in next year. You're finishing as mayor, so I have a hypothetical question for you. So imagine a mayor of a similar size city just came into office. He walks into his office and you are standing there. What is the one or two top tips that you can give him about leadership in cities? Him or her? [00:24:28] Marvin Rees: Well, there's a leadership in general and then cities in particular, so leadership in general, I would say, find people who are smarter than you and ask them to work for you. There's a great scene in West Wing that I was told to watch. Actually, that might be my advice, watch West Wing. When I was first selected, I met a guy called Richard Angel in London, and he said, oh, you need to watch West Wing. And there's a moment where Bartlett is going off to his State of the Union. I might butcher this scene, but this is roughly it. And he says to the young representative who's in his office, he says, have you got a best friend? He said yeah. He says, Is he smarter than you? He said yeah. He said, do you trust him with your life? He said yeah. He said, there's your chief of staff. So find really smart people and never ask them to be less than they can be. So even when they're out shining you in meetings, never ask them to put their light under a bushel. And I'm in meetings all the time where I'm like, I'm just about keeping up with this. [00:25:29] Tamlyn Shimizu: People talk and I'm just here sometimes. [00:25:32] Marvin Rees: It leaves me thinking, what's my actual job? [00:25:34] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, but you're the Uniter, right? You're bringing them together. [00:25:39] Marvin Rees: I think that is it. I guess I would suggest, as an extension from that, that one of the things that perhaps a good leader does bring to the table when they're in the middle of a load of smart people is they have the ability to sit with the discomfort of having everyone around the table who's smarter than them. Some people, even smart people, can't cope with that. So they would start to ask people to be a little bit less, whether it be overtly or just by their attitude. So if you have the ability to allow people to flourish, that's very humbling. [00:26:10] Tamlyn Shimizu: Right. But I actually took a leadership course this past year as well. A lot of just leading is not about actually doing tasks or anything along those lines, but you're really just there to bring everyone together and bring all the ideas together and bring the smart people to the table. So that's what I learned there as well. Thanks for that tip you were going to say about a tip for cities in general, I think, yeah. [00:26:37] Marvin Rees: And it's to wrestle with the word interdependence. So one of the points we made from the beginning is that life in Bristol is not for anybody, is not determined by the decisions or non decisions of any single organization. People sit at the intersection of decisions from local government to private sector, voluntary sector unions, health, higher education. And if you're serious about shaping city outcomes, you will rally all of those sources of sovereignty and bring them into alignment. That doesn't and a former chief constable here, Andy Marsh, said to me over dinner once, world class public sector leadership is not about what you command and control, it's about what you can influence. And so making the space for the health service to come, alongside housing providers, alongside criminal justice, alongside trade unions, that's what we've done in Bristol through something called the city office, where we try to bring all our partners together. So I'll give you a story of origin on that. About a month after I was elected, I convened a meeting of these city leaders and we had about 70 people turn up and my office did a back of the envelope calculation and there was about a six to six and a half billion pound footprint in the room. And between us, we employed 70,000 people in a city of just over 460,000 at the time. So I said, well, look at what? Look us. We're over 6 billion pounds and we employ 70,000 people. We didn't account for our service users and our customers. So if we all in this room on this day, committed to three things we wanted to get done for Bristol reducing domestic violence, tackling child hunger, delivering homes, what could we not do? Got phenomenal power in the room. If we convened and got ourselves organized and focused on a small number of shared priorities rather than having 627 priorities amongst us, that doesn't mean you give up your hinterland, your own specific areas, but you just say, do you know what? There's a priority, overall priorities, because we're all buying into it as a city. And that's the way we try to lead Bristol through the city office. [00:28:40] Tamlyn Shimizu: That's really good. That also reminds me, I did an episode with the head of Climate in Helsinki at Kaiserta, Great great woman. And she came on also with her colleague Susa, and that was during the Urban Future Conference, actually. And they were speaking about so they have at Urban Future Conference fuck up nights. And where you talk about the biggest mistakes that you made. And she went on stage and she also did the episode with me as well, and was talking about how as a city, she created all these actions to combat climate change for the city. And then at the end of it, they realized a lot of the actions that they were doing did nothing. They calculated it and they did nothing to actually stop climate change or actually meet those goals. And so then turning around, they focus a lot more like what you were talking about on these very set targets, prioritizing things that they actually had data behind, that they could back up. They could say, these are the ones that are going to actually make the change. So that reminds me a lot of what you mentioned as well. So we have a lot of those listeners also that maybe they're not mayors, but there's maybe very smart people as well who are practitioners working in cities. So, as a mayor, what do you say to city practitioners working together with their mayors and other leaders in the city? Do you have any tips there? [00:30:05] Marvin Rees: And I'm sure they are, but I'd say to everyone, turn up as a solution. I tell you the culture we've done here, by the way, actually, how about this? Around the city office, we develop something very subtle, but we call it the culture of make a big offer and then make a big ask. And the point is, I can have a queue of 1022 people around City Hall all asking me for stuff. The queue of people who are coming to make an offer is a lot shorter. So my point is, and this is now kind of practice in the city, come to me and tell me what your offer is to Bristol. You're going to end child hunger, make the offer, right? You're going to tackle rough sleeping, make the offer. You're going to help us decarbonize the city, make the offer. And decarbonisation of Bristol, by the way, on that last point, is not just about decarbonizing Bristol City council, it's the health service, it's universities, right? It's the public transport system that we don't own. So you can't have an approach that's just about local government saying this, that and the other. All these organizations are kind of sovereign. But make a big offer. And then when you've been clear on your offer, make a big ask of Bristol, not just me, of the whole city. What do you need from the city to release that offer into the city? So I'll give you a couple of examples of how we've used that children in the care system. A few years ago, I got some numbers from our care team. They stood up at something that we call the city gathering, which we do every six months now, where it's like a village meeting for Bristol. That meeting of 70 now is 400 they come into City Hall and we talk about what's going on in Bristol. It's a networking time. But we also say, this is the big picture, this is where we are, this is direction, this is the priorities for the coming year or two. Right? But someone stood up and said, this is my offer to Bristol. No one, no child in Bristol will be in the care system in a home who doesn't have to be in it. Every child will have a home and then that's the offer. The ask was, we need 100 foster families to come forward. And in that room we had businesses, voluntary sector, not just local government. We ended up recruiting about 70 foster families off the back of that. And one major employer, I think it was Hargreaves Lansdown, actually looked at a HR policy and said, all right, we're going to look at our HR policy to support members of our staff who come forward as foster families. So that make an offer. If you turn up as a solution, people bite your hand off. But I can always get people to come and start shouting at me in City Full council about, you need to do this, you need to do that, without any appreciation of the other 50 priorities that people are putting on your table. That kind of selfish direction, selfish lobby and selfish activism has really had its day. [00:32:54] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, that's really interesting insight. So thanks for sharing that. The last question I want to ask you is, I like to give the open floor now in case there's any topics that you feel like we didn't touch on today, that you really want the listeners to know. Again, being a large part of our audience is really people focused on smart and climate neutral cities, people working in cities, city practitioners, those types of people. Do you have anything that you really want to say to them today? [00:33:24] Marvin Rees: I just think we must deal with climate change, obviously, as an existential threat down the ways, but we must make sure that we deliver a just transition. That phrase has to be seared on any strategy. Right. I think one of the big ironies of climate change is the poorest and most marginalized you get if it hit first and hardest by the consequences. But the perversity within that is that they are also most vulnerable to falling on the wrong side of the economic restructuring we're going to have to go through being structured out of economic hope and opportunity. And if they are disadvantaged, financially disadvantaged, by the structures, the change we have to go through, they're going to abandon the project and you'll end up with a backlash. We've seen it. Right, and that's going to be a problem. I'd add to that that if people are financially disadvantaged by climate change made unstable, made insecure. You add that to the prospect of 150 climate driven migrants who will look like me, black and brown people coming from the global south. You will have an environment that is ripe for toxic politics. As predatory politicians like Farage and Trump move around the world and start harvesting the fears and insecurities of our populations. And that kind of dangerous politics also comes with climate denial, so we'll end up going down a plug hole. So with just transition, I think is absolutely essential. [00:35:05] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah, I 100% agree. So thank you for that. Now we get to move on to our last little segment of the day, and that is called Hot Take of the Day. Hot take of the day. We want to hear an opinion of yours that may be slightly controversial or debated. So do you have an idea of what your hot take is? [00:35:36] Marvin Rees: I think the thing that immediately comes to mind is to say we need to build in and up. I run into some controversy in Bristol because people say, oh, you just want to build tall buildings all over the place. I'm trying to copy other big cities. I do say we need to build tall buildings, but that's because I think we need to house people more densely within our cities. At the moment, cities take up just under 3% of the Earth's surface about our homes, 55 coming on, 60% of the population. As the population grows, we do not need cities to start to get up five, six, 7% of the Earth's surface. We need to house those people on the same surface area to protect land for nature and make sure that we are living efficiently. So build in and build up. [00:36:23] Tamlyn Shimizu: Yeah. You're trying to copy some US cities in building up? [00:36:27] Marvin Rees: Well, that's what they say. It's not that I have a spiritual commitment to height. Yeah, it's just I'm saying with the. [00:36:33] Tamlyn Shimizu: Growing population, what other solution is there? [00:36:35] Marvin Rees: Yeah, what else are you going to do? You're going to sprawl or you're not going to build homes in the face of a growing population? If you agree, once you agree, you got to build homes, the question is where you advocate for greenfield sites or you advocate for putting as many people on brownfield sites as possible. But obviously, quality justice and all the rest of it need to go around that you don't want to build towers of deprivation as we have historically. You have to have a whole new approach to that. But I think that's got to be a key part of the future of cities. [00:37:03] Tamlyn Shimizu: Hot take. Yeah, thanks. And now is our last question, and it's a question that we ask every single guest that comes on here because of the very unique perspectives of the guests that we have on. And it's to you, what is a smart city? [00:37:19] Marvin Rees: Smart cities, for me, is one in which people are connected, included, and life works. [00:37:27] Tamlyn Shimizu: Another good three word definition. So good then, with that, I'm sure you are a man with very little time. So, of course, I thank you for spending your time with us today and with all of our listeners. So, yeah, thanks so much for coming on. [00:37:45] Marvin Rees: Marvin all right, thanks very much. [00:37:47] Tamlyn Shimizu: Thank you. And to all of our listeners, don't forget, you can always create a free account on BABLE SmartCities EU. You can find out more about different projects, solutions, implementations that are happening across cities. Thank you very much. Thank you all for listening. I'll see you at the next stop on the journey to a better urban life.

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