betty August 1, 2022

SINGAPORE – By 2028, Austria’s capital Vienna will have a campus that houses different religious communities, where interfaith dialogues will be held.

The campus is part of Aspern Seestadt, a new urban development zone that was among the city’s initiatives that helped it clinch the 2020 Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize.

“Vienna aims to provide the best possible conditions for mutual understanding and cooperation among religious communities,” said the city’s mayor, Dr Michael Ludwig, on Monday (Aug 1) at the World Cities Summit, where he spoke about ongoing initiatives to make Vienna more liveable, vibrant and sustainable.

Vienna’s win was announced in March, and Dr Ludwig will receive the prize on Monday evening from President Halimah Yacob at the Istana during a dinner banquet.

The jury citation for the prize – jointly organised by Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority and Centre for Liveable Cities and sponsored by Keppel Corporation – lauded Vienna for “reinventing itself for success in the 21st century without losing its distinctive identity as a capital of culture, music and history”.

The jury cited Aspern Seestadt as a recent example of Vienna’s commitment to affordable housing, which began in the mid-19th century.

Dr Ludwig on Monday said about 62 per cent of the city’s residents live in apartments that are either owned or subsidised by the city, which has helped to keep prices within reach. Also within reach are green spaces – the city is aiming to have every resident within 250m of one in the future.

He added that besides planning for the future, the city is actively trying to tackle two present challenges – climate change and energy shortages.

Vienna aims to be carbon neutral by 2040, he said. To work towards that, it is investing €1.2 billion (S$1.7 billion) into solar panels, and also has a geothermal energy project.

Dr Ludwig said residents are also involved in decision-making, and their input is sought for climate matters.

“Local residents have been invited to submit their own ideas for climate projects,” he said. “They are the experts for their own neighbourhood and know best what needs to be done.”