The academy was devoted to questions surrounding sustainable urban development. During a meeting with the local representatives of the opposition party „Yabloko”, Anatoly Golov, Evgeny Konovalov and Boris Vishnevsky, the participants had the chance to gain insight into specific features of housing policy utility service in Russia. Main trends and challenges connected to major deregulations of municipal economies and the almost complete lack of any open competition in the provision of communal services were discussed. According to the experts, years of ineffective municipal management have led to a significant decrease in the quality of life in the city. Monopolistic providers of communal services have no economic incentives to improve the quality of the services they offer. At the same time, consumers have neither the possibility to control nor to choose the service provider. A solution might lie in the creation of new rules for the participants in the communal service market.
The meeting with the civil society activists Alexandra Nenko and Olga Mnishko focused on the possibility for residents to change the face of their city through creative industries and local cultural interventions. The biggest challenge for the activists in St. Petersburg seems to be the establishment of a dialogue with local authorities, who work within a different value system. However, no matter how hard it may be, a dialogue between civil society and authorities is crucial for the successful transformation of urban spaces.
Anna Kryukova and Victoria Rudenko shed light on the irreversible catastrophic consequences climate change has on modern cities. Especially cities in the coastal zone, such as St. Petersburg, are highly susceptible to dramatic changes in weather conditions, abnormal rainfall and flooding. Currently, St. Petersburg does not have an adequate strategy to counter these natural disasters. However, in order to effectively adapt to the changing climate, it is not enough to rely on the efforts of single cities. A close regional cooperation is needed.
During the applied part of the academy, the participants took on the roles of managers, local politicians and activists and discussed and developed a strategy for the fictional city of Yasnograd.