Moscow Urban Forum: A New Frontier

 (Photo by The Telegraph) 

(Photo by The Telegraph) 

The Moscow municipal government provides an annual platform for international discussion of urban challenges and innovation. 


When nations do not agree, cities lead the way. Although recent policy strategy of the Russian government has not focused on cultivating cross-national alliances, the Moscow Urban Forum (MUF), organized by the Moscow city government, aims to do just that while tackling exigent problems of the world’s cities. Since its inception in 2011, the forum has grown from a platform for highlighting and addressing Moscow’s own urban challenges into an idea-sharing space for policymakers, academics, start-ups, urban planners, designers, architects, and civil society groups from across the globe. Last year’s forum hosted delegations from 68 countries.

Moscow Urban Forum takes place every year and includes the forum itself, the MUF Festival, and a Community Awards Ceremony. The MUF itself spans the two full days of programming. Within it, eight to ten global cities organise individual pavilions pertaining to their own, local design strategies, policies, projects, and challenges. The forum also presents opportunities for more explicit cross-cultural and multi-sectoral collaboration in forum-wide sessions.

MUF Festival begins two days prior to the forum with the objective of engaging the local public and MUF attendees in interactive city planning initiatives. Participants immerse themselves in digital planning tools, take part in data collection and mapping exercises, test out new cycling gear, and tour Moscow neighbourhoods. With inclusivity as one of its main objectives, MUF Festival aims to introduce tools and opportunities that enable people of all ages and cultural backgrounds to actively shape the future of their communities. The forum concludes with the Community Awards Ceremony, which honours some of the best urban projects and practices from around the world over the previous year. Currently, there are 8 sectors: Entertainment and Leisure, Education and Science, Sport and Fitness, Urban Tech, Public Good, Urban Media, Art and Culture, and Urban Design.

With inclusivity as one of its main objectives, MUF Festival aims to introduce tools and opportunities that enable people of all ages and cultural backgrounds to actively shape the future of their communities.

Each year, an array of internationally-recognized panellists develops a theme for the MUF. Past years focused on urban agglomerations, sustainable periphery development, shaping of post-industrial cities, drivers of development, megapolis, amongst others. Previous panellists have included Enrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogota, Colombia (one of the first cities to introduce Bus Rapid Transit into its transit infrastructural framework), Vicante Guallarte, Chief Architect of Barcelona (2011-2015), and Yasushi Aoyama, former governor of Tokyo.  

In light of the upcoming FIFA World Cup, which will take place in a number of Russian cities in the summer of 2018, this year’s MUF aims to address looming challenges of new infrastructural developments. The theme will be “Sports Megaprojects as a Trigger for Urban Renewal.” Discussion will partly focus on how to best integrate Russia’s newly-added infrastructure sustainably within the country’s major urban frameworks. Local and international experts will address project scaling, lessons learnt from previous major sporting events, and visions for the future of urban agglomerations.

Have a project, research paper, or idea for MUF 2018? Get in touch with the author at yulia.conley@gtc.ox.ac.uk.


Yulia Lisovskaya is Vice President and Russia/Eastern Europe Coordinator for the Oxford Urbanists and an MSc student in Environmental Change and Management at the University of Oxford, where her current academic and professional interests lie in environmental hazard mitigation and sustainability education. Previously, she worked for the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), Chicago Transit Authority, and Centre for Neighborhood Technology. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Applied Economics and Urban Planning.