ENDING poverty, creating jobs and ensuring high-quality education were named as the top priorities for Edinburgh’s vision for 2050 – by teenagers who will be around 50 by then.
Residents, business and organisations throughout the city are being asked to share their visions of what the Capital should look like by the mid-point of the century.
Chairing the launch of the 2050 Edinburgh City Vision, broadcaster Allan Little joked that most people in the room would be more concerned about good quality care homes.
But he introduced Portobello High School pupils Pippa Watson and Alexander Fraser, who presented their thoughts around the three key questions of the campaign – What’s great about Edinburgh? What could be better? What should Edinburgh be like in 2050?
They praised the city for being multicultural and inclusive and for its culture and festivals, but highlighted student bus fares, maintenance of roads and pavements and poor election turnouts as things which could be improved.
Moving onto their vision, Pippa said: “The first thing we want to see in 2050 is a poverty-free Edinburgh. The current figures estimate that about 22 per cent of Edinburgh is on an income below poverty threshold. For Edinburgh to continue to develop and thrive, we need investment in the worst-off communities.”
Alexander said: “Another of our visions for 2050 which will help this fight against poverty is more job opportunities.
“This means creating a climate that encourages new industry to choose to base itself in Edinburgh, it means going to individuals and providing them with support to set up businesses, and it means helping people to find jobs which they are genuinely passionate about because they will be more productive in those jobs.” Pippa concluded: “Our final vision for Edinburgh in 2050 is to have a high quality of education. We are very lucky at Portobello High to be a few weeks away from moving into a state-of-the art building, a vast improvement on our eight-storey tower block. Unfortunately this is not the case for every child in every school. There are a lot of schools which could do with rebuilding or modernisation.” The theme was echoed by Mel Young, founder of the Homeless World Cup and a keynote speaker at the launch, who said the big challenge for any city was inequality.
He said: “This is a huge opportunity, this 2050 vision. In any city in the world, you get rich areas and poor areas almost cheek by jowl. We need to sort that out – that’s not sustainable and it’s getting worse.
“The vision for Edinburgh in 2050 should be that we don’t have that any more – and the second bit of the vision is that we are showing the rest of the world how to do it.” Graham Hill, of forecasting firm Arcadis, told the launch that although Edinburgh ranked 13th out of 100 cities in the world for “sustainability” in an index drawn up by his company and was sixth for profitability, the Capital came behind other UK cities on its “people” score – which looked at education, crime, equality and affordability – and on the environment.
He said: “We have a paradox – we have a highly performing economy and a profitable city but our ‘people’ performance is significantly lower.”
Brian Lang, chair of Edinburgh World Heritage, spoke about the challenge of combining economic development with sustaining Edinburgh’s uniqueness. “We need to accept within the heritage lobby that heritage is for people in Wester Hailes as well as people who live in the West End – and we need to bridge that gap.”
A draft vision is due to be drawn up by Christmas and then refined before next summer. People are invited to contribute through the Edinburgh 2050 webpage http://edinburgh.org/2050-edinburgh-city-vision/.