A booming economy is not the only characteristic of a truly modern city, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin told RT, adding that people’s needs, quality of life, and social equality play a central role in modern urban development.

Any future urban development strategy should be “human-centered,” the mayor said, speaking to RT at this year’s Moscow Urban Forum – an event attended by hundreds of city officials, heads of property development companies, urban specialists, architects, and scientists from more than 70 countries.

“The life of the big modern cities is based on human capital and people prefer to move to the places where they feel comfortable,” Sobyanin explained. “This forum is a broad discussion about the quality of life, about the ways of making city life human-centered, focused on its citizens.”

The mayor believes that such an approach is also conducive to economic development as, after all, money follows people. “The more attractive the city is for the people, the more appealing it is for the business. The more interesting the city is, the more investors are prone to pour money into its development.”

The two-day forum, which is being held in the Russian capital for the eighth time, has remained largely unaffected by foreign pressure and sanctions imposed by the US and its allies against Russia, Sobyanin believes. “There is no politics here,” he said.

“Specialists are not concerned about any sanctions, they go about their own business,” the mayor said, adding that Moscow has a unique appeal for the urban developers as “one can hardly find such a dynamic [development] anywhere else.”

A sizeable part of this year’s forum is centered around the idea of a healthy city, which does not just mean hospitals and extensive medical infrastructure, according to Sobyanin, who said that engaging social life and good ecology are no less important. “We have to deal with the problems of stress and loneliness,” he said, explaining that a truly healthy urban environment should be inclusive and help the people feel needed.

The forum, which has been held since 2011, has already had a profound influence on the city’s development. This year’s event was held at Zaryadye Park located just outside the Kremlin, which was designed by one of the winners of a prestigious design contest – the Moscow Urban Forum Community Award – held during one of the previous forums.

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