2016 Low-carbon and Sustainable Development Capacity Program for Chinese Local Governments
Gathering 17 representatives from 10 Chinese cities in Seoul, the week-long capacity-building program on low-carbon and sustainable development organized by the ICLEI East Asia Secretariat, the Seoul Human Resources Development Center (SHRDC), and the Seoul Metropolitan Government was successfully concluded on 29 April in Seoul.
The Chinese delegation was made up of local government officials from 10 cities across China, including Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Guilin Lin’gui New District, Guiyang, Shanghai, Shenzhen Guangming New District, Suining, Tianjin Eco-city, and Zhuzhou. While these cities vary in physical and population size, geographical characteristics, and socio-economical makeup, they all share one common thing with Seoul – the challenges and opportunities caused by urbanization and climate change.
Consisting of lectures, discussions, field visits, and a seminar organized by ICLEI East Asia with partners on 26 April, the week-long training program offered participants the most updated information and knowledge on Seoul’s policies on low-carbon and sustainable development, which were presented and explained comprehensively by some of Korea’s most distinguished experts and government officials working in specific fields, including urban planning and regeneration, transport and ecomobility, environmental protection, ecological restoration, waste management, etc.
During the closing ceremony on 29 April, participants reflected that they felt particularly impressed by Seoul’s efficient transport system and the restoration of Cheonggyecheon, a 10.9km long stream flowing through the heart of the metropolis into Hangang which was once covered by transportation infrastructure. While many Chinese cities are indeed carrying out policies that aim at cutting emissions and promoting a green lifestyle, participants also said that it is often very difficult to get citizens actively involved. They found the environmental awareness among Seoul citizens in contributing to cleaning the environment, such as garbage sorting, saving energy at homes, and engaging in public dialogues on city projects, particularly encouraging.
Participants learned about Seoul’s Cheonggyecheon stream restoration project / Photo: SHRDC
The lectures gave an overview of Seoul’s policies on low-carbon and sustainable development, while the field visits to various sites, such as the Hydrogen station at the Energy Dream Center, the Mapo resource recycling facility, the World Cup Haneul Park, Seoul City Hall, and TOPIS, allowing the participants to learn about the technical aspect of urban development.
Site visit to the World Cup Haneul Park, where Seoul’s largest landfill was once located / Photo: SHRDC
The keen interest shown by all participating Chinese local government officials throughout the week-long training has greatly enriched the program. Through sharing the best practices of their home cities, as well as the challenges that they face, Korean local government officials and urban experts were also able to learn from the Chinese experience.
Realizing the impacts of climate change are not confined to any single city, and therefore could not be solved single-handedly, officials and experts from both sides express great interest in furthering cooperation between cities in China and Korea in the future. Through regional and city-to-city cooperation, they hope that experiences from other cities could provide inspiration for innovation, as well as drive positive peer competition to strive for more ambitious goals.
Opening ceremony of the capacity-building program
From right: Joon Ho Ahn, President of SHRDC; Gwonsig Won; Director of SHRDC and Shu Zhu, Regional Director of ICLEI East Asia at the opening ceremony / Photo: SHRDC