On 26 November, the 2020 ICLEI East Asia RexCom Meeting took place virtually, hosted by the East Asia Secretariat with a live opening remark by Gino Van Begin, Secretary General of ICLEI.
2020 has been a year of adaptation, as people around the world are all facing the same double challenges of climate change and COVID-19. It was no exception for ICLEI members and offices in East Asia: it was the first time to hold the annual governance meeting online with the newly elected RexCom Members of 2021-2024. The Secretariat hence aimed to bring together the cities to catalyze actions to help the Region to maintain climate ambition along the recovery and was pleased to have learned the proactive actions taken by RexCom Members’ cities and ICLEI Offices despite the global pandemic.
First, the long Members of ICLEI have been demonstrating their exemplary roles in their respective countries. Kyoto is continuously putting efforts to realize the city’s zero-emission goal by 2050, promoting campaigns such as the 1.5’c Lifestyles prepared by ICLEI-IGES and actively engaging with citizens and various sectors to revise the global warming countermeasures ordinance and its action plan. As for Seoul, while active in combating air pollution, it announced the city’s own Green New Deal in July to respond to climate change and COVID-19 introducing 2050 GHG reduction strategies and sustainable job creations. Suwon, too, has been leading the climate dialogue and especially on eco-mobility in South Korea, and actively called for national carbon neutrality by 2050.
Left to right: Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa of Kyoto; Director General Min Kwon, Proxy of Acting Mayor Jeong Hyup Seo of Seoul;
Vice Mayor Moo Young Jo, Proxy of Mayor Tae-Young Yeom of Seoul / Photo: ICLEI East Asia
On the other hand, new RexCom Members have also shown their great commitment through action. Changchun, the first-ever Chinese local government which has become a RexCom Member, shared its commitment to leading eco-civilization and fulfilling its portfolio role to be the pioneer of circular cities in China — by joining ICLEI’s Green Circular Cities Coalition as a first step. New Taipei, also, has shared its great capacity by demonstrating how it has been one of the first cities in the world to complete the Voluntary Local Review (VLR) and by emphasizing its ambition to be coal-free by 2023.
Left to right: Vice Mayor Lina Jia of Changchun (center); Deputy Mayor Cheng-Ta Hsieh of New Taipei / Photo: ICLEI East Asia
The Members’ development toward sustainable cities was then followed by the Advisory Members and ICLEI offices in the region updating their achievements in 2020 and their plans for the next year. Despite the pandemic, all offices and Members have put a great effort to move their platform online and find ways to engage and strengthen local governments’ presence and responsibilities at both local and international levels such as supporting local governments to declare a climate emergency and actively leading the Race to Zero campaign reporting to the UNFCCC.
Last but not least, the ICLEI East Asia Secretariat updated its increased responsibilities in the next year’s Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) in Kunming, and its ambition to bring cities in the region to exhibit their resilient and nature-based development pathways to sustainable development. Along with this international negotiation, ICLEI East Asia also promised its strong support to the upscaled East Asia Clean Air Cities Network with Seoul focusing on attracting more members and resources in the coming years in order to combat the regional air pollution through local governments’ collective actions.
In his closing remark, Konrad Zimmerman, founding director of ICLEI East Asia stressed that, as East Asian local governments host mega-scale industries and populations like no other regions, they have the key to changing the global climate course. Per this remark, ICLEI and the RexCom Members have mutually acknowledged and shared the weight of responsibilities, and are looking forward to the upcoming activities, sincerely hoping that we could make a step closer to a sustainable future in 2021.
2020 ICLEI East Asia RexCom Meeting was hosted successfully online / Photo: ICLEI East Asia