Vice-Mayors Cheng and Reker talk about Sustainable Development in Beijing

Vice-Mayors Cheng and Reker talk about Sustainable Development in Beijing

Post ID: 35061 | POSTED ON: Jun 14, 2012

BEIJING — UrbanTec China Conference at CIFTIS 2012 was recently held in Beijing – the epicenter of China's political scene. This yearly event was organized as part of the annual China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) and serves as a platform for education, information, exchange and communication. This year's convention sought to introduce the concept of smart cities and its related technologies to China via a series of high-profile conferences, showcase of solutions, a variety of business networking functions and dedicated workshops.

The commencement of this year's convention could not have been more timely and appropriate for China's alarming expansion as a growing global superpower. After her Cultural Revolution in the 1970s, the Chinese government relaxed rules regarding population mobility, allowing more opportunities for the Chinese to travel, work and live almost anywhere within the country. Unsurprisingly, this catalyzed China's urbanization and consequentially placed massive stress on her housing, jobs and transportation. The United Nations predicts that the country’s urbanization rate will reach nearly 80 percent by 2050.

Under immense global scrutiny and pressure, the central government began rethinking their developmental strategies, particularly on the model of sustainable development. The crux of sustainable development is the preservation of the environment to ensure that it will be able to meet the needs of the current and future Chinese generation. With plans to integrate this belief into their urban planning structure, China began scouting for modernized cities that embraced these ideals in hopes to emulate their success.  Cologne, Germany, a city that is twinned with Beijing for 25 years, became a point of inspiration and thus, the UrbanTec China 2012 became an adaptation of a similar show held in Cologne, with minor adjustments to fit the oriental climate.

The Vice Mayors of Beijing and Cologne, Cheng Hong and Henriette Reker respectively, graced the event as Guests of Honor. Both Mayors delivered speeches at the opening of the conference and acknowledged the importance of maintaining healthy diplomatic ties with one another. Besides celebrating their exchange of valuable knowledge about urban technology and sustainable development, both cities are also actively trying to promote each other’s culture in their own cities. For example, Cologne will be hosting her “China Year” celebration to commemorate her close relationship with Beijing.

“During the Chinese Year of the Dragon, the dragon will also dance in Cologne. This year, the city of Cologne and the city of Beijing are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their twinning. With the establishment of the Cologne-Beijing twin cities relationship on 14th September 1987, the city of Cologne began opening itself to Asia. Starting with the initial business contacts and the interest in getting to know what at that time was still quite foreign, continual dialogue has fostered stronger bonds despite the cultural differences and geographical distance that separate the two countries,” said Reker during her opening speech.

Cheng also shared her opinions about the current urban developmental trends in China in comparison to Cologne's.

“China is trying her very best to catch up with the rest of the world.

Right now, major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen have already proven themselves to be able to adapt to the changing needs of urban development. However, we look up to cities such as Cologne, where sustainability is weaved into the core of its city planning. I hope that through this valuable experience, we will be able to learn and absorb ideas from other smart cities, and at the very same time, showcase to the world what China has accomplished in the past few decades.”

The two vice-mayors had very friendly interactions during the meet up and many saw their relationship as representation of the harmonious alliance shared between the two sister cities.

During the two-day conference, dozens of speakers from relevant fields shared their opinions and insights on sustainable urban planning. The discussion was centered on ways to develop resource efficient, environmentally friendly and socially harmonious cities in China. Mr. Ho Tong Yen, the Chief Executive Officer of the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City, partook in the conference by offering his views on new and innovative city planning.

"The Tianjin Eco-city serves as a model for sustainable development for other cities in China. The Eco-city is built in an unsuitable and harsh environment that used to be one-third non-arable land, one-third salt farms and one-third polluted water. The concept is simple – If the eco-city can be built and sustained in such harsh environments with limited natural resources, then such a model can be replicated in other places as well.

Also, recycle, reduce and reuse should be the main focus of new eco-cities.”

While many tend to look to the West for models of sustainable development and new technologies, people often neglect the success of many Asian countries. There is much to learn from them, especially from countries such as Singapore, a city-state that many regard as the cleanest and most sustainable country in the world. Previous collaborations between the China and Singapore, such as the renowned Suzhou Industrial Park, have laid strong foundation for future projects.

When asked, the organizers promised that the event will be even bigger next year, with green mobility forming the core of the discussion. The conference will also expand further into more specific topics, such as ways to improve the communication systems in smart cities. Efforts will also be made to attract the public to attend the convention to increase general awareness and to educate.

This year’s UrbanTec China had an attendance of close to 12,000 visitors from all over the world.


Photo : Vice-Mayor of Beijing, Cheng Hong.(credit : UrbanTech China )

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