Friday, 23 March 2012

Keynote Speaker at Green City Conference in Taipei

I was asked to represent the European Commission as Director of the European Green Capital Secretariat (www.europeangreencapital.euas one of the two Keynote Speakers at an EcoCities Conference on March 19th / 20th in Taipei which is the capital of Taiwan. The conference was chaired by the Taiwan Government and organised by Professor Tse-Fong Tseng of Kaohsiung University.

As the Asian Tiger grows, all governments are looking more and more to environmental protection as the optimum means of ensuring sustainable urban living. Thus the focus on what they call EcoCities or Green Cities with low carbon objectives to meet the threat of climate change. The Taiwan government are seeking to learn what they can from the experience of the EU Commission initiative on the European Green Capital City project which I have been directing so I was happy to go. Another Keynote Speaker had been invited from Japan - Professor Hikaru Kobayashi who is responsible for Environmental and Information Studies at Keio University in Japan and formerly Chief Environmental Advisor to the Japanese Government.

It was a long but interesting trip via Amsterdam and Bangkok. I took Aer Lingus to Amsterdam and China Airlines brought me the rest of the journey and back. The 'skymap' was a reasonably straight line from Amsterdam to Bangkok roughly along southern Germany, the Carpathian Mountains then onto the Black Sea and across the Caspian Sea north of Iran.  Then across Afghanistan, south of its capital city Kabul, into Pakistan and onto Lahore in India where we veered south along the fertile Ganges Valley, south of Kathmandu and the Himalayas, to the city of Calcutta at the mouth of the Ganges. During the trip we travelled at speeds around 1000 km/hr at average heights of 10,000m or 10km above the earth's surface in a Boeing 747.

After Calcutta we then headed south east towards Rangoon crossing over the delta shaped Mouths of the Irrawaddy then crossing the Gulf of Martiban before heading further south to Bangkok in Thailand. There was the most extraordinary orange sunrise lighting the horizon to welcome us into Bangkok at 36 degree celsius in the early hours of the morning. It was purely an airport stopover but you could sense that the air in Bangkok was very humid.

The trip from Bangkok to Taipei took us over Cambodia and Da Nang in Vietnam and then north over Hong Kong towards Taiwan and into Taipei International Airport on the north of the island. This was my first visit to Taiwan.

Visiting the EcoCity of Tainan inTaiwan -
Professor Tse-Fong Tseng, National University of Kaohsiung Taiwan, 
Professor Hikaru Kobayashi, Keio University Japan, 
PJ Rudden Director of European Green Capital Secretariat, 
Dr Ching-Te Lai Mayor of Tianan and Dr Hwang-Jen Chang Director General 
of the Environmental Protection Bureau of Tainan City Government
The EcoCities Conference was organised by Professor Tse-Fong Tseng from the Institute of Urban Development and Planning at the National University of Kaohsiung. It was opened and chaired by the Vice Chairman of the Taiwan Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) Dr Wan-Hsiang Hwang. The CEPD is the central planning authority in Taiwan and reports to the Prime Minister.

I was grateful that he also hosted myself and the other Keynote Speaker Professor Hikaru Kobayashi former Director General of Environment Management in the Japanese Government to lunch. Also present at the lunch were the CEPD Director General Ms Kuo Fei-Yu, Commissioner of the Taipei City Government Dr Yuh-Chyum Ding, Monica Kuo Chair of Digital Research Centre and College of Environmental Planning and Design. I also met the Associate Professor of Land Economics at National Chengchi University Dr Chen-Yi Sun and Analyst of International Economy at Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research Ms Pei-Ju Yu at the Conference.

In his opening remarks Dr Hwang explained how Taiwan was looking to best practice in both Japanese and European experience of EcoCities on how to achieve a low carbon response to urban living. He stated that his Council were determined to create economic drivers to make more sustainable cities happen in Taiwan.

Addressing the EcoCities Conference in Taipei were Professor Hikaru 
Kobayashi Keio University JapanDr Wang-Hsiang Hwang Vice Chairman 
of the Taiwan Council for Economic Planning and Development and
PJ Rudden Director of RPS and Director of the EU Commission European Green 
Capital Award Secretariat
Professor Kobayashi in his remarks stated that Japanese policy on climate change was influenced by the need to support the increased seniority of Japan's citizens and also informed by the urgent need to regenerate the city region damaged by the 2011 Earthquake / Tsunami and nuclear disaster at Fukushima.

In my remarks on EcoCities I outlined the experience to date with the EU Commission European Green Capital Award (EGCA). The winners for 2010 to 2013 respectively were Stockholm, Hamburg, Vitoria-Gasteiz and Nantes. The winner for 2014 will be announced in June 2012 from a shortlist currently being formulated. The objective is to reward environmental performance, ambition and to create cities as role models of sustainable urban living. The mission of the award is ‘Green Cities – Fit for Life’. The award is based on 12 environmental criteria including climate change, public transport, biodiversity, eco-innovation and sustainable employment - all judged independently by a Technical Evaluation Panel of international experts. Then a final decision is taken based on the expert recommendations by a Jury representative of the EU Commission, the European Environment Agency, ICLEI – Local Government for Sustainability, the European Environmental Bureau (NGO), the Covenant of Mayors and the Committee of the Regions.

There were interesting questions on how to configure and encourage the organisational ecosystem to make such an award operate for cities of Taiwan and possibly elsewhere in Asia where there was no semi-federal grouping like the EU.

Presenting the Keynote Speakers with a framed Lion's Head as a symbol of
Tainan EcoCity were Left to Right: Dr Hwang-Jen Chang Director General of the Environmental Protection Bureau of Tainan City Governmen
t, Professor Hikaru Kobayashi Keio University Japan
PJ Rudden Director of European Green Capital Secretariat,
Dr Ching-Te Lai Mayor of Tianan
Professor Tse-Fong Tseng, National University of Kaohsiung Taiwan
After the Conference we travelled to Tainan, the designated Low Carbon City in Taiwan. There we were given a civic welcome by the Mayor of Tainan Dr Ching-Te Lai and his Director General Dr Hwang-Jen Chang. Dr Lai welcomed us and presented both Prof Kobayashi and myself with a framed ceramic Lion's Head as a symbol of the City. He was very gracious in his welcome which was covered by national and regional TV networks. We were also greeted by the Director of the Tainan City Government Tourism Bureau Chun-An Chen. We visited parts of the old and the new Tianan. It is a very fine city with a population of 1.7 million and is facing the challenge of low carbon with ambition, supported by the University of Kaohsiung which runs the Tainan Low-Carbon City Project Office.

Professor Hikaru Kobayashi, Keio University Japan,
PJ Rudden Director of European Green Capital Secretariat,
Dr Hwang-Jen Chang Director General of the 
Environmental Protection Bureau of Tainan City Government,
Professor Tse-Fong Tseng, National University of Kaohsiung Taiwan

On the following day I joined a National Workshop on EcoCities chaired by the Director General of the Council for Economic Planning and Development Ms Fei-Yu Kuo. This workshop attended by the most senior planning infrastructural and economic heads in Taiwan mapped out a new collaborative approach to the development of EcoCities in Taiwan based on a combination of European and Japanese experience.

Director General of the Taiwan Council for Economic Planning and Development Fei-Yu Kuo 
and PJ Rudden Director of the EU Commission European Green Capital Secretariat 
outside Council Headquarters
Taiwan has annual growth of some 4% in 2012 which is significantly lower than its nearest neighbour China whose annual growth has dropped to a very respectable 7.5% per annum. Taiwan is determined to further develop its links with Europe and with Japan in the years ahead and are going about it in a very strategic way.

1 comment:

  1. Keynote Speaker
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