At the opening ceremony of the 2015 ICLEI World Congress
Venue: Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)
Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa of Tshwane, South Africa, Mayor George Ferguson of Bristol, the United Kingdom, and other mayors and vice mayors of other ICLEI member cities, Secretary General Joseph Roig of the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), Secretary General Yvo de Boer of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), President Yolanda Kakabadse of the World Wild Life Fund (WWF), Deputy Director Ibrahim Thiaw of the UN Environmental Program (UNEP), President Zhang Xinsheng of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), and other representatives of international organizations, Secretary General Gino Van Begin of the ICLEI, President David Cadman of the ICLEI, Chairman Park Nea-hak of the Seoul Metropolitan Council, Vice Minister Jeong Yeon-man of the Korean Ministry of Environment, members of the Green Seoul Citizen Committee, the Citizens’ Committee for One Less Nuclear Power Plant Campaign and Korean Council of Environmental, and Seoul Citizens,
I hope you are all well. Welcome to Seoul, and thank you for attending the ICLEI World Congress 2015. It is my great pleasure for me to meet such world-renowned figures here in Seoul.
I sincerely hope that this will be a meaningful event for discussion about the responsibilities of cities and their desired direction for the future.
This meeting held in Seoul to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the ICLEI is a very significant event, in which representatives of 200-plus cities are present, under the slogan of Sustainable Solutions for an Urban Future.
You will all agree that climate change is the most serious factor threatening the sustainable future of our cities. According to the 5th IPCC report, the rise in the earth temperature must be kept at a level not higher than 2 ℃ in order not to bring about a catastrophe, and the world must work together to reduce the 2010 levels of CO2 by 50% to 70% by 2015.
Abnormal weather conditions such as heavy localized rains, scorching heat, cold waves, typhoons, and the like are frequently observed all over the world. Rising temperatures are causing icebergs in the Arctic and Antarctic to melt, resulting in a rising sea level. Low-lying areas and islands are inundated. The habitats of polar bears are disappearing. Indeed, many problems associated with climate change are threatening the very existence of humankind.
More than 80% of greenhouse gases that cause climate change are emitted from cities. In light of this fact, cities should lead others in the effort to reduce the risk factors caused by climate change and strengthen nature’s recuperative power. It is necessary now more than ever to use our concerted efforts in order to come up with ways to cope with climate change. Cities need to cooperate with each other based on the recognition that we are all in the same boat. Problems like climate change, environmental disasters, and collapse of regional communities cannot be settled by individual cities or countries alone. We need to work together to find solutions by sharing knowledge, experience, and policies.
Representatives of international environmental bodies like UNFCCC, UNEP, UN-Habitat, WWF, GGGI, IUCN, and others are here today. We hope that the other international bodies that are not present also provide much needed support to what we are doing here today, so that concerted efforts can be made toward our shared goal.
This meeting will have a special significance, as it will serve as a channel for the launch of the New Climate System, which will start in 2020. At this world congress in Seoul, local governments of the world will make a new resolve to move towards sustainable development, develop tools to cope with climate change, and will deliver our developments to the UNFCCC COP to be held in Paris in December of this year. I expect that the UN will contribute greatly to a positive shift in policies.
At this meeting held in Seoul, we will discuss what we need for sustainable development and how to cope with climate change, and we will share exemplary cases of cities at seven plenary sessions, eight sub-plenary sessions, and 28 thematic sessions as well as Urban Nature sessions and the Researchers’ Symposium.
We in Seoul, with a population of ten million, could not be free from environmental pollution during our period of rapid economic growth. However, we have become a world-class city in matters related to climate and environment through continued efforts, and we now play host to the ICLEI World Congress. At this event, we at the SMG will share what we have done together with the people of Seoul to create a healthy and pleasant living environment, and we will contribute to sustainable development with all those present.
My new term as Seoul Mayor, which began in June of last year, adopted the slogan “Seoul, Together with You.” I think that we can overcome any problem or difficulty with concerted efforts if we work together.
Under the energy saving campaign (Let’s Reduce the Number of Nuclear Power Plants), we were able to save energy amounting to 2 million TOE, equal to the power produced by one nuclear power plant, six months ahead of schedule. Now, we are encouraging people to take part in the effort for saving and producing energy, using it more efficiently under the target of enhancing the rate of energy self-reliance to 20% by 2020.
The air quality of Seoul, which has a direct impact on people’s health, is also being improved rapidly. We are striving to make Seoul a clean and clear city by adopting a policy for distribution of environmentally friendly vehicles and boilers.
Seoul offers things that visitors to the city must see and experience. One of them is the Marketplace for Sharing Hope held in Gwanghwamun, in downtown Seoul. People sell their second-hand goods there and donate the proceeds to charity organizations. It is an example of the SMG-launched campaign for reusing goods and for resource recycling.
I will introduce efforts such as those efforts made jointly by the SMG and citizens at Seoul on Stage, which is scheduled for the morning of April 10. You will be able to see how our efforts are made at Mobile Workshop, scheduled for the afternoon of that day.
I expect that this five-day event will be a valuable time for discussions about how to cope with climate change, with cities and local governments as key actors to putting plans into action.
Conclusions made at this World Congress will be passed on to the relevant international organizations, including the UN, to have them reflected in their operation. I sincerely hope that our efforts may bear good fruit and all those in member cities may share its benefit. Thank you.