Mayors (66 cities), deputy mayors (13 cities), and delegations (85 cities) from a total of 164 member cities have registered for the ICLEI World Congress 2015 (as of March 11).
The ICLEI World Congress 2015 will be held from April 8 to 12 at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) and Seoul Plaza. Since its foundation in 1990, the ICLEI, a network of local governments committed to building a sustainable future, has been holding the International World Congress every three years at its member cities, with the ninth World Congress being held in Seoul this year.
At this year’s World Congress in Seoul, over 2,000 people will gather to discuss sustainable development on a global level. It will be a significant meeting, as the results of the Congress will be proposed at the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) in December in an effort to achieve a universal and practical turning point in sustainable development.
Numerous world-renowned, advanced green cities have already confirmed their participation in the World Congress, including: Copenhagen, Denmark, selected as the European Green Capital 2014; Freiburg, Germany, a global role model for Green Cities; Bristol, UK, the best eco-city in the UK in 2008; Vaxjo, Sweden, the recipient of the “Sustainable Energy Award” from the European Commission and the Best Environmental Practice in Baltic Cities Award in 2007.
These advanced green cities have implemented a variety of environmental policies under the keyword “alternative energy” to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, as well as “green buildings,” “bicycle-friendly,” “recycling,” and “cooperation between citizens and the city assembly.” Korea, as well as other nations, should take note of some of these policies.
∗ 2015 ICLEI →
∗ Official Website → worldcongress2015.iclei.org
Vaxjo, Sweden, creating a green city through the construction of full-scale wooden buildings
Surrounded by forests and lakes, Vaxjo is a Swedish city with nearly 80,000 inhabitants. Known for its implementation of the most advanced environmental protection policies, Vaxjo is also a city that is visited often by delegations from various countries. Of Vaxjo’s total energy consumption, renewable energy (alternative energy) accounts for 50 percent, which is particularly significant considering the fact that the European Union set the goal of increasing the rate of renewable energy consumption to 20 percent by 2020. Moreover, carbon dioxide emissions per capita in Vaxjo decreased by 30 percent between 1993 and 2006, and the city aimed to reduce emissions up to 50 percent by 2010 and 70 percent by 2050. These efforts gained high acclaim from the European Commission, which awarded Vaxjo the Sustainable Energy Europe Award in 2007.
Vaxjo is currently in the process of building full-scale, wooden residential buildings (eight stories). For the next 10 to 15 years, the city plans to construct enough residential buildings for 1,200 households. The buildings will be completely made out of wood, including everything from the floors to the walls, ceilings, and elevators. Unlike concrete and steel, wood requires little production energy, which is particularly notable in terms of environmental protection, and it can also absorb carbon dioxide.
The citizens of Vaxjo voluntarily sort trash into 20 different types and dispose of it at the recycling center at the city hall, while food waste is dried and broken down by grinders once a week for use as fertilizer in gardens. In such ways, the city and its citizens are actively promoting alternative energy projects.
Freiburg, Germany’s Green Capital and role model for Green Cities around the World
Many cities have benchmarked Freiburg, Germany’s green city with a population of 220,000 situated in southwest Germany, as a global model for green cities. Focusing on sustainable environment, solar cells, and biotechnology development, Freiburg boasts a decisive competitive edge over other green cities as well as a high quality of life for its residents.
Freiburg began its transformation into a green city by taking a stance against nuclear energy. In the 1970s, all of the city’s residents opposed the plan for the construction of nuclear power plants in the area, giving rise to a number of private environmentalist groups that actively persuaded the city council to focus on the development of solar energy rather than nuclear power.
In 1986, the city council agreed to adopt solar energy as a new major energy source, and continues to work hard on developing solar energy further. Thanks to these efforts, Freiburg was ranked first place in the German Green City competition and was selected as the Green Capital of Germany in 1992. Intersolar, the most important exhibition series in the solar power industry in Europe, takes place in Freiburg every year, as well as a variety of exhibitions and symposiums. A number of international organizations related to solar energy are located in Freiburg as well. Solar facilities have been installed throughout the city, such as in the city hall, schools, and private and public buildings. In addition, Badenova-Stadion has become the world’s first energy-independent football stadium thanks to its use of solar energy gathered by the solar collector panels installed on the rooftop for heating and electricity.
Bristol, UK, the Best Eco-City in the UK in 2008
Bristol, with 400,000 residents in the central part of the city and a total of one million inhabitants including the outskirts of the city, has been a renowned harbor city throughout history. More recently, it has become a high-tech industrial city. As a result, numerous environmental issues, such as industrial waste, have arisen in the city. Yet, in 2008, Bristol topped the UK’s Sustainable Cities Index, which was only made possible through the success of the city council’s eco-friendly administration.
Bristol was particularly successful in the area of waste disposal. Waste is not buried in Bristol, and the city has a weekly food waste reuse and recycle system. Through the system, residents learned how much food they had been wasting up to that point, leading to a change in their food consumption patterns. These changes saw the amount of waste per person decrease by 18 percent between 2003 and 2007, which is over two times more than the decreases achieved by Bristol’s rival green cities in Europe: Hamburg and Stockholm.
Queen Square, a garden square in the center of Bristol, had once suffered from extreme traffic congestion. Starting in the 1990s, however, Queen Square was closed to through traffic. At the entrances to the square, steel poles have been installed to stop cars from entering, encouraging people to travel by bicycle or on foot in the central part of the city. For the convenience of its citizens, the city has installed bicycle racks and automated bike rental kiosks.
Copenhagen, Denmark, the European Green Capital 2014
With 1.15 million inhabitants, Denmark’s Copenhagen was selected by the European Commission as the European Green Capital 2014, surpassing 17 other European cities, including Bristol, UK, and Frankfurt, Germany.
Copenhagen was particularly successful in terms of “green innovation” and its “green traffic system.” Moreover, the jury commented that Copenhagen was a good model for eco-friendly cities, as the city government cooperates with businesses, universities, and civic groups to maintain their green competitiveness.
Since the 1970s, Copenhagen has promoted a “low-carbon city” project, leading it to become known as a successful model for green cities around the world. In 2007, the city also established the “2025 carbon neutral city” plan, intending to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025.