Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon embarked on a six-day visit to Spain on June 22, taking him to Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao, Seoul City said. Oh was on a diplomatic mission to the Spanish cities to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Korea-Spanish diplomatic ties. He was also honored with a UN Public Service Award.
The Seoul mayor is the first individual to receive the UN Public Service Award for two consecutive years. Oh’s first visit was to Barcelona on June 23 at the formal invitation of the UN.
He was commended by the UN Public Service Awards in two policy-related categories, raising global awareness of Seoul’s outstanding administrative standards, Seoul City said.
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) selects the most outstanding policy cases from all over the world, which comprise the UN Public Service Awards. The recognition is considered one of the most authoritative in the field of public administration, allowing for the cases to serve as benchmarks for developing countries.
Seoul’s policies were also recognized by the UN, especially for its “Women’s Happiness Project” and for its “Hope Plus Account.” The Women’s Happiness Project concerns a new concept of a women-friendly policy that called for Seoul City to reflect the female viewpoint and side in its policies. The Hope Plus Account represents a newly implemented Seoul-style welfare policy that calls for Seoul City to provide support to low-income households that would help them generate assets.
This year’s achievements put Seoul City in the overwhelming position of being a recipient of the UN Public Service Awards for three straight years. Of particular note is that Korea’s capital was picked two years in a row in the areas of transparency, responsibility and counteraction for public services. Seoul City said it is the world’s first city to receive the two UN awards for two consecutive years.
Mayor Oh said he plans to benchmark the “underground passage” of Madrid, the “culture and design policies” of Barcelona, and the “city revival” of Bilbao.
Such an agenda prompted Oh to explore the city revival project of Barcelona and visit some of its exemplary environment-friendly buildings so some of the ideas could be applied to Seoul buildings.
During a meeting with Barcelona Mayor Jordi Hereu, Oh and Hereu agreed to expand ties and boost exchange of information in various areas, including e-government, design, culture and art.
“Barcelona is a great example where the tradition and the modern coexist so wonderfully, making the experience richer for visitors,” Mayor Oh said. “And environmental-friendly structures and parks, pedestrian streets, and the major transportation system all reflect an advanced public design case model of a contemporary city.”
In Madrid, Oh sought to strengthen cooperation in the areas of culture tourism and transportation, while benchmarking some of the Spanish city’s road infrastructure. In Bilbao, the Seoul mayor received a briefing on the city’s design policies, while he also listened to the various strategies for preserving history and waterscape.