On September 21, 2015, Mayor Park Won Soon, who is currently visiting Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, proposed the idea of a Northeast Asian “community of cities” at the 2nd Northeast Asia Mayors’ Forum, suggesting that Northeast Asian nations must go beyond citizen governance to engage in city governance.
The Northeast Asia Mayors’ Forum is a platform for mayors of Northeast Asian cities and officials from international organizations to come together and seek inter-city cooperation on issues such as the environment and urbanization. About 200 people, including the mayors of over 10 cities in China, Japan, and Russia, as well as officials from 20 international organizations, such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank, participated in the opening ceremony.
At the forum, Mayor Park said, “Northeast Asian cities are located in close geographical proximity to each other, within only two to three hours by air, and all of them share similar histories, cultures, and even DNA, as well as a number of commonalities that have the potential to create strong bonds among them.” He then proposed the creation of a community similar to those of the European Union (EU), North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), designed to jointly battle environmental issues and climate change and seek ways of bringing about peace, coexistence, and an economic community within East Asia.
“In order to respond to climate change, we need a new plan for urbanization,” asserted Mayor Park. He then suggested models of “New Urbanization,” encompassing cities that take action against climate change, cities that have achieved energy independence, and sustainable cities where humans and nature coexist in harmony.
Mayor Park explained that Seoul Metropolitan Government had also damaged the environment in the past due to its development-oriented policies. However, providing policy examples such as the “One Less Nuclear Power Plant” initiative, he elaborated on the environmental transformation of Seoul into a cleaner and safer city, thanks in large part to policy efforts and citizen participation. He emphasized that Seoul is an example of a city of “sustainable development,” where development and environmental preservation occur side-by-side.