The East Asia headquarters of the ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives), the world’s largest environmental organization, opened its doors in Seoul with the leaders of more than twenty cities in fifteen countries in attendance.
The ICLEI was established in 1990 to promote international cooperation among local and metropolitan governments on environmental issues. Its official name has since been revised to “ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.” Seoul recently became its eighth regional office city.
The organization involves the participation of more than 1,220 cities and local governments and their associations in eighty-four countries. It has eight regional offices including those in South Asia (New Delhi) and Africa (Cape Town), and four national offices including those in Korea (Suwon) and the United States (Oakland).
The city of Seoul held the inaugural ceremony for the ICLEI East Asia headquarters in the Jaeneung Building located in Sogong-dong, Jung-gu on October 19. For three days from October 18 (Thu) to 20 (Sat), the government held a forum commemorating the opening of the office in the new City Hall along with other “ICLEI – Seoul East Asia Days” events.
At the ICLEI World Congress held in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in June 2012, Seoul and the ICLEI agreed to establish the East Asia headquarters in Seoul, and to hold a commemoration forum and the conferences of the WMCCC and the ICLEI global executive committee.
Most notably, Mayor Park was selected to take over as the next chairman of the WMCCC from the current incumbent, the mayor of Mexico City, at the June 17 WMCCC conference. Mayor Park officially took office, and presided over the meetings, at the Seoul conference held in October.
The Seoul conference, held under the title of “ICLEI-Seoul East Asia Days,” was attended by more than 300 people including Mayor Park, the leaders of twenty cities in fifteen foreign countries, local mayors and heads of local governments, officials of international organizations, experts, and representatives of civic groups. The opening of the ICLEI East Asia headquarters was timed to take place with the hosting of the international conference.
The ICLEI East Asia headquarters covers cities in six countries, namely, South Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan, Mongolia and North Korea. Along with the support of the headquarters, the Seoul Metropolitan Government is planning to expand the membership base, both in China, which has just one member city, and in Mongolia, which is yet to choose a member city, and to share some useful policy information with its member cities with the aim of establishing itself as a hub of international environmental networks.