The ICLEI World Congress 2015 recently took place from April 8-12 in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Entitled “Sustainable Solutions for an Urban Future," the conference gathered over 2,500 delegates from municipalities worldwide to share international knowledge concerning sustainable development activities and environmental issues.
Among the attendees were numerous Canadian municipalities that have represented leadership in urban sustainability in recent years, including the cities of Montreal, Edmonton and Vancouver.
Some highlights from the summit include:
Unveiling of ICLEIs' New Global Executive Committee
The ICLEI Global Executive Committee 2015-2018 was unveiled at the opening plenary of the congress, with Wonsoon Park, Mayor of Seoul, South Korea taking over the role as President. Park has long been considered a champion of urban sustainability, having aided the city of Seoul in becoming a global leader in energy reduction and sustainable development. As Mayor Park commented at the beginning of the plenary, "We have a responsibility to hand this green planet onto our children. A city’s problem is no longer the problem of one country or one city. These are global challenges that all cities must address, with Mayors taking the lead".
Canadian Cities Among Participating Localities to Adopt Seoul Declaration
Vancouver, Montreal and Edmonton were among the 249 participating localities to adopt the Seoul Declaration, a collaborative document that recognizes the current climate crisis and sets out how cities can develop in response. The declaration, guided by several overarching principles that focus on raising awareness about sustainable development and enhancing the vitality, health, peace, culture and rightful governance of the local community, is linked to ICLEI’s new Seoul Plan. Specifically, this adoption commits participating cities to strengthen and support future adaptation and mitigation efforts at the municipal level.
Launch of Global Lead Cities Network
The closing plenary saw the launch of the new Global Lead Cities Network, an initiative which aims to create a worldwide network of innovative cities that drive a global transition to sustainable energy production and consumption. Vancouver was among the 50 other local governments that have voted for the long-term goal of deriving 100 percent of the city's energy from renewable sources. Setting these kinds of ambitious targets will hopefully set a precedent for other cities on how to stimulate green growth while overcoming technical, legislative, economic and political challenges.
Montreal and Vancouver Announce Participation in the Compact of Mayors
Canada was represented once again as Vancouver and Montreal became two of the newest signatories to the Compact of Mayors, a cooperate effort amongst mayors worldwide to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, track progress, and prepare for the impacts of climate change. As Denis Coderre, Mayor of Montreal said in a post-summit interview, "Think global, act local. I strongly believe that actions have to come from cities. We are the frontline when it comes to climate change. By joining the Compact of Mayors, Montreal makes the commitment with other leading cities worldwide to right for cleaner air, a greener planet, a better sustainable future".
The ICLEI World Congress 2015 provided a strong platform upon which cities could share their ongoing efforts to address climate change issues and enhance urban sustainability. The closing plenary emphasized the importance of partnerships as local governments move forward in their attempts to create a greener, prosperous society for all citizens.