Don Iveson, Mayor of Edmonton, Canada, explains how hosting the ICLEI World Congress 2009 helped to showcase different projects the city was working on, as well as to propel new initiatives. Since that year, Edmonton city has been enhancing sustainable procurement, partnering with different organizations; introducing new technology to improve waste management; developing new programs on biodiversity and eco-mobility, and implementing overall strategies to reduce greenhouse emissions.
Santa Monica, USA
Pam O’Connor, Council member of the City Council of Santa Monica, USA, details the short-term action plan the city has undertaken to achieve reduction of emissions by the end of 2015. She defines it as a “real action oriented plan”. O’Connor emphasizes the engagement of young people to make a change. About the Seoul Declaration, she affirms that “cities working together under the umbrella of the Seoul Declaration we are making progress”.
Kinlay Dorjee, Mayor of Thimphu, Bhutan, explains what National Gross Happiness index is and why it is important for the country to take into account when calculating the GDP. The four pillars of the NGH are sustainable and social economic development, preservation of culture and tradition, respect for nature, and good governance. In order to increase happiness of citizens, all new policies and projects must prove positive effects on these four pillars. NGH and achieving happiness is now part of the curriculum at schools, Kinlay Dorjee explains.
Bo Frank, Mayor of Växjö, Sweden, the greenest city in Europe, highlights the importance of the commitment undertaken 10 years ago, to become a Fossil Fuel Free City. In this period, he says, Växjö has cut its emissions 50%. Frank also remarks that economy and ecology are “two sides of the same coin”, and that his city has proved that both can improve together. Public transport, organic waste and biogas production programs are also some other important initiatives for the city.
Andrea Arteaga, manager of EMAC (Municipal Sanitation Company of Cuenca), Cuenca, Ecuador, explains EMAC’s main project: recycling solid waste and then using it to generate energy. While this is an environmental initiative, it also has a social dimension. As Arteaga explains, the landfill in Pichacay is generating employment, particularly for families coming from vulnerable backgrounds.
Matale, Sri Lanka
Mohamed Hilmy, Mayor of Matale, Sri Lanka, talks about the project SUNYA-Towards zero waste in South Asia, implemented by ICLEI. According to him, to promote and develop this program, they have been teaching children at schools so that they become key agents. As Mayor of one of the cities that has embraced the Seoul Declaration, Hilmy affirms that this declaration “is going to be a successful story”, not only for his city and for the Asian region, but for the whole world.
Basque Government, Spain
Javier Agirre, General Manager of Ihobe, company that belongs to the Environment Department of the Basque Government, Spain, talks about this network of 200 municipalities that, since 2002, work together to achieve sustainability goals. Agirre mentions two specific tools Ihobe offers in order to help local governments to launch environmental policies: a line of grants, and an innovation program. Both of them have positive effects, he assures, as they generate revenues and create employment.
Antoine Faye, Principal Advisor of Urban Resilience, Dakar, Senegal, explains what it means for Dakar to be part of the 100 Resilient Cities program, pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation. Faye highlights the big opportunity that represents to be in a network that will be sharing solutions for common problems. In his words, “this project is important because it is going to permit us to look at the soft stress the city is facing”.
José Luis Romero Morales, Planning and Project Manager at the Development and Sustainability Ministry of the City Council of Puebla, Mexico, talks about the importance of having been awarded by WWF with one the “Earth Hour Capital” Awards 2015. He assures this award is an acknowledgement of all the environmental projects developed by the City Council, and a driver to continue working on this path. Puebla will be hosting Smart City Expo 2016, and the local government is working hard to develop different projects and to face different challenges.