South Korea: The Seoul Declaration for Sustainable Cities

Over 100 Mayors and elected leaders adopted the “Seoul Declaration” on the stage of ICLEI’s World Congress 2015, which sets out how to make cities sustainable. The Seoul Declaration is one of the major outcomes of the ICLEI World Congress 2015 – and links to ICLEI’s Strategic Plan 2015-2021.

ICLEI’s new President and Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon remarked, “The Seoul Declaration is a major commitment by a huge number of global sustainability leaders to inspire these kinds of initiatives to every city and region, and to work together for a sustainable future.”

According to Professor Jørgen Randers, a member of the distinguished Club of Rome and BI Norwegian Business School, “the global population shall peak at eight billion in 2040, the global economy will grow slowly, and humanity will face a growing set of challenges, including resource scarcity, pollution, and climate change.” Randers explained how resistance to structural change must be overcome with intelligent policies that give voters advantages in the short term while solving longer-term climate problems.

ICLEI Secretary General Gino Van Begin explained: “This is why our Members are setting out a vision for sustainable cities: We all recognize that our world is facing a crisis. Our current societies are exploiting the planet in an unsustainable fashion and we are beginning to face the consequences of climate change. As the global population increases, the need for sustainability will become ever greater.”

The Seoul Declaration sets a clear path to an innovative and transformative urban development by creating cities that are sustainable, biodiverse, low-carbon, resilient, productive and resource-efficient, smart, ecomobile, and healthy and happy.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commended Mayor Park for his leadership on urban sustainability. He also expressed his belief that cities would drive a global transformation and encouraged them to strengthen their networks.

From the stage, some 20 Mayors spoke in support of the Seoul Declaration. ICLEI Vice President and Durban Mayor James Nxumalo welcomed the commitment of the Seoul Declaration to new cooperation initiatives between cities and small island states on adaptation and resilience. Mayor Parks Tau of Johannesburg praised the Declaration’s emphasis on EcoMobility and reminded participants that his city will host the second EcoMobility World Festival in October 2015, during which the Central Business District of the city will be closed off to cars.

Mayor Kinlay Dorjee of Thimphu, Bhutan, described how Bhutan implements its Gross National Happiness index, introducing meditation and the study of green initiatives in schools. Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Municipal President of Seberang Perai, Malaysia, reiterated her hope for an Urban SDG and invited all cities to scale up best practices to ensure a transformation to global sustainability.

Deputy Mayor Andrea Reimer of Vancouver’s City Council, Canada, discussed Vancouver’s plan to become the greenest city on earth by 2020. “People will embrace significant action when they see significant leadership and they have the tools to act,” she said.

Mayor Park concluded by mentioning the Seoul Action Plan, which will set out concrete plans for climate change mitigation. He expressed his belief that the Seoul Action Plan would allow cities to make significant progress before the COP21 in Paris in December 2015, putting pressure on national governments to reach a binding agreement.

To view the declaration, click here

Source: SouthEast Asia ICLEI

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