Seoul Mayor Won-soon Park and ICLEI Secretary General Gino Van Begin

Seoul Mayor Won-soon Park and ICLEI Secretary General Gino Van Begin at the signing ceremony.

Seoul will host the ICLEI World Congress 2015 from 8 – 12 April 2015
. Gathering over 600 participants, the triennial membership summit sees mayors and local government representatives from all over the world meet and exchange practical sustainability solutions
.

ICLEI is the world's leading association of cities and local governments dedicated to sustainable development, including 12 mega-cities, 100 super-cities and urban regions, 450 large cities as well as 450 medium-sized cities and towns in 86 countries. It aims to promote local action for global sustainability and supports cities to become sustainable, resilient, resource-efficient, biodiverse, low-carbon; to build a smart infrastructure; and to develop an inclusive, green urban economy with the ultimate aim to achieve healthy and happy communities.

Coinciding with ICLEI’s 25th anniversary and the shaping of a post-2015 development agenda, the ICLEI World Congress offers an opportunity to galvanize the role of local governments in multi-level governance, sustainable urban development goals, climate and disaster risk reduction.



The last ICLEI summit was held in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in 2012, and saw the founding of new networks include:

  • PANDO (a network for sustainable communities researchers and practitioners);
  • FutureCityLeaders (for young elected municipal leaders interested in urban sustainability);
  • and the Urban Biosphere (URBIS) Initiative Partnership (a global network of researchers, policy-makers, planners and environmental practitioners working to create) more resilient urban regions). 

Announcing the news, the Mayor of Seoul, Won-soon Park, said: “I am confident that the congress will enable us to build closer partnerships within the global sustainability community, including with our neighboring countries and cities, and allow us to work together to advance sustainability”.



In a statement, ICLEI Secretary General Gino Van Begin added that: “Local governments have never before commanded such attention in international efforts to advance sustainability. The ICLEI World Congress 2015 will carry this momentum forward into the international negotiations and reaffirm that local governments are the strategic and indispensible actors in achieving global sustainability goals.”

There will be plenty of local exemplary activities of which delegates may have direct experience. Seoul was chosen partly because it was a winner of the 2013 World Green Building Council Government Leadership Award, for its One Less Nuclear Power Plant initiative, a three-year initiative that aims to reduce energy consumption in the city.

This sits alongside otherinitiatives such as ‘One Less Nuclear Power Plant’, ‘Eco-mileage’, ‘Sunlight City’, Cheonggye Stream Restoration, and its Resource Recycling Initiative.

It's also an active city reporting to the Carbon Cities Climate Registry, and committed to the Earth Hour City Challenge, It has an ambitious agenda on climate change.

The city is a long-term and active Member of ICLEI and hosts the ICLEI East Asia Secretariat.

Mayor Park is chair of the World Mayor's Council on Climate Change (WMCCC) and in that capacity serves as a member of the ICLEI Global Executive Committee. His Vice Mayor, Sang-bum Kim, is a member of ICLEI’s East Asia Regional Executive Committee.



Mayor Park has long provided an example of the innovative, ambitious and participatory approach needed to drive forward local action on sustainability.



By pledging to host the ICLEI World Congress 2015, he has further strengthened his commitment with ICLEI, offering an ideal setting for the watershed event in a milestone year for climate negotiations at the international level.



The ICLEI World Congress 2015 will serve as a bridging event, a show of strength for its numbers which now exceed 1000 members amidst the global political weight of a rising Asian megacity; Seoul offers a strategic gateway to improve cooperation among East Asian cities.

The event will be the first ICLEI World Congress in 20 years to take place in Asia, following Saitama, Japan in 1995.

MEanwhile, this April (7-11) will see ICLEI's Smart Urban Infrastructure intiative will be on display as art of 'the ICLEI Global Town Hall @ Metropolitan Solutions trade fair in Hannover, Germany. The Global Town Hall 2014 will cover themes such as climate change and adaptation, smart cities, ecomobility, sustainable purchasing, urban agriculture, green buildings, low-carbon development, and integrated solutions.

Cities planning to attend this year’s event include: Addis Ababa,  Amsterdam, Barcelona, Baguio, Berlin, Bristol, Chengdu, Copenhagen, Fortaleza, Moscow, Oslo, Quito, Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Rome, Rotterdam, Seoul, and Taipei, just to name a few. Some of their inspiring initiatives are featured in the local action stories below.