Wuhan, Milan, Guadalajara, Mezitli and New York win Guangzhou Award

The jury announced the five winners of the 2018 Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation after reviewing over 300 submissions from 213 cities

The Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation (the Guangzhou Award) is co-hosted by the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), the World Association of the Major Metropolises (Metropolis) and the City of Guangzhou.
The award ceremony on December 7 announces the five winners of the 2018 Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation. More than 700 guests and representatives from 105 cities and local governments in 39 countries attended the opening ceremony and Wen Guohui, mayor of Guangzhou, chaired the opening ceremony.
They winners of this year include Wuhan, China; Milan, Italy; Guadalajara, Mexico; Mezitli, Turkey; and New York City, United States.
As many as 313 submissions from 213 cities/local governments of 70 countries/regions were received for 2018 Guangzhou Award. However, only 15 cities/local governments get to present before the Jury how they implement the Global Goals. Prior to the award ceremony, the 15 shortlisted cities for this cycle also presented their initiatives to an international audience during the International Seminar on Learning from Urban Innovation on December 6. The Jury made their final decision on these five cities and initiatives:
China, Wuhan: The “Rebirth” of Urban Waste Dump – Ecological Treatment and Return of Plurality
Milan, Italy: Milan Food Policy: An Innovative Framework for Making Urban Food System More Sustainable and Inclusive
Guadalajara, Mexico: Citizen-Led Metropolitan Coordination of Guadalajara
Mezitli, Turkey: Mezitli Women Producers Market
New York City, United States: Global Vision | Urban Action: New York City’s Voluntary Local Review (VLR) of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Shows Local Progress for Global Action
Aside from the five winners, the Indonesian city of Surabaya claims the “Online Popular City”, voted on by the general public. Each winning city won $20,000. The other cities in contention for the award were eThekwini (Durban), South Africa; Kazan, Russia; Repentigny, Canada; Salvador, Brazil; Santa Ana, Costa Rica; Santa Fe, Argentina; Surabaya, Indonesia; Sydney, Australia; Utrecht, Netherlands, and Yiwu, China.

The winning cities

Wuhan has restored more than 50 hectares of land from a closed landfill in less than a year, improving the living environment for residents and solving pollution challenges. According to a news report in China Daily, the closed Jinkou landfill in Wuhan caused pollution, which natural degradation would have taken decades to remove, affecting not only the environment but also more than 100,000 residents in nearby areas. To restore this wasteland more efficiently, the city began an aerobic ecological restoration project. Not only does it alleviate risks of long-term safety issues from pollutants and eliminates the threat of methane explosions, this project also restores more than 50 hectares of land for city landscaping.
Wuhan’s $690 million restoration of the Jinkou landfill and adjacent Zhanggong Dyke improved air and water quality for 400,000 residents. Asia’s largest garbage dump once smoldered with trash fires and belched so much methane across Wuhan that nearby residents could not open their windows. Now, the reclaimed trash heap is a green oasis so verdant it has become a popular wedding venue; and the Chinese city of 11 million hosted an international garden expo
on the site.
“Wuhan’s project gives us all hope for the future,” said Celia Wade-Brown, former mayor of Wellington, New Zealand, who chaired the seven-member jury. “They’ve taken a toxic urban environment and turned it into a flagship park.”
Another winner was Milan, Italy for introducing Milan Food Policy: An Innovative Framework for Making Urban Food System More Sustainable and Inclusive. It is a tool to support city government promoted by the Municipality of Milan and the Fondazione Cariplo to make the city more sustainable starting from food-related issues. It covers many aspects. Some of these aspects are components of the food cycle, such as cultivation, distribution and consumption of food, the related waste and its treatment. Others directly or indirectly involve or are affected by the food chain, such as environmental factors and territorial production, cultures and ways of life, welfare, economy, research, infrastructure and others.
Guadalajara’s citizen-led metropolitan coordination brings citizens to the core of the decision-making process, recognizing their vital roles not only in the identification of main metropolitan challenges but also in the design of solutions, which is the first of its nature in the history of the city and Mexico.
Mezitli’s women producers market provides equal rights to economic resources for more than 6,000 vulnerable women who lack source of income and insurance, which contributes to greater gender equality and helps strengthen policies and legislation. New York City took the prize for Global Vision, Urban Action, an adapted sustainability plan that maps the city’s OneNYC Plan onto the goals and targets of the SDGs. In July, New York became the first city in the world to submit a report to the United Nations on its progress thus far toward the global goals.

Experts’ say

During the event, He Wei, Vice-Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, said in his speech that, in the face of such problems as unbalanced, inadequate and uncoordinated development, we need to achieve transformation and development through our reform and opening-up, promote joint development through mutual exchanges and cooperation, and facilitate the building of a community of human destiny through a mechanism based on extensive consultation, joint construction and shared benefits.
In her video remarks, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN-Habitat, said that UN-Habitat strongly advocates making cities safe, inclusive, resilient and sustainable and believed that the Global Mayors’ Forum would encourage in depth dialogue
among cities.
Ma Xingrui, Governor of Guangdong, said that Guangdong would participate more actively in the exchanges and cooperation of global urban governance innovation, and work together with the counterparts to discuss good governance practices, build cooperation platforms and share development achievements.
Song Jingwu, Vice President of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), said that the Global Mayors’ Forum is established with the purpose of further implementing the United Nations’ SDGs and the New Urban Agenda, and encouraging cities worldwide to participate in global governance and to contribute insights to a more fair, sound and balanced global governance mechanism.
Emilia Saiz, UCLG Secretary General, and Rudi Vervoort, Representative of the World Association of Major Metropolises (METROPOLIS), Minister President of Brussels Capital Region, Belgium, addressed the opening ceremony and expressed their hopes for cities around the world to have more mutual exchanges and cooperation and share experiences in urban governance.
The aim of the Guangzhou Award is to recognize innovation in improving social, economic and environmental sustainability in cities and regions and, in so doing, to advance the prosperity and quality of life of their citizens. Presented biennially, the award encourages innovation in public policy, projects, business models and practices. The Guangzhou Awards also emphasize how municipalities can adapt global agendas such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and New Urban Agenda for sustainable cities to the work of local government.
The Guangzhou Institute for Urban Innovation (“GIUI”) was established in 2012 under the framework of the Guangzhou Award. The Institute is conceived as an international network of experts and institutions dedicated to furthering urban innovation concepts, tools and methodologies. Its members include research and academic institutions, professional associations, community based organizations, industry leaders and individual experts.

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