In partnership with UN-Habitat, the City of Suwon in the Republic of Korea and ICLEI launched the 2013 edition of the Ecomobility World Congress at a colorful ceremony attended by over two hundred and fifty international participants from over forty one countries.
The Mayor of Suwon and long-time environmental champion, Mr. Tae-Young Yeom declared that the bold experiment to transform a section of the city’s streets into pedestrian and bicycle-friendly public spaces would challenge the primacy of petrol-powered vehicles by providing alternative and safer means of urban mobility. Mr. Yeom called upon his city’s residents to prove to the world that citizen participation coupled with strong political-will could disentangle seemingly intractable challenges like mobility in urban areas.
The Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Dr. Joan Clos in a speech read on his behalf by the coordinator of UN-Habitat’s Basic Urban Services Branch, Mr. Andre Dzikus, stated that ecomobility should go hand in hand with creating jobs to alleviate the huge unemployment problem in developing and developed countries. Stating that urban mobility is one of the key aspects to achieve more sustainable, livable, efficient and healthy cities, Dr. Clos called on cities to integrate spatial and transport planning and offered UN-Habitat’s continued partnership to promote a new urban agenda for better and sustainable urban planning and design with optimal density and diversity so as to decrease the demand for mobility.
Konrad Otto-Zimmermann, the creative director of the Ecomobility World Festival stated that the event in a showcase neighborhood of Suwon would help to visualize the future with a demonstration of what a car-free, ecomobile future will look like. Simlar to the festival, of which UN-Habitat is a partner, UN-Habitat’s I’m a City Changer Campaign encourages a new social conduct on mobility by promoting green mobility for sustainable development and encouraging new “City Changers”.
The four-day congress that kicked-off on 1 September 2013 featured over seventy five presenters who engaged in lively discussions on the alternative solutions offered by ecomobility as well as the multiple benefits in the form of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, clean air, recreation for the community at large and making people healthier.
UN-Habitat’s Cities and Climate Change Initiative (CCCI) supported two finalists of a blogging and social media competition organized by the initiative to attend the congress and participate in a special session on the role of the youth in promoting ecomobility for future generations.