As the damage from climate change grows increasingly apparent, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has praised a new centre in the Republic of Korea working to address the environmental impact of large cities.
“With this new Centre, Gangwon Province and UN-HABITAT (UN Human Settlements Programme) are joining forces in the cause of sustainable urban development,” Mr. Ban said in a video message during the official opening of the International Urban Training Centre in Gangwon Province. Pointing to the “increasingly visible” impacts of climate change, he said, “Your mission has never been more important.”
The centre which was inaugurated on 3 May 2007 in Hongcheon, Gangwon Province, by the Provincial Governor, Mr. Kim Jinsun aims to promote sustainable urbanisation, good governance and better environmental conservation in the towns and cities of Korea and the Asia-Pacific region.
Addressing the ,meeting, UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka said the centre was a remarkable milestone in the area of human settlements adding that it underscored the republic of Korea’s commitment to tackle urbanisation challenges.
“The Republic of Korea has a lot to teach the world about rapid urbanisation and how it went hand-in-hand here with the rapid economic growth of this great “tiger” economy. The Korean experience and knowledge will prove invaluable to students from across Asia-Pacific.
For UN-HABITAT sustainable urbanization starts with a vision of inclusive cities where everyone enjoys civil and human rights, decent shelter, water, electricity, sanitation, health and education services. I am convinced too that this new training centre is ideally placed to spread a new regional vision as well. And this is because over the past 10 years, intra-regional trade in Asia has become more significant than ever before, indicating the need to forge a common set of economic, social, environmental urban goals across the region,” Mrs. Tibaijuka added.
Governor Jinsun said the centre was yet another feather to the province’s cap in the are of tackling environmental issues. “Being the number one [province] in its clean natural environment, we have set our environmental indicators to the top and have complied with international standards when it comes to environmental issues, aiming to become the environmental hub in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.