ECOCITY ALLIANCE OF SCIENCE TOWNS (January 2009)

This proposal was made to the cities of Palo Alto, Tsukuba and Daejeon in 2009 and we added Shenzhen in 2010. Although we were able to arrange three meetings between representatives of Palo Alto, Tsukuba and Shenzhen in 2010, ultimately the proposal was not followed up on. I do see the discussion, however, as historically significant and I look forward to a day when we can begin the conversation again.

 

 

ECOCITY ALLIANCE OF SCIENCE TOWNS

 

PALO ALTO (UNITED STATES), TSUKUBA (JAPAN) & DAEJEON (KOREA)

 

January, 2009

 

THE CONCEPT

There is a tremendous demand today for an ecologically sustainable urban environment that reduces radically waste, minimizes energy usage, has a positive impact on the world’s climate, and improves the health of citizens and the livability of urban spaces. In order to achieve such a transformation in cities across the country, however, we must first establish several model ecocities quickly which are sensitive to the needs of the particular country and function efficiently with the support of citizens. Those model ecocities will be the inspiration for other efforts within the country to create next-generation ecocities that handle in the most modern and most environmentally nonintrusive manner garbage disposal, water management, parks, wild spaces, alternative energy, insulation, transportation etc.

The best place for a cutting edge ecocity is in a city of relatively small dimensions because it can be transformed more rapidly than larger urban communities. Moreover, that city should be home to a major technology cluster in which access to the most advanced research in all fields relevant to an ecocity are readily available. Finally, because the threat of climate change is global, the effort to develop a model ecocity at the local level using all available technologies from the research cluster should be part of a global effort. Comparing notes, exchanging strategies, even sharing the costs of developing a cutting-edge ecocity between several cities can have great benefits and the international component will draw greater attention to the effort itself domestically and globally.

 

THE PARTICIPANTS

 

The three cities that would be at the center of this Ecocity Alliance from the start will be Palo Alto, home to Stanford University and at the center of Silicon Valley, Daejeon, home of KAIST, Korea’s leading technical university and multiple research institutes and Tsukuba (Japan), home of Tsukuba University, RIKEN, AIST and other scientific research institutes. Each of these cities is close to a larger metro city (San Francisco, Tokyo and Seoul, respectively) and each has outstanding faculty and research facilities related to all fields required to establish a next-generation ecocity.

 

THE SIGNIFICANCE of the Ecocity Alliance

 

 

Not only can the three cities share their strategies, their technical expertise and their ideas, the international exchanges between experts, parents and school children engendered by this effort will be a source of excitement and stimulation. Moreover, these exchanges will allow citizens to fully grasp the global nature of the environmental crisis. High school students will have the opportunity travel to the other “sister ecocities” to conduct studies (or perhaps do joint studies with their peers in the other countries via the Internet). Costs for purchasing materials, or hiring consultants, can be split between the three cities.

 

As each city becomes a model ecocity for its own country, the benefits to the research institutes will only increase, and the livability of the cities will make them more attractive to faculty.

 

Concrete Steps:

Short term:
Establish closer working relations among Asian countries on environmental and energy issues. Participants will effectively identify possible areas for collaboration and learn from other cities.
Medium term:
Establish benchmarks for ecocities and initiate formal sister ecocity connections; establish a system for objectively evaluating achievements of ecocities using the Yale Index or the UNDP index at the local level.
Efforts will be made to strengthen ties to international organizations, to engage in dialogue on curricular change with educators and students from urban studies and architecture programs, and to encourage practical change in how city planning is viewed on the level of local government.

 

Long-term:
Demonstrate the impact of local changes on national policy; demonstrate a measurable effect on global environmental indicators; establish global standards for ecocities.
Determine criteria for recognition as 1) beginning ecocity 2) established ecocity 3) advanced ecocity.

Award recognition, opportunities for investment, etc. for cities that reach the advanced level.
Establish an EMN (Ecocity Mayor’s Network).
Publication, in multiple languages, of a manual for setting up an ecocity.

1) To publish materials in multiple languages outlining basic strategies for reducing energy use and improving the environment in coordination with other organizations. These materials are aimed at local government and citizens.
2) To build close working relationships between local governments to discuss common concerns and put forth proposals for cooperation.
3) To arrange for the joint purchases of materials (such as solar cells) in large quantity so as to reduce the cost.
4) To administer a system for the open exchange of information concerning strategies and technologies.
5) To organize ecocity conferences and symposiums.
6) To undertake joint applications by multiple ecocities to international organizations for funding.
7) To establish evaluation criteria for assessing the progress of Ecocities and creating incentives for ecocities in cooperation with central governments and international organizations.
8) To promulgate new standards for measuring growth that take into account environmental factors; also translating and popularizing these standards at the local level. To recommend and to advise in the implementation of careful evaluation programs for environmental issues at the local level using Yale Index, UNDP index or some other standard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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