The mayors of 157 cities and environmental and educational experts from around the world met in Changwon last week to discuss ways to improve the urban environment.
The 2012 Congress of Educating Cities opened at the Changwon Exhibition Convention Center under the theme “Green Environment, Creative Education” last Wednesday and continued until Sunday.
Some 2,000 people, including officials from 343 cities in 41 countries and from international organizations like UNESCO as well as Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, South Gyeongsang Governor Kim Doo-kwan, and Changwon Mayor Park Wan-soo attended the opening ceremony on Thursday.
Participants shared environmental and education success stories from their countries in workshops held during the congress. Presentations were given on successful programs from 81 cities. The Spanish city of Granollers gave a presentation on how the Congost River was restored, while the host city of Changwon introduced its public bike rental system.
An international fair was also held, displaying outstanding educational and environmental programs in the IAEC member cities.Twenty-one Korean municipalities put their programs on display. Fifteen cities from six countries including Lyon in France and Tampere in Finland set up their own PR booths. Korean calligraphy and stone rubbings were so popular that many foreign visitors queued for some hands-on experience.
On the morning of Friday, the third day of the congress, a round table of mayors discussed the congress themes. Changwon Mayor Park recounted his own experience of commuting to work by bike for two years and elaborated on how Changwon has grown as an eco-friendly city by promoting cycling.
Afterwards, a monument was unveiled at the IAEC memorial park. A declaration was inscribed on the monument stressing “Green Environment, Creative Education” for sustainable urban life.
Established in 1994, the IAEC has a membership of 450 cities in 34 countries and is headquartered in Barcelona. The biennial congress shares outstanding educational examples in member cities. “We had a chance to publicize Changwon through the 2012 IAEC congress, a first for an Asian city,” said Lee Myung-ok of the Changwon city government. “Changwon is emerging as a model city for environment and green policies.”