Guangzhou declaration

(Officially approved on November 17, 2012 on the occasion of the Guangzhou International Urban Innovation Conference)

We, urban leaders and managers, scholars and entrepreneurs from 149 cities in 62 countries and regions of the world, are gathered in Guangzhou China from 16th to 17th November to celebrate the first Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation under the theme “So Dreams Come True”.

The Award ceremony is being held in conjunction with the International Urban Innovation Conference and the Board of Directors Meeting of Metropolis, the global city network, during which participants exchange ideas on innovative urban development in an extensive and in-depth manner.  We are proud to witness the birth of the 1st Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation, opening a brand-new chapter in the history of innovative development for cities across the world.

Driven by the ongoing creative momentum of urban civilization, the process of urbanization is extending its scope to reach almost every corner of the world. In the light of these circumstances, as participating delegates we have reached a high degree of consensus that cities and local governments are playing and must play an increasingly significant role in global governance. At the same time, we need to prepare ourselves to tackle the diverse challenges arising from globalization and urbanization, such as land use shortage, population explosion, environmental deterioration, traffic congestion and inadequate public services.

We are conscious of the need to work together cooperatively, across physical and conceptual boundaries, to respond positively to these highly challenging tasks. We are convinced that the concept now known as ‘new urbanization, which centers on a human-oriented and environmentally-sustainable approach, is the right way to face these emerging and hugely complex issues.

Our common belief and hope is that through this concept of ‘new urbanization’, we can transform the homogeneous urban space into a dynamic culturally-enriching open space. Cities will no longer be a mere agglomeration of dwellings for our existence on the planet earth; instead, they must become an eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable living space where humanity and nature co-exist in harmony. These are the places we can truly call ‘home’.

To this end, we have reached a consensus to make the Guangzhou Declaration a bright beacon of hope and determination, in these turbulent and ecologically fragile times, that can clearly express our vision and longing for a new age of innovation-driven urbanization.

For these reasons we hereby propose the following:

I  – To establish and promote the human-oriented concept of urban development

Cities are the “vessels” for human society to nourish and sustain both the spiritual and material achievements of civilizations.  The ultimate goal of urban development is therefore to provide opportunities for residents to fully realize their respective potential. All urban planning and construction initiatives must be carried out in strict accordance with the needs of residents. Urban administrators should endeavor to provide a livable urban environment, creating a spirit of enterprise and ample job opportunities for the people, and improving the integrative needs of the different social groups which make up the whole. Other prioritized development tasks include provision of comprehensive public services, an enhanced quality of life, and effective projects to enhance urban vitality. By doing so, each city can become the   “fertilizing substance” by which innovative talents are encouraged and sustained for the benefit of all inhabitants in pursuit of their dreams.

II   – To persist in a green and low-carbon direction for urban development

Any city is an integrated compound system, in which the ecological environment interacts with the social and economic advancement in the city. In other words, environmentally friendly modes of production and lifestyles are vital to the attainment of sustainable urban development. Urban administrators should therefore consistently apply and integrate eco-friendly concepts within their innovative urban design developments – in the areas of low-carbon technology application, cost-effectiveness in the uses of natural resources (such as water, land and energy), the design of compact and efficient urban spaces, and the preservation of biological diversity. The aim for such endeavors is to cultivate a sustainable urban development model that embraces and promotes green technology, the recycled use of goods, and implementation of a low-carbon economy.

III  – To apply smart technologies in the running of modern cities 

A new wave of industrial revolution, triggered by the interaction between the ‘next-generation’ information technologies and low-carbon technology, has brought about profound changes to city patterns and human ways of life. In this age of ‘mega data’, cities are confronted with ever more challenging tasks as well as unique opportunities.

In consequence, there is an urgent need for a whole new suite of future-oriented approaches, requiring speedy implementation.  These will, in turn ensure that further advances in innovative urban development are realized to catalyze and enhance the integration of the (in essence) human dynamics of industrialization,urbanization and ever faster and more powerful “informationization” – making use of the socially beneficial results of the (ever more far-reaching) interactions of data and technology.

In addition, cutting-edge information technology should be applied in every functional area of urban administration; such as city economies, politics, local culture, governance and the intrinsic elements which help to support our citizens’ daily lives. The primary purpose is to make much wiser decisions related to urban management, thus allowing the city to function with greater smartness and efficiency; and to offer much better and more convenient public services to the general public at large.

IV  – To showcase the unique charm of a city by inheriting its cultural heritage 

Cultural influence and its history are indivisibly entwined to make a city what it is today. Cultural traditions and heritage are what make up the soul of a city. While promoting economic development, city innovation and development, city planners must pay more attention to the exploration and innovative showcasing of history and culture, including the effective preservation of the remains of ancient civilizations, historical landmark buildings and other more intangible cultural heritages, which together have the potential to emphasize its urban uniqueness. By doing so, the city’s ‘cultural cloth’ can be fully exhibited and promoted to a larger audience, and through such means the city’s local culture becomes a pearl in the shared cultural treasure trove of mankind.

V  – To promote public participation in urban development and to stimulate sustainable innovation 

Innovation within and of the administrative service itself is likewise an integral part of innovative ‘new urbanism’ which should not be neglected nor over-shadowed. Residents themselves should be encouraged to participate in public affairs in an equal and equitable manner, so as to create a more in-touch and collaborative form of  governance between local governments, enterprises and residents. By such stronger forms of involvement and integration, both government and the general public can work in a cooperative and productive way, with each constituent having the chance to voice his or her views on both the development and management of their cities. Through such means, moreover, a better balance of interest among different stakeholders can be achieved, while at the same time, the majority of people can greatly enhance their senses of well-being.

VI  – To strengthen communication and cooperation among cities to further stimulate urban innovation 

Due to the ongoing trends of economic globalization and information networking, cities have become important nodes in the world economy, and a multi-layered worldwide city network is gradually taking shape. Cities across the world have more in-depth and sustained communication and cooperation with each other. Huge efforts still need to be made to improve the level of openness of different cities, allowing them to be integrated into the global city network. Through cooperation programs on economic development, ecological protection, environmental protection and social management improvement, cities across the world can help each other to devise and implement new working mechanisms for sustainable urban development.

People live in compact communities in cities, and it is through constant positive innovation that a city becomes a more energetic and vibrant place. The Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation is a perfect platform to showcase the valuable experience and best practices of different cities from across our world, in the realm of innovative urban development.

 

It is our sincere hope and conviction that we can learn more and more from each other, and work together, through positive cooperation, to build and create cities whose development is based on a low-carbon economy, the “smart city” philosophy, and a commitment to the well-being and happiness of citizens.