Day Two Highlights - Category D


Odense Municipality, Denmark

Odense’s candidature as one of the world’s most liveable cities was illustrated with reference to the city’s most famous son, Hans Christian Andersen who lived by the adage “to travel is to live”. Today his native city has adopted his creed as “to play is to live” and LivCom’s judges were told that the objective is to make Odense a modern, sustainable fairytale for both residents and visitors - more than 150 different nationalities live in Odense.

Among the most innovative elements highlighted during the competition was the “physical check up” of the city commissioned by the municipality in the form of an urban life survey. This 10-year study (the most recent of which took place in 2008) has provided a snapshot of life based findings from census data, interviews and questionnaires and analysis of urban spaces.

In the area of environmental best practice, the Odense team were keen to stress the city’s credentials as a world leader.  The city has one of the world’s most highly-developed district heating systems and is able to utilise energy very efficiently. District heating is the primary source of heating in Odense and is supplied to 95% of homes (around 80,000).

Suncheon City, Korea

A city of mountains and lakes, Suncheon’s credentials as a community dedicated to creating an environmentally friendly and sustainable future have already been recognised. The LivCom panel was told that in 2009, the city had been awarded the Presidential Award at the First EcoRich Competition. Underpinning this was a comprehensive development plan aimed at making Suncheon Korea’s Ecological Capital. The Suncheon delegation told LivCom that this “transcended the limitations of a simple, development orientated modernisation process to provide the foundations to protect the region’s natural and cultural assets.

The creation of a low carbon city landscape was one of the significant elements of the Suncheon presentation. It focussed on the planting of 1.46million trees on unused land and the creation of more dense forest by planting 3.65million trees in other parts of the city. The delegation told LivCom that the measure has contributed to preventing an increase in local temperatures resulting from global warming. The creation of 155km of cycle tracks within the city has paved the way for a reduction in car use. Green public transport is another Suncheon success story with the introduction of 100% natural gas operated buses throughout the city.

Riverside, California, USA popn

The team from Riverside highlighted civic pride in significant achievements in the area of environmental best practice including water conservation, transportation, energy efficiency, urban nature and waste reduction. Not only has the city met its targets, it has beaten them across the board, the LivCom judging panel heard, making Riverside an environmental leader both in the region and across the USA.

Describing the pressures it is under, the Riverside delegation told LivCom that “the city’s future and location demand such diligence”. Riverside receives an above average level of air pollution and is situated in a semi-arid region of Southern California where water sources are dependent on local snow and rainfall. With California’s Mediterranean climate, unpredictable rainfall and growing population, the state’s water supply is facing some of the most significant challenges of the last half century yet despite these challenges, Riverside manages to be water-independent.

Riverside’s city-wide water conservation ordinance currently being implemented and set to be in effect by the end of 2010, was one measure highlighted along with plans to expand usage of recycled waste water. By 2020, LivCom heard, the city is set to have reduced water consumption by 20% and will have increased the use of recycled water by 30% over that time.

Miami Beach, Florida, USA

Miami Beach’s credentials as a world class city were outlined in a programme that pointed to the need to address the community’s specific issues of balancing care for its massive tourist population of six million at the same time as looking after its permanent residents. Its success in achieving this was indicated by the results of community surveys in recent years that suggest an increasing approval rating – in 2005 77% of residents rated the city as either an excellent or good place to live, two years later, this had risen to 83%.

Another key challenge related to geography related to the city’s response to the hurricanes of 2005. After the loss of thousands of trees the LivCom team heard that a detailed reforestation programme had been implemented and the goal is to achieve a fully-planted urban forest within five years. The city promotes best horticultural practice, water conservation, and integrated pest management to deal with the special local problems of urban tree planting – limited space and harsh environmental conditions. The dune and water way clean-ups that take place several times a year were highlighted as among achievements. Public service information relating to tree care – from planting the right tree in the right place to advice on pruning and steps to reduce hurricane damage is freely available on MBTV and through the local community newsletter.

Steps to conserve water – vital in an area of mass tourism – were among other environmental best practices highlighted with steps including reducing the impact of urban run off and waterway maintenance.

Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine

A former strategic defence point for middle-range SS20 missiles during the Soviet era, Ivano-Frankivsk, has a fascinating modern history that has given rise to a range of challenges that would test most local government teams around the globe. Founded in 1662, this historic community in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains had its modern-day incarnation shaped by its role as a strategic defensive military point during the Soviet era. Closed to foreign visitors during this period for security reasons, the municipality has since opened its doors and reached out for international support in order to unravel the legacy of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The LivCom judges heard that the city did not have the financial resource or wealth of expertise to resolve a range of issues relating to infrastructure, public services and lack of civic enterprise. Support through the UNDP has been critical in galvanising local action and over the past five years more than 300 community groups have worked to implement a 13.964m UAH programme of development and renovation. Projects have included the reconstruction of basement properties, replacement of roofs, renovation of stairwells, installation of temperature gauges and insulation. The issue of roofing has been one of the most pressing issues in the city – in spring and winter, residents in top floor properties had suffered leaking roofs together with high levels of moisture and humidity. Before the work residents were paying for more than the level of utilities they consumed thanks to water leaks and heat loss due to poor insulation. LivCom heard that the UNDP programme  had been a major breakthrough – after the installation of temperature gauges and the renovation of water supplies, heating and sewerage systems, people were now starting to pay less for their housing costs. Having been closed off to the rest of the world until the end of the Soviet era, the LivCom panel heard that Ivano-Frankivsk (named after a famous Ukrainian writer and philosopher), had plans to market itself as the “gateway to the Carpathians” and is already on the international map thanks to an annual contest for blacksmiths that attracts 300 competitors from around the globe.

Dongcheng District, Beijing, China

Work to enhance the natural and built landscape in Dongcheng was one of the most eye-catching elements of the presentation from the team in the suburbs of Beijing. The Dongcheng team outlined an impressive  set of achievements around protecting and restoring historic features in the civic landscape. In addition, tight building restrictions mean that construction of new buildings in a classical style is encouraged and the greening of the district has been promoted. Traditional use of vines along walls and over roofs has been fostered and a tree planting programme focussing on local species (which number 98% of the total number of trees) implemented. The stunning results of the great care that has been taken to link the natural and built environment can be seen in the Imperial Root Ruins Park – the first strip park to have been built in the city of Beijing. The park brings together more than 70 different plant species which echo the red and yellow of the Ming City Wall tiles, the leaves of the 590 Ginkgo and 62 pterocarya stenoptera turning red and then yellow in autumn to provide a glorious backdrop to the historic architecture. Tackling the challenges of potential damage to centuries old sites through natural conditions and climatic changes is one of the most difficult issues facing Dongcheng District, the LivCom panel heard. Working together with the central state government to produce a fund for research and an appropriate response in these areas, the community embarked on a programme to “build a low carbon city to achieve green development” in March 2010 with the aim of reducing emissions by 15% by 2012 and by 50% by 2020. Working cohesively with neighbouring  regions is another positive development for Dongcheng’s citizens – efforts to combat the severe sandstorms that hit the district has led the municipality to explore ways of assisting with Inner Mongolia’s green engineering projects.

Tallahassee, Florida, USA

As the capital of the USA’s fourth largest state, the Tallahassee delegation were keen to stress their community’s strength as a leader in innovation, environmental initiatives, neighbourhood preservation and community involvement. A median age of 27.2 ranks Tallahassee as the second youngest city in Florida while the educational attainment is the highest in the state. The city owns and operates six utilities – an electric generation, transmission and distribution system, a natural gas distribution system, a water production and distribution system, a sewage collection system, solid waste and recycling centres and a storm water flood control system. It’s activities don’t stop there however, the municipality owns and operates the fire service, a regional airport, all public transport and two golf courses. The city’s management of stormwater was one area highlighted in the presentation to the LivCom panel with state requirements regularly exceeded. A unique feature of Tallahassee’s programme is the way in which the stormwater facilities have been incorporated into natural settings that are then used for leisure purposes as trails, exercise areas and for nature conservation. Other steps demonstrating environmental best practice include a ban on idling of city vehicles and equipment and a training programme for city employees to assess personal choices and habits with respect to sustainability at home and work.