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Water Today Title June 29, 2022

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Update 2017/6/22
Metropolis World Congress


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By Cori Marshall

Trudeau, Coderre, Hidalgo at Metropolis 2017
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, and Mayor of Montréal Denis Coderre at Metropolis 2017 - Photo: Cori Marshall

Cities are emerging as solutions and actors when central governments are unwilling and unable to take action on important issues that face society. They can be the source of innovative solutions that can be exported to other urban areas as well as translated into national policies. Metropolis 2017 hosted a panel discussion on the arrival of Global Cities as drivers of change.

Mayor Denis Coderre said on a panel that discussed cities as drivers of change that there has been "a paradigm shift since COP 21 (2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference), a drastic change in the political reality." Coderre used the Canadian context as a means of explaining his point. He cited better relations with the federal government and the fact that the Québec government "changeD the legislation to give [Montréal] a status. Montréal was recognized as the Metropolis and Québec City the National Capital.

Coderre said that the recognition by the provincial government signified that the city went from being "a provincial creation to being a government." What that meant is that the city became "a full partner with the province in the areas of public health, economic development, social cohesion, sustainable development and the fight against climate change."

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo said that "large Global Cities are on the front line of Globalization, it is where we see the effects." Cities are "confronted with these issues and are forced to find solutions." Hidalgo underlined that "we have to recognize [cities'] capacity for innovation and their agility of the cities in finding the solutions."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did just that, saluted the cities willingness to take action when central governments just won’t. The Prime Minister used the period when the Conservatives were in power and "refused to speak or do anything about climate change, and rejected the Kyoto Accord." He added, "for close to a decade it was the provinces and big cities that lead the charge, and demonstrated leadership in a time when there was a lack of federal leadership."

The Congress gave the opportunity to see what sustainable practices cities have successfully implemented.

Chieh-Yu Lin, Director General Secretariat at New Taipei City Government, said "the city has put in place many policies to reduce the garbage and improve the environment." New Taipei launched a program aimed at reducing trash collection expenses, and the amount of trash, citizens were only permitted to buy city approved garbage bags or the garbage will not be collected. As a result, Lin said "since 2010 the amount pf garbage collected has dropped 60%," and the rate of recycling increased 8%.

The city noticed that the rate of garbage reduction and recycling had stagnated and then introduced an incentive program called the Recycling Rewards Service System (RRSS). Lin explained that residents "bring their recyclables to a recycling station it is weighed and reward points a given t them." The reward points can be redeemed for the city garbage bags or environmentally friendly products.

Lin said "the money that comes from the recycling business is used to develop the community." The money can only be used for "environmental improvement and practices, community activities, and outreach." The RRSS program has allowed the city to address urgent needs, subsidize jobs for minority groups, and provide scholarships for students," Lin said.

Large Global Cities seemed to be poised and ready to take on a larger role on the world stage. What’s more interesting is that there seems to be a willingness on the part of central governments to allow cities the space to participate. Whether this trend toward urban leadership is the solution or just part of it remains to be seen, though in some areas cities are getting results.

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