ASEM gives city leaders new ideas

14 October 2014

Source: Jakarta Post, the (Indonesia)
Source type: Newspaper
Published on: 30 Oct 2010

Posted on: 01 Nov 2010

Governors and mayors exchanged ideas on tackling major issues including climate change at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) [Meeting of Mayors and Governors], which involved the leaders of world cities for the first time.

Leaders and representatives from the cities, including Bangkok, Berlin, Brunei, Rotterdam, Seoul, Tokyo, Helsinki and Vientiane — underlined the importance of ASEM in providing a platform for dialogue and cooperation at the local level.

Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo said large cities in Europe and Asia shared the same challenges such as urbanization, environment sustainability and multiculturalism.

"Every city has a different character and solution, but we can learn from each other," he said during a press conference Friday.

Earlier in the morning, delegates shared a light moment when they planted mangroves in Pantai Indah Kapuk in North Jakarta. They later discussed the road maps to a greener city in a session on sustainability and climate change.

The leaders of Tokyo and Rotterdam said they developed similar approaches to increasing green spaces in their cities.

"In Tokyo, we have little space for greenery, so we plant on school yards and on top of buildings," Ryuichi Kohama, Tokyo Metro government's director in charge of city diplomacy, said.

He added that his administration also planted trees in disposal sites.

The director general of Rotterdam's climate bureau, Paula Verhoeven, said her administration enhanced a lot of green roofs in the city by implementing subsidies for citizens and companies to place grass and plants on roof buildings.

"That is a very good way to contain water and to prevent storm water from running off the building and flooding the streets," she said.

Verhoeven added that her administration spent ¤200,000 (US$278,450) a year in subsidies to for more than half of the city's green roofs.

"Residents receive ¤30 for every square meter of the roof of the building," she said, adding that the program, which began in 2009, resulted in an additional 40,000 square meters of green roofs.

Verhoeven said her city was also designing the first multifunctional use of a water square. The square, she said, was a little bit deeper than the surrounding and would function as a playground during clear days and as a water basin when it rained.

Fauzi said the idea to plant of building rooftops needed more study before it could be implemented in Jakarta, but he encouraged property companies such as Lippo Village in South Jakarta to apply the water square system.

Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said his city was focusing on expanding the rail-based mass rapid transit system to encourage the use of public transportation to reduce pollution.

"Currently, 70 million trips are made everyday by Bangkok residents, 60 percent in private vehicle and the rest in public vehicles. We want to reverse that figure," he said.

Paribatra added that Bangkok aimed to have an additional 300 kilometers of railway network in the next 10 years.

Developed cities such as Helsinki and Berlin have started to develop solar energy in housing complexes. Berlin has also rolled out the use of electric cars.

The ASEM meeting for governors and mayors in Jakarta is the first, with future meetings taking place every two years, alternating between Asian and European hosts.

-by Indah Setiawati, The Jakarta Post