Five innovative urban initiatives win 2018 Guangzhou Award

BY :Molly Wong, Louis Berney

UPDATED :December 10, 2018


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An award ceromony & Gala dinner was held on Dec.7. [Photo/Foreign Affairs Office of Guangzhou Municipal Government]

Five innovative urban initiatives won this year’s Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation (the Guangzhou Award). The winners were chosen from 15 finalists and were announced at an award ceremony and gala dinner December 7.

Surabaya (Indonesia) was named as the online popular city after a 45-day online vote. [Photo/Foreign Affairs Office of Guangzhou Municipal Government]

The five winners are: Mezitli (Turkey), Milan (Italy), Guadalajara (Mexico), Wuhan (China), and New York City (the United States). At the same time, Surabaya (Indonesia) was named as the online popular city after a 45-day online vote.
“We deliberated about the following questions in terms of the criteria that determine the results before we made the final decision,”said Celia Wade-Brown, chair of the jury.“Are the initiatives really innovative and original? Do the initiatives exert significant influence and are they particularly relevant to sustainable development goals (SDGs)? Are the initiatives able to help other cities cope with similar challenges?”
After fierce debates, the initiatives of the five cities were singled out based on four standards - innovation, effectiveness, practicability and influence.

Mezitli: Women Producers Market [Photo/Foreign Affairs Office of Guangzhou Municipal Government]

Mezitli won for its women producers market initiative, which provides equal rights to more than 6,000 vulnerable women who lack sources of income and insurance. The project contributes to greater gender equality and helps strengthen policies and legislation. The jury recommended that more children be involved in promoting equality in the next generation.

Milan Food Policy: An innovative Framework for Making Urban Food System More Sustainable, Inclusive [Photo/Foreign Affairs Office of Guangzhou Municipal Government]

Milan was honored for its innovative framework for making urban food systems more sustainable and inclusive. The jury said the city combines global governance with urban governance, creating new model of governance based on an integrated approach among public agencies, social organizations, research bodies and the private sector.

Guadalajara: Citizen-led Metropolitan Coordination [Photo/Foreign Affairs Office of Guangzhou Municipal Government]

Guadalajara won over the jury with its citizen-led metropolitan coordination initiative. It brings citizens to the core of the decision-making process, recognizing their vital roles not only in the identification of main metropolitan challenges, but also in the design of solutions. This project is the first of its kind in Mexico.

Wuhan: “Rebirth”of Urban Waste Dump- Ecological Treatment and Return of Plurality [Photo/Foreign Affairs Office of Guangzhou Municipal Government]

Wuhan was honored for its “rebirth” project of an urban landfills involving ecological treatment. It transforms one of Asia’s largest landfills into a national urban-ecological landmark and a major recreational eco-park, which has proven to be a notable success in China.

Global Vision | Urban Action:New York City’s Voluntary Local Review (VLR) of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Shows Local Progress for Global Action [Photo/Foreign Affairs Office of Guangzhou Municipal Government]

New York’s award was given for its global vision, urban action project involving voluntary local review of sustainable development goals. The key innovation of the project identifies the SDGs as a framework to engage other cities on common issues that impact the urban community.

Before the results were announced, fifteen shortlisted cities presented their initiatives on December 6 in four streams: Accessible Cities, Cooperative Cities, Inclusive Cities and Resilient Cities. Each stream was moderated by a technical committee member or a representative from an international organization. After each presentation, questions and answers were presented.
Other shortlisted cities were: Santa Fe, Argentina; Sydney, Australia; Salvador, Brazil; Repentigny, Canada; Yiwu, China; Santa Ana, Costa Rica; Utrecht, Netherlands; Kazan, Russia; and Durban (eThwkwini) of South Africa,

This year 273 innovation projects from 193 cities in 66 countries and regions were submitted for the Guangzhou award. The numbers of participating countries and regions, as well as cities, were a record high, according to organizers.

Co-sponsored by United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), the World Association of Major Metropolises, and Guangzhou Municipal Government, the award aims to inspire urban innovation at the municipal level by sharing experiences and best practices among cities, regions and countries.
The award has been held biennially since 2012 to recognize achievements by international cities and local governments in the practice of innovative governance. So far, more than 150 cities from over 50 countries and regions have submitted more than 700 entries for the award. Officials say that because of the award, Guangzhou has established good working communications with more than 200 cities around the globe.