September 2013, Suwon City, South Korea
In the last week of September, ROAP made a visit to the EcoMobility World Festival innovated and organized by the City of Suwon, a lead city in South Korea in sustainable, 'human' city development and ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability. The visit enjoyed the invitation and warm hospitality of the Second Vice Mayor of Suwon, Mr. Lee Jae Joon and ICLEI's Suwon Office. The EcoMobility festival is a month-long event of the City of Suwon and local communities of the Haenggung-dong neighbourhood, located within the Hwaseong Palace, which itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a most elegant example of Korean heritage. The authorities of Suwon share the core principles and targets of UN-Habitat, such as citizen participation in planning for improved life in cities and green investments for sustainable urban development.
The festival kicked off with a global Congress on EcoMobility. The Congress was attended by progressive international, governmental, business and research organizations and hosted by Suwon City and ICLEI with the supporting partners UN-Habitat, ADB, Inno, 8-80, GIZ, ISOCARP, and Despacio, amongst others.
The innovators of the EcoMobility World Festival in Suwon had undertaken a major, commendable effort to showcase the global leading edge in green sustainable urban mobility. Moreover, the Haenggung-dong area had undergone major upgrading by joint community and city effort in infrastructure and invigorating community art works. These had transformed the neighborhood into a village of colour and joy that were not compromised by the constant presence of noise and danger of cars. This together with the presence of quiet, clean futuristic vehicles buzzing around made the afternoon stroll through the festival site a truly unique, inspiring experience! In a perfectly sunny afternoon, it looked as if the entire Suwon and its surroundings had come to enjoy the well-planned, community-owned spaces of Haenggung-dong and its festival. One wants to believe that when the private cars and scooters return to roam the alleys of the festival site making it again more earthly place, after this month of EcoMobility experience the people of Suwon will think warmly about returning back to the future of sustainable city space.