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March 31, 2010

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Planting to 'enjoy the shade'

THERE'S a delightful Chinese proverb that describes sustainability very well: "One generation plants the trees, the next enjoys the shade." Today, we can legitimately ask ourselves whether our children and their children really will "enjoy shade," considering the challenges we face, particularly in mega-cities like Shanghai.

More than half of the world's population now lives in urban areas. While one-fifth of global GDP is generated by the world's 10 economically most important cities, they also account for three-quarters of global energy consumption and 80?percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Clearly, the battle against climate change and the campaign for sustainability will be fought in cities. The theme of World Expo 2010 Shanghai rings true: "Better City, Better Life." It implies that if we manage to make cities more sustainable, then we can improve the quality of life for all.

Expo 2010 is a unique opportunity for Shanghai to take the lead in China's transition to a sustainable economy. Siemens is helping Shanghai and China do this. We are in the business of providing sustainable infrastructure solutions. Long before this idea became anchored in public awareness, our company's founder said: "I will never sell my company's future for short-term gain."

In 1879, Siemens delivered China's first power generator to light the busy Shanghai Port, which enabled around-the-clock operation. In 1904, we opened our first permanent office in China, in Shanghai, and this marked the beginning of our commitment to the city for generations to come. We have kept that early commitment to Shanghai to this day.

At Expo 2010, Shanghai is setting a new standard in sustainability for major events. As the official "Global Partner for Innovative Infrastructure and Healthcare of World Expo 2010 Shanghai China" and "Global Partner for Lighting," Siemens fully supports this effort and the "Green Guidelines" of Expo 2010, and we are contributing sustainable solutions in a wide range of areas, including transportation, buildings, lighting, energy supply, healthcare, water, waste, and safety and security.

As cities around the world struggle to tackle issues such as traffic congestion, pollution, inadequate energy supply and other infrastructure deficiencies, it is clear that no one can do this alone. Cities must exchange information, share best practices, and learn from one another, from experts and from private enterprises.

In the run up to the Expo 2010, Siemens will cooperate with Chinese partners in "urban resources efficiency profiling." This method has been a great success in Europe. It supports city planners in drawing up a road map for increasing their city's sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint.

For example, we sponsored the sustainability study "Munich - Paths Toward a Carbon-Free Future." Key findings of this study will be incorporated in the climate plan of the city of Munich. We've also commissioned a further study of this kind for the so-called European Green City Index, where we will benchmark the sustainability of 30 European metropolises.

In short, thought leadership is just as important as technology leadership in developing sustainable urban infrastructures. Today, more than ever, cities need partners who know how the infrastructures of cities work, which levers have greatest potential, and which technologies are most effective.

With its rich and diverse culture, its dynamic economy, and its industrial and its technological capabilities, Shanghai plays a pivotal role in the development of China and Southeast Asia, and clearly it has the potential to be China's role model in sustainable development.

I am confident that Shanghai will proudly showcase this potential at Expo 2010, and then lead China's sustainable development in the decades to come - so that China's future generations "enjoy the shade."

(This message has been abridged to suit space limitations.)


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