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June 12, 2010

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City planners can glean big insight from the UBPA cases

CITY planners may find ideas to relieve the headache of urban issues at the Urban Best Practices Area.

Most cities face pressures like population growth, resource strain, climate change, and pollution.

The UBPA features some 70 cities from across the world showcasing solutions to urban issues. It has been acclaimed as an innovative platform in World Expo history.

Germany's Freiburg is a low-carbon exhibitor in the UBPA area. The city enjoys a reputation of being a "green city" thanks to its sustainable development, reasonable ecological protection strategies and effective use of renewable energy.

"Freiburg boasts its capacity in the use of solar energy," said Chen Lian, director of the Freiburg exhibition.

Curitiba, Brazil, has also chosen an eco-friendly path. The city is famous for its effective public transportation network.

Unlike most Brazilian cities that are dependent on cars, two thirds of the 1.7 million residents in Curitiba use buses as their main means of transport.

The city's public transport system needs no government subsidies and its consumption of fuel oil is only 25 percent that of other similar-sized cities. Traffic jams are rare.

World-recognized eco-friendly cities also include Berkley in the United States, Kitakyushu in Japan, Adelaide in Australia and Malmo in Sweden.

"The aim of creating an eco-friendly city is to effectively use and protect its natural resources so that humans and nature can coexist well," said Huang Guangyu, a city planning expert.

"The vital part of a city should be people," said Liu Taige, a renowned international city planning expert. "All construction should be oriented for people, so people can enjoy convenience and comfort, and have the chance to develop themselves."

Malmo is a good example.

The city transformed its old industrial base into an energy-efficient and eco-friendly residential area in 1996. The better environment soon attracted more knowledge-intense companies from the IT and clean-energy sectors.

That helped Malmo successfully switch from a reliance on manufacturing to developing a high technology sector. The city also created more job opportunities for its residents.

Berkley also demonstrated its understanding of the relationship between economic development and ecological protection.

Jeffrey L. Soule, policy director of the American Planning Association, said city planning is about putting people first.


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