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October 31, 2010

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Sustainable development in focus

GOVERNMENT heads, business leaders and scholars from around the world will gather in Shanghai today to discuss urban innovation and sustainable development at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo Summit Forum.

Care for the environment, investment in green energy, prudent financial regulations and better academic research and development are among the keys to creating a sustainable city, forum participants said yesterday.

"Science is ready for green energy but there's still very little investment in the sector when compared with the output of the energy industry," said Carlo Rubbia, scientific director of the Germany-based Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies and also a Nobel Laureate in Physics. "It's not only a scientific issue, but political, economic and financial as well."

More investment should be directed into research and development of green energy to achieve sustainable growth, he said.

Tu Weiming, a Peking University professor, said the idea of sustainable development is not new. Tu said ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius always stressed a harmonious balance between people and nature, but the concept hasn't been fully implemented yet.

Inaki Azkuna, mayor of Spanish city Bilbao, said industrialized cities need to move up the production chain, gearing the economy more toward the services industry to achieve sustainable growth.

Shanghai, which is emerging as a global financial and shipping center, is shifting its reliance on low-end manufacturing and boosting the services sector.

While Shanghai is rising as a global financial center, its prudent regulations in the financial sector show an intelligent approach to how the industry should develop, said Michael Spence, chairman of the Commission on Growth and Development and a Nobel Laureate in Economics.

"For a metropolis like Shanghai, the importance of a city's museums should not be underestimated," Azkuna said. "Museums provide cultural heritage, but they can also bring economic benefits to a great city."

Scholars and market watchers are among the nearly 2,000 participants who will attend today's one-day forum. The participants also include top leaders, government heads, Nobel Prize winners, mayors of major cities and business leaders.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will deliver the opening remarks at the forum. Participants will discuss how cities can improve through information industry, innovation, science and technology, and community governance.

At its conclusion, the forum will release the "Shanghai Declaration."

The summit forum is being co-hosted by the Shanghai World Expo organizing committee, the United Nations and the International Expositions Bureau.


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