International Forum on Sustainable Development Goals in Australia.
The Sustainable Development Goals, Climate Change and Cities online forum was held by the School of Design of University of Melbourne on October 1, 2020. This three-day international forum attracted over 700 participants from 83 universities from 25 countries as well as representatives from critical international organizations such as UN-Habitat and ICLEI. In early 2020, New Taipei City participated in the World Cities Forum held by UH-Habitat and shared the experience of being the first among six special municipalities in Taiwan to publishing its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)Voluntary Local Review (VLR), attracting wide attention.
As a result, New Taipei City established a connection with University of Melbourne and New York City Government. This time, New Taipei City was specially invited to attend the City and SDG session. Yao Ching-Yu, Director General of the Secretariat of New Taipei City Government delivered a speech to share New Taipei City’s experience of releasing the VLR last year and of being the first to donate COVID-19 prevention supplies this year. Yao emphasized that New Taipei City’s appeal to closely follow international trends, overcome the limitation of COVID-19, and continue to deepen international partnership.
Critical representatives of promoting SDGs in cities shared their experiences on the same stage
At Yao’s session, four famous people from the industry, government, and academia gave speeches, namely Penny Abeywardena, head of the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs of New York City Government; Tony Pipa, a senior researcher of global economy and development at the Brookings Institution of the United States; Michele Acuto, director of the Connected Cities Lab at University of Melbourne; and Roger Swinbourne, associate principal at Arup, a sustainable construction international consultancy.
Designing with care, New Taipei City’s VLR building blocks attracted attention. During the session, Abeywardena first introduced a series of New York City’s policies for promoting SDGs, including OneNYC 2050: New York City’s Strategic Plan; We Are Still In, a project of cities in the United States jointly support the Paris Agreement; and the New York VLR declaration that has been proactively promoted to call on to cities worldwide for support. Senior researcher Cathy Oke of the host, University of Melbourne, added that New Taipei City was the only city in Taiwan that participated in the World Urban Forum 10 held in early 2020, and New Taipei City’s VLR left her a deep impression with the fun building blocks attached to the report as well as the measure of holding SDGs in communities to invite citizens to participate. The efforts New Taipei City spent on promoting public participation was particularly attractive among various cities.
SDGs create a stage for city diplomacy
Yao stated that although Taiwan is under limitations to participate in international events, SDGs have unlimited potential. In 2019, New Taipei City voluntarily published the first VLR in Taiwan, and it was valued by SDG groups in the United States and Japan. The Mayor’s Office of New York City even made a Facebook post showing New Taipei City’s VLR on its official Facebook page, inviting New Taipei City Government to share the stage and give a speech at UN-Habitat World Urban Forum. This was a rare opportunity for cities in Taiwan, and it showed that SDG is the optimal platform for establishing friendship worldwide. After the COVID-19 pandemic started, New Taipei City offered most rapid aids with supplies and experience sharing to cities such as New York and San Francisco, inviting various countries to view New Taipei as an experimental field of new life under the pandemic. It demonstrated the critical value of SDG 17 Global Partnership during the pandemic.
SDGs shape the vision of a resilient city
On the other hand, as COVID-19 rages on, the world gradually becomes familiar with distant teaching and working, online cross-region communication, and urban replanning to meet fairness and justice. New Taipei City as the most populated city in Taiwan must refer to global experiences to resist impacts such as the pandemic, environment, and economy in the future. This online forum held by the School of Design of University of Melbourne not only discussed the promotion of SDGs of cities but also included diverse viewpoints such as indigenous people, climate change, and urban design, making it a precious exchange experience.