The 5 Winners of the Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation

On 7 December, in the context of “The Guangzhou International Urban Innovation Conference” the winners of the 3rd Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation were announced. Launched in 2012 and co-sponsored by United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and the World Association of the Major Metropolises (Metropolis) the prize, awarded biennially, recognizes the value of innovative urban projects that put cities inhabitants’ wellbeing at the centre of its design and implementation.  

Boston, Copenhagen, La Paz, Qalyubeya Governorate and Songpa-gu are the winners of the last edition. On the following lines we offer a brief summary of the awarded projects:

First, the Boston municipality developed a particular modality of participatory budgeting that puts the youth at the heart of governmental decisions; with the project “Youth Lead the Change: Youth Participatory Budgeting”, the city of Boston (USA) has demonstrated how the communities of young people (between 12 and 25 years) are indispensable to invigorate city-making and assure a sustainable future. Secondly, the “Climate resilient Neighbourhood” of Copenhagen (Denmark), St. Kjelds shows the first pilot experiment of environmental risk management at the neighbourhood level, particularly by offering green solutions for sustainable storm water management in order to avoid floods. On the third place, “La Paz Zebras: Citizen Culture Project” is yet another example of youth involvement into a transformative urban policy, but this time in the capital of Bolivia (La Paz), with the focus on reducing traffic accidents and improve civic behaviour of drivers and pedestrians alike. The fourth awarded project is the “Integrated Community Based Solid Waste Management” of the city of Qalyubeya Governorate, part of Greater Cairo (Egypt). In the heart of one of the world’s largest metropolitan regions, with increasing inequality, informal 20,000 waste-pickers have now become indispensable municipal agents to grant the sustainability and livability of the city. Finally, a municipality of South Korea, Songpa-gu, was also awarded for its Solar Sharing Power Plant, an innovative model to generate renewable energy, energy welfare and with a positive impact on environmental sustainability altogether.

The Secretary General of UCLG, Josep Roig, and the Secretary General of Metropolis, Felip Roca, stressed the need to ensure that lessons from the finalists of the Award are shared among local and regional government networks to inspire future action. The president of UCLG, Parks Tau, also highlighted the importance of innovation for the implementation of the SDG, the New Urban Agenda and the Paris Climate agreement.