CDIA Holds Sub Forum on Eco Forum Global Annual Conference in Guiyang
July 30, 2014
The 6th Eco Forum Global Annual Conference opened on Friday, 11 July 2014 in Guiyang Capital in the southwestern province of Guizhou, China with the theme, “Joining Hands, Leveraging Reforms to Bring Forth a New Era of Eco-Civilization”. This year’s conference gathered the most number of attendees so far, reaching nearly 7,000.
In his opening message sent to the Forum, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced that China will intensify environmental cooperation with other countries and concerned organizations to further push for the implementation of international environment pacts and jointly address the issue of climate change. He added that China has defined Ecological and Environmental Protection as the means to open up to the global community highlighting the efforts China has made in curbing the problems of haze, water pollution and soil contamination. Li expressed optimism that the Forum will bring about a shared sense of eco-wise development and open new frontiers for sustainable growth in the world.
The Cities Development Initiative for Asia (CDIA), as an event partner, organized the Sub-Forum, “Sustainable Infrastructure: How Financing can Contribute to Eco-Development” in a 3-session workshop. This workshop was co-organized with Global Infrastructure Basel Foundation (GIB), a leading global non-profit foundation dedicated to promoting sustainable infrastructure financing practices, with which CDIA has long standing cooperation agreement to advocate sustainable projects.
The first session was a panel discussion started off by Switzerland’s Minister of Environment, Dr. Bruno Oberle, who pointed out that sustainable infrastructure must be understood in a more comprehensive context than just environmental or ecological. The financial aspect is fundamental, and the inclusion of the citizens or end-users is also an integral part of the holistic picture. The users are then made to pay for the benefit that they derive from its use; the more benefit, the more they pay in return. Such is the case in Switzerland and in Europe in general. This involvement makes the citizens more conscious of costs and the importance of wise utilization of resources and infrastructure.
CDIA Head of China Office, Mr. Adolfo Guerrero, in agreement further added that the sensible and efficient use of resources enhances sustainability. The investment is recovered over time through the use of the infrastructure, so the longer the infrastructure is usable the more opportunity for recovery. Therefore sustainable infrastructure investment must be viewed in the long term. When considering the needs of a community for a green project – its uses, dimension and future demand, affordability and operability must also be taken into account. The fees and taxes levied on the community for the use of the infrastructure must be reasonable enough, and its operation simple and affordable. Only then can there be an assurance that the project truly caters to the needs of the citizens. With this, the whole project procurement process may appear more difficult, lengthy and costly, but the returns on investment are long-term, more stable and sustainable. This attracts more investors and financing can be more easily obtained for these projects. Early stage preparation involving high quality pre-feasibility and feasibility studies then become crucial. The CDIA assists cities in their projects from conception to inception to obtain the most suitable financing. Mr. Hans Peter Egler, CEO of GIB expanded further this idea to explain the GIB grading tool used as an appraisal for the viability of projects to increase their chances for financing.
The case studies presented in the 2nd session illustrated the points discussed by the panel of experts. The Xinyu New Districts Comprehensive Climate Change and Storm Water Management Project and the Indonesia Waste to Energy Project were cited as examples of successful green projects with sustainable development concepts. To solve the electricity shortage and the problem of waste management, the Waste to Energy project in Riau, Indonesia began in 2014 with the aim of producing power from waste without incineration. Not only will it result to energy independence and provide job opportunities, but the low CO2 emissions will also make the city odor-free. Xinyu project, on the other hand, is a comprehensive project to mitigate floods in the old city by implementing measures in the new district to reduce the effects of climate change. It also provides improved water quality through efficient storm water management. These elements were not originally considered in the project and its inclusion has not only made the project more sustainable, but it has also strengthened the resolve to find the necessary financial resources for its implementation.
The sub-forum ended with an interactive exchange between the panelists and the audience that clarified doubts and questions, and reinforced the new ideas and information shared throughout the conference. It became evident that there was excitement and enthusiasm among the local government officials present as they saw the new possibilities available to them in pursuing their development goals for their respective municipalities.
There was also great interest in CDIA’s processes in helping cities not only develop sustainable projects but, more importantly, seek out much needed funds for them. The spontaneous exchange demonstrated a high level of receptivity among the participants, and it was most encouraging to see everyone leave the halls with a forward looking mindset.