Changwon Wins UN Environmental Award

Changwon has won a UN Public Service award for "fostering participation in public policy-making decisions through innovative mechanisms."

The southeastern industrial city received the honor at a UN forum at KINTEX in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province last Thursday for a project to build the best neighborhood.

Under the project, neighborhoods in the city set their own targets, such as conserving energy or reducing garbage and greenhouse gas emissions.

Launched in 2011, the project saw 328 individual programs implemented as of 2013, and 64 are underway.

The award was given to the city largely due to citizens' voluntary participation, said UN Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo.

Back in 2006, Changwon declared its aim to become Korea's environmental capital and has since implemented diverse eco-friendly policies.

◆ Public Bikes

Changwon started a bike-rental program in 2008, encompassing 430 bicycles and 20 bicycle stations. The numbers have grown 10-fold in just five years to over 7,000 bikes and 240 stations.

Now the program has a membership of around 260,000 people with an average daily use of 250,000, while the bikes have become one of the city's major transportation modes.

People can rent or return the bicycles at any of the stations around the clock. They are equipped with a GPS chip so their movements can be easily traced.

◆ Electric Cars

In 2011, Changwon was selected by the Environment Ministry to lead the electric vehicle initiative. Under the initiative, the city now operates 111 EVs, the most among local governments, including 30 provided to the private sector.

In May the city also became the nation's first local government to initiate regulations to facilitate the use of the eco-friendly vehicles in the city and will provide another 100 EVs to the private sector by July.

◆ Solar-Powered Tower

The solar-powered tower in Changwon is the largest of its kind in the nation at 136 m high, housing an exhibition space spanning 6,336 sq.m of space.

The walls generate energy by absorbing the sun's rays and can produce 1,264 kW a day, enough to power 200 households.

Changwon will continue to implement environment policies that can improve the quality of people's life, a city official pledged. The award will expedite the city's drawing up new eco-friendly policies, he added.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jul. 02, 2014 12:43 KST