Building better towns , creating better lives —— Speech at the opening ceremony of the International Towns Forum

Yanbing Chen Vice Chairman and General-Secretary of the International Towns Federation

Chairman Kevin Rudd,

Prime Minister George Papandreou,

Governor Thomas Riddge,

Professor Steven Chu,

Chairman Xinli Zheng,

Professor James Leckie,

Professor Marcus Feldman

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning !

Today, we are gathering in the magical land of Silicon Valley and breathing the fresh academic air of Stanford University, to start a great new project which concerns the whole of mankind namely the world-wide sustainable development of towns.

The International Towns Forum, co-organized by the International Towns Federation and the Center for Sustainable Development and Global Competitiveness at Stanford University, is now open.

On behalf of the organizers of this forum, I want to express our warm welcome to our guests and friends from all over the world!

Today’s world is full of challenges and wisdom. Only by pooling our experience, knowledge and wisdom ,do we have a chance to overcome these challenges. Perhaps the biggest challenge facing us today is the threat to our living environment and the sustainable development of our society

There are already so many important forums in the world; such as the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Boao Forum for Asia in China, and the OECD Forum in Pairs. However, today’s International Towns Forum has very special purpose.

Our goal is to shift the world’s attention from big cities to small towns, from urban environments to rural environments, from residents to migrants, from the present to the future. We aim to focus international wisdom and resources, on the future of towns around the world—our common home in the future.

The International Towns Forum hopes to achieve three goals.

The first goal is to develop a global agreement to give highest priority to the development of  towns.

With the  acceleration of mordernization, our hometowns are undergoing deep changes. According to the report released by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), 55% of the world’s population now lives in cities, and the global urbanization rate is expected to reach 68% by 2050.

The increased population  in cities, has forced us to face very serious urban problems; such as environmental pollution, traffic congestion, employment difficulties, inadequate water supply, insufficient public services, rapidly increasing housing costs and so on. These must be the focus of our forum today.

With accelerated  industrialization, the environment we live in is deteriorating day by day. Landscapes are being destroyed, water is becoming scarce, air is being polluted as greenhouse gas emissions increase. These are a sample of what we’re going to talk about today.

Rapid urbanization has led many people to escape from big cities, to get away from urban problems, building by developing and living in towns.

We are becoming increasingly aware that the countryside has become a desirable location for towns, which can be developed to optimize lifestyles, well-being and maintenance of the environment .

Therefore, we must form a consensus and attach great importance sustainable development of towns.

Our second goal is to create a strong global synergy for development of towns. There are thousands of  towns all over the world, some rich, some poor, some advanced, some backward, some traditional, some modern. No matter what country it belongs to, or where it is located, the goal is to make towns prosperous, peaceful, beautiful and in harmony with nature.

Each town has its own characteristics and advantages. If towns act alone, they will have little power. If they act together, each will gain strength.

Therefore, it is very necessary for  towns all over the world to forge a program of development synergy, face difficulties together and solve problems together in the struggle to achieve sustainability.

Let’s work together to make our towns stronger and to create a better life together!

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Our third goal is to build a platform for global cooperation among towns. The development of towns needs to form a consensus, to create a synergy, but we also need to cooperate! Different towns have different resources and different characteristics. Only when towns complement each other, share resources, share experiences and knowledge can we achieve cooperation and common growth.

It was to undertake this historical mission that the International Towns Federation(ITF)  was originally established.

ITF is an international non-profit organization voluntarily organized by the world’s distinguished urban planners, managers, researchers, scholars and experts from  around the world.

ITF is dedicated to carrying out wide-ranging research on sustainable development of towns. It is committed to building a global cooperation platform for towns and promoting cooperation between around the world in order to build better towns for better lives!

ITF will provide the following services to all its members around the world:

1. Hold international conferences to study the problems faced by towns and suggest solutions.

2. Establish a global cooperation platform for towns to share resources and complement each other’s experiences.

3. Establish a large database of global towns, provide information and intelligent services for global towns.

4. Establish a global towns happiness index evaluation system, and announce the global top 100 happiest towns every year.

5. Find sister towns for  towns around the world and establish close cooperation between them.

6. Train town builders, managers and designers.

7. Establish a towns investment fund with industry allies to provide financial industrial support for the development of towns.

8. Exchange and promote the management experience of global towns around the world, and improve the quality of life and happiness index of all towns.

9. Summarize the experiences and problems in development of towns around the world, and calling on governments to formulate policies conducive to the development of  towns.

In a word, we will try our best to provide all-round and diversified services for  the towns , build a harmonious, friendly and dynamic happy home for  the towns and let the towns all over the  world toward prosperity and happiness!

Yesterday, the ITF held a important council meeting, the assembly elected Mr. Kevin Rudd as the Chairman of the ITF and elected Mr. George Papandreou, Mr.Thomas Ridge, Professor Steven Chu, Mr. Xinli Zheng , Professor James Leckie, Professor Marcus Feldman and other distinguished people and famous experts to serve as Vice Chairman of the ITF. This marks a starting point  for global cooperation in a process of successful town development.

We extend our warm congratulations and heartfelt thanks to all the guests on their election.

Finally, I hope you all have an exciting and successful experience at this first International Towns Forum

I wish all guests good health and  happy New Year!