Addressing the opening ceremony of the Taipei Healthy Cities Leaders Roundtable and International Healthy Cities Conference, Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday shared Taipei's efforts to create a healthier environment, including its trash reduction program and waste-water plan, and cyberspace and transportation systems.
"I believe that every one of you represented here have similar stories to tell ? I think this is a great opportunity for us, for everyone here willing to speak out, to tell us how, and in what special way you could make your city healthier," he said.
The conference began yesterday as mayors, city representatives and academics from 46 cities in 28 nations gathered to exchange ideas and explore issues such as public safety and community engagement during the three-day event.
Later in the afternoon, Ma and the mayor of Yokohama, Japan exchanged ideas on the importance of public participation in creating a healthier city.
As Japan's second largest city, Yokohama Mayor Hiroshi Nakada said Yokohama had successfully differentiated itself away from being a part of Metropolitan Tokyo and had created an independent city by encouraging participation of all kinds.
"In addition to improving transportation by extending the Tokyo subway to the city, we have also viewed private enterprises as citizens, and attracted them to move their headquarters here by providing benefits such as tax cuts," he said.
Thanks to the strategy, many private enterprises, such as Nissan Motor Co, Ltd, have moved their headquarters to Yokohama and contributed to greater economic self-reliance in the city, Nakada said.
While sharing what Ma described as "striking similarities" with Yokohama, such as financial difficulties as a municipal government and the necessity of urban planning, Taipei seemed to be lagging Yokohama in terms of attracting private enterprises.
Ma said the best strategy for Taipei, and even Taiwan was not to limit its market, but rather to open the "three links" across the Taiwan Strait, and make Taiwan a gangway for the East Asia area.
In addition to economic stimulation, the two mayors agreed that the development of culture and the performing arts are also important elements for a healthy city.
But with people as the central focus of a healthy city, they said, it was critical to inspire all citizens to engage in promoting municipal improvements by communicating directly with them.