Taoyuan City Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan attended the 2021 Asia Pacific Cities Summit (APCS) organized by Brisbane, Australia virtually on September 8. Along with more than 30 leaders of cities across the Asia Pacific, Mayor Cheng shared Taoyuan's experience of sustainable city development, green transportation, and smart governance under the theme of "Redefining Cites through Opportunities and Challenges."
Celebrating its 13th anniversary this year, the APCS has demonstrated a proven track record of gathering more than 130 city delegates each year and has become one of the most important platforms for city exchanges in the world. Affected by the global pandemic, this year's event was organized in a hybrid format that saw the participation of 74 cities from New Zealand, the UK, Japan, South Korea, China, Palestine, Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan, and so on. Under the four pillars of Healthy Cities, Vibrant Cities, Connected Cities, and Intelligent Cities, the city leaders discussed the opportunities and challenges for city governance in the post-pandemic era.
Joined by Mayor Andy Foster of Wellington City from New Zealand and Deputy Mayor Sarah Race of Shire of Mornington Peninsula from Australia in the group discussion under the Mayors' Forum today, Mayor Cheng engaged in an exchange of ideas on the challenges and experiences of city governance in the fields of social housing, green transportation, innovative industries, smart city, and livable city.
“Taoyuan is a fast-developing city with a very young population.” Mayor Cheng mentioned. “During my term as the mayor over the last 7 years, 220,000 people have been added to Taoyuan’s population, leading to new needs for the city's development of transportation infrastructure, urban planning, and industrial investment.” "Our city has incorporated the concept of circular economy and SDGs into our city plans, and we have published a Voluntary Local Review Report to measure our progress," Mayor Cheng added.
To cater to the needs of its citizens of different age groups, Taoyuan is dedicated to the enhancement of its public services by offering more social housing units, public kindergartens, and other types of social welfare facilities. Facing the surge of housing prices, Taoyuan prioritizes the development of railway infrastructure projects such as the metro system and railway network expansion to connect future urban areas that will help diverge the population and ultimately curb the housing prices.
"Home to 12,000 factories across various industrial sectors, Taoyuan has formulated policies to recycle wastes and is building a large biomass energy center that will help turn family kitchen waste into organic fertilizers," said Mayor Cheng.
With three of Taiwan's major electric scooter manufacturers operating in the city, Taoyuan has the highest growth rate of electric scooters in Taiwan. Taoyuan also provides subsidies for companies transitioning from coal or oil-fired furnaces to natural gas. Through policies that foster a circular economy and a low-carbon environment, Taoyuan aims to usher in smart governance for its citizens.
When asked to talk about the challenges faced by the city, Mayor Cheng underpinned four major issues: public transportation, housing demand, climate change, and coastal protection.
Afforded with the comprehensive network of highways, a railway, and the metro system that connects to New Taipei City and Taipei City within one hour, Taoyuan's fast-growing development means more efforts are required to encourage the use of public transportation instead of private cars.
Although Taoyuan's housing prices are only a quarter of those reported in Taipei City, the pandemic has caused prices to surge as well. "Taoyuan offers 12,000 social housing units and rent subsidies for young people and disadvantaged families," Mayor Cheng noted.
Climate change spares no region. As stated by Mayor Cheng, Taiwan experienced the worst drought in history last year, but the typhoons this year have produced higher amounts of rainfall than those in the past few years. He then pointed out the focus that the city has given to river management and disaster prevention.
With a coastline of 46 kilometers, Taoyuan has designated four preservation areas to protect its wetland, algal reef, and coastal sand dunes. Mayor Cheng hopes to be able to lend more support to coastal protection.
Mayor Cheng is also one of the speakers in the session of "Connected Cities - Redefining connections and movement" that will take place on September 10. In his pre-recorded speech, he will share Taoyuan's implementation of low-carbon policies such as EcoLogisitics and green transportation and provide the city's vision of Taoyuan Aerotropolis.
As stated by Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner of Brisbane, the host city of this year's APCS, cities big and small are bearing the brunt of the pandemic. With stores closing down, citizens' livelihoods hanging by a thread, and social inequality exacerbated, it is up to city leaders to come up with plans to usher their citizens into a better future. The challenge of the pandemic can be viewed as an opportunity to redefine cities and change the way people do things. He hopes that this year's summit will help spark different ideas allowing cities to respond to social changes during the pandemic. He believes that this will also help the City of Brisbane gain strengths as it leads into the 2032 Olympics.