Brisbane in Australia, Fuzhou in China, George Town in Malaysia, Kampala in Uganda and Salvador in Brazil won the inaugural Global Award for Sustainable Development in Cities, or the Shanghai Award, on World Cities Day in Shanghai on Saturday.
The five cities were recognized for the strides and innovations they made while implementing the goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda, according to the UN Human Settlements Programme, or UN-Habitat. The program and the Shanghai government jointly presented the award.
Economic vitality and urban prosperity, ecological construction and green development, urban safety and resilience development, and capacity building for sustainable development were the four major criteria considered for prospective award winners.
Fifty-four cities from 16 developed and developing countries submitted applications for the award.
Brisbane became a laureate as it is a people-centered, innovative city that creatively combines data, technology, urban planning and robust financial and economic models with social systems.
To further improve its public transportation network, the city is delivering the turn-up-and-go Brisbane Metro, a fully electric, high-capacity bus and train system that links the city to the suburbs, operating 24 hours a day on weekends with no timetables needed.
The city is also building Kangaroo Point Green Bridge, which will connect the Kangaroo Point suburban area, eastern suburbs and the central business district to make walking or cycling between them more convenient.
George Town in Penang, Malaysia, prioritizes green connectivity projects — including pedestrian-friendly schemes, dedicated bike lanes, free shuttle bus services, intelligent parking, and urban walking and cycling — to create a convenient, integrated transportation system, and to improve urban accessibility and overall quality of life.
The city faces climate-change challenges such as higher temperatures, drought and rising sea levels. It has launched the Nature-Based Climate Adaptation Programme, in which a set of components has been implemented: increasing urban greening to reduce heat, using green corridors to manage rainwater, and strengthening social resilience and institutional capacity.
"We've since 2009 provided free bus services throughout the island to encourage people away from private to public vehicles. Other energy efficiency measures include the use of solar lights and solar roofing and rewarding residents through the green building index," said Rajendran P. Anthony, mayor of Penang.
Salvador in Brazil proposes a coordinated, goal-oriented approach and emphasizes the protection of women's rights and cultural heritage.
"Salvador is an example of a metropolis in a developing country. Our urban management practices can provide some insights with interesting and practical solutions, especially for other developing countries, and for developed ones as well," said Augusto Pestana, consul-general of Brazil in Shanghai.
Jointly hosted by China's Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, the Shanghai government and UN-Habitat, the World Cities Day China Observance has brought together 1,500 officials, scholars, and representatives from home and abroad. The event will run through Tuesday and include more than 20 sub-forums, side events and exhibitions.
"We're here providing a platform for cities to share solutions and also the journeys they've walked through and the challenges that they face. We understand that some challenges such as informal settlement, pollution and employment are shared, and the cities' officials can learn and relearn and think and rethink the way that we manage our cities," said Maimunah Mohd Sharif, under-secretary-general of the UN and executive director of UN-Habitat.
The latest edition of the Shanghai Manual, which publicizes urban development cases selected from around the world, and the Shanghai Index, which helps officials evaluate achievements and challenges in city-level sustainable development and adjust city governance priorities, were also released at the event.
Jointly developed by the Shanghai government, UN-Habitat and the Chinese housing ministry, the index is based on the Global Urban Monitoring Framework by the UN and considers economic, societal, environmental, cultural and governance factors.
The Shanghai Index is expected to carry out pilot applications at international, national and regional levels on a global scale by 2030 to form a knowledge-sharing and cooperation network regarding sustainable development for cities around the globe.