From October 13-November 2nd 2019, David Saah Nyumah, National Director of Liberia, represented ISEC at the Workshop on Planning for Greener Cities and South-South Cooperation in Africa in Shanghai, China. Here is a bit about what he learned.
It’s not often we hear favorable things about China’s path to urban development and technological advancements. What’s even less apparent is their contributions to sustainable development and green urban planning globally. It’s clear that China is the largest developing country, but her commitment to her international responsibilities, climate governance and sustainable urbanization remains quite a priority. China has for sometime taken a major step to alleviate poverty, and at the same time develop their rural spaces to green urban areas.
For once, I had no thought of what my experiences would be, and how impactful the journey would turn. Fast-forward, all my desires for attending the MOST workshop were met, and added. It was three weeks full of knowledge sharing, team building, networking, field trips and great new experiences. I got the chance to listen and interact firsthand with great professors that are doing amazing works to foster environmental development and sustainability globally. The awesome participants, friendly organizers and students of the Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Tongji University made my experience unique, as the exchanges we had made so much impact in my growth and understanding of green urbanization and the South-South corporation.
For an instance, we(participants) counter argued and give our views on the many challenges of environmental degradation faced by almost all of the countries within the South-South Corporation. To some extent, we read critical scientific reports and solution model for some of these challenges, but it remains clear that enough is not being done through political will and governance to promote environmental sustainability through the South-South Corporation. What caught my attention more was when Professor Tao Te Chin, a proxy instructor said “climate change is not a problem to the planet, but rather ourselves”. This brought to me that more and more has to be done through our little efforts in our everyday lives to contribute to global environmental sustainability.
Considering this, China has developed her own model of mainstreaming sustainability in both long and short term development plans. I also got in depth understanding about the UNCCD’s role in curbing deforestation in Sub-saharan Africa, and its major priorities from Mr. Youlin Yang-Former Regional Coordinator of Asia-Pacific Regional Coordination Unit. I got a clearer understanding that desert has an economic value, and China is making the most out of it to yield economic gains-Gobi Desert. I learned that you’ll have to consider precaution, rehabilitation and utilization in order to sustainably manage a desert. This model, which should be used more in the sub-saharan Africa region is yet to be considered.
Mr. Fabio M. Montagnino, a physicist from Italy taught about cooling the cities: the uprising challenge of generating sustainable cold and mitigating the urban heat islands as a priority for achieving energy efficiency for greener cities globally. This method is much cheaper and saves the environment and human health, as the rising demand to cool our spaces become more and more unprecedented. We were informed of China’s green innovation zone: Taiyun, Schezen, and Guilian-demonstration areas that show China’s commitment to green urban development.
Over all, all of the lessons and interactions were meaningful and impactful. The colorful part of our my experience was the field trips, tasty Chinese food, and sight-seeing. I still have with me the memories from the Zhouzhuang Water Town and the Suzhou museum. What’s left now? It’s high times we kept our hopes alive and deepened our relationships within the South-South Corporation to achieve our desired objectives. We are looking forward to more partnership through the South- South corporation.