"China is a much more advanced digital economy compared to 2012 when I visited China last time. Although this is only my second day in Guangzhou, I can feel that the communication and management of the city are very automatized and digitalized. And I cannot wait to try some Cantonese food," said Jordi Vaquer, the Secretary General of Metropolis, at the 20th Urban Innovation Forum jointly held by The Office of Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation (Guangzhou Award) and Guangzhou Library on March 27th.
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With the theme "Transforming Our World: The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda", this forum is being held to promote the concept of urban innovation and the Guangzhou Award to the public.
"One of my motivations for this trip is to learn not only about Guangzhou, but also about the outline development plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA). This plan is very interesting because it brings together cities on a scale that has never been seen before. This area will become one of the largest urban concentrations in the world, so I want to understand how this is happening and how this is being planned and organized," Vaquer said when revealing his expectation on the development of the GBA.
In the forum, Jordi Vaquer also introduced the background and basis of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda, as well as the main content and practical significance of the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda.
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As the co-presidency city of Metropolis, Guangzhou is responsible for the metropolitan innovation portfolio and hosts the Metropolis Regional Secretariat for Asia and the Pacific.
"Guangzhou has been a pioneer in internationalization with more than 1,000 years of history and global outreach among all Chinese cities. What is interesting is that Guangzhou concentrates on very diverse assets and industries, and it is a powerful financial and trade hub. From here, you can cover half of the world’s population within a 5-hour flight," said Jordi Vaquer.
He believes that Guangzhou is significant for the entire world, not just for China and Asia, and that it plays a role that transcends borders.
When it comes to Guangzhou’s contribution to the development and innovation of world metropolises, Jordi Vaquer said that America and Europe are looking very closely at the innovations of Chinese cities, and Guangzhou is a prime example.
"For me, what makes Guangzhou stand out is that the innovation here is not confined to one particular sector. It incorporates the philosophy and the culture of innovation across urban management. This is more important than just the achievement in digitalization and others. Through the Guangzhou Award, this city is explaining and showing these innovations in ways that other parts of the world can also understand and adapt," he explained.
The 6th Guangzhou Award was launched in February in Barcelona to collect good examples of city management and innovation from cities worldwide.
Vaquer believes that the 6th Guangzhou Award will be an unprecedented edition in terms of the number of submissions. "I think that the Guangzhou Award has now captured the global imagination. This will be a very creative edition of the awards because we have gone through the pandemic, and cities are now looking for recoveries that will be resilient and sustainable."
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