Guest Post - Warren Karlenzig

by: Heather on 03/26/2008
Posted in: Author Events

Another guest post today - this one from Warren Karlenzig, author of How Green is Your City? Thanks Warren!

I'm back from a tour of four Korean cities last week, where I lectured at universities and met with officials from Korean government interested in greening the nation's cities. I was a guest of the US Department of State and the US Embassy in Seoul.

The four-day tour included presentations at the Korea Green Foundation, Korea's largest environmental NGO ; the Korean Land Corporation, the nation's main planning and land development agency, which has responsibility for planning and designing so-called New Cities; and the Seoul Metropolitan government, which manages green programs for the fast-growing capital of 10 million.

I also lectured at Seoul National University and at Dong-a University in the southeast city of Busan, Korea's second largest metro.

My lectures and meetings focused on metrics and best practices from How Green is Your City?, which ranks the largest 50 US cities according to 15 sustainability criteria, including use of renewable energy; green buildings per capita; local food; planning and land use; public transit use; air and water quality; recycling; and other innovation and management criteria.

The Korean response was enthusiastic. Many including mayors and city managers expressed thanks to learn how the North American definition of a green city expands far beyond acquiring more parks and green space--the emphasis of Korean green city programs up until this point.

Each day I presented, I described how oil prices were at their highest price in modern history, and how we as a society across the modern industrialized world are faced with two futures. The hopeful future embraces traditional cities as a developmental model with higher density, public attractions, schools and local food all easily accessible by transit, bike or foot.

The risky future continues a trend of building sprawled metros with separate areas for retail, homes and malls, making all activities completely dependent upon the personal automobile.

In the future, I have been invited to help Korea develop a set of indicators for the nation's cities by the Korea Land Corporation, and will likely collaborate on other projects including Changwon, an entire "Eco-City" of 500,000 and a "green arts & culture" neighborhood being planned near the campus of Seoul National University.

I also was invited by Yol Choi, the director of the Korea Green Foundation to join that NGO's advisory panel, which now includes Jane Goodall, Lester Brown and one of my mentors, Helena Norberg-Hodge.

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