World mayors exchange ideas in Beijing
More than 300 local government leaders from around the world are gathering in Beijing for the World Mayors Forum which opens today. Top of the agenda are discussions on coping with natural and man-made disasters and how best to meet the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals.
"We also want to push for more international co-operation and discuss different ways of achieving local government goals through international co-operation.
"Most of all, we want this to be a chance for mayors around the world to gain more understanding of China," he said.
Founded last year, it is the first time the World Organization of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) has held its mayors' forum in China.
French delegate Georges Morin, deputy mayor of Gieres and vice-president of Cites Unies France (United Cities of France), was eager to learn from local government officials from China and around the world.
"It will benefit cities for their mayors and administrators to sit down for an exchange. It is a great opportunity to be here in Beijing and to discuss the goal of local government exchanges," he said.
Morin added that the China-France Culture Year has so far been a successful example of cultural exchange between international cities.
The CPAFFC's Chen, who is also vice-president of UCLG, said more public participation would be encouraged in local government-to-local government exchange programmes.
"In the China-France Culture Year, women from China have given street performances in Paris and the giant bell from the Bastille is now on display in Beijing. This is the first time it has ever left France, and now every Beijing citizen can go and see it."
Chen said the forum is being held in preparation for the Millennium Summit review in New York in September. At that meeting, UCLG will be advocating the creation of an officially recognized advisory role for local governments in the UN.
The UN Millennium Development Goal has pledged development on a wide range of topics including poverty reduction, gender equality, children's rights, and disaster management. Some of these points have been listed on the agenda of the Beijing forum.
"Local governments are closer to the people. They have to deal directly with issues like employment and public welfare. Because they can more easily pick up on public feeling, they provide a bridge between central governments and ordinary people," Chen said.
(China Daily 06/09/2005 page2)