City wins Habitat Scroll of Honor Award 2007
By Wang Yi
Updated: 2007-10-31 07:14

Nanning, capital of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in South China, has been granted the Habitat Scroll of Honor Award 2007. It is one of the only two city winners worldwide this year.

The Habitat Scroll of Honor, established in 1989 by the United Nations General Assembly to raise awareness about the state of human settlements, is awarded on World Habitat Day - the first Monday of each October.

"This is the most prestigious award given by the United Nations in recognition of work carried out in the field of human settlement development. The aim of the Habitat Scroll of Honor award is to recognize individuals and institutions instrumental in improving living conditions in urban centers around the world," UN-HABITAT quoted its Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka as saying on its official website.

Nanning tops the winners' list released in September, which includes two municipal governments, two institutions, one project and two individuals. The other city to have won the honor is Stavropol in Russia.

This year's Honor Awards focus more on effective, long-term and sustainable measures adopted to improve human living conditions, Tibaijuka said in her letter addressed to Chen Xiangqun, mayor of Nanning.

The panel of judges was unanimous in its decision that the Nanning municipal government be given the award for launching China's first integrated city emergency response system.

The system, put into operation in May 2005, streamlines under one network the entire city's police and fire emergencies, paramedic ambulance response and traffic accident reporting systems, along with 30 other non-emergency public services that were previously managed by a variety of different administrative departments.

Touted as a model for the safer Asian cities program launched by UN Habitat agency, the system echoes the theme of World Habitat Day 2007 - "A safe city is just a city."

Promotion of urban safety "is not primarily about policing and relying on the penal system for crime prevention; it is about the design and planning of public space for women and men, and its impact on social urban development," Tibaijuka noted.

Mayor Chen headed a mission that attended the awards ceremony held in early October in Monterrey, Mexico.

The award marks a milestone in Nanning's urban development, said Qian Xueming, vice-mayor of the city.

Building a safe, just and sustainable environment has long been listed as a priority by the city government, he pointed out.

From 2002 in particular, the government has campaigned for a mass renovation and construction project, seeking to address the housing issues of locals.

With 60 grass-covered public squares, a 93-hectare forest park and a museum park featuring various species of precious trees, Nanning now boasts over 12 sq m of per capita green land area.

In addition to the integrated emergency response system, the city has also helped more than 30,000 medium and low-income households out of housing difficulties and improved their living conditions.

Mayor Chen said his government will continue its efforts to build Nanning into an eco-friendly, safer and harmonious city.

Apart from Nanning, seven Chinese cities have won the honor in the past. They are Tangshan (1990), Hangzhou (2001), Baotou (2002), Weihai (2003), Xiamen (2004), Yantai (2005) and Yangzhou (2006).

(China Daily 10/31/2007 page18)