The Sustainable Silk Roads forum, held in Edinburgh, Scotland October 4th and 5th, introduced the World Alliance for Low Carbon Cities (WALCC) to a new network of experts in partnering with the China-Britain Business Council (CBBC), the Edinburgh Center for Carbon Innovation (ECCI), and the University of Edinburgh’s Confucius Institute. The combined expertise of these organizations brought a wealth of insight on Sino-European business and trade, and low-carbon development which readily complemented the WALCC’s traditional strongholds and its focus on sustainability and international cooperation.

The forum was noted for the breadth of perspectives it brought on its twin focuses low-carbon innovation and the development of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Within these focuses, the forum offered perspectives on the current state of progress in smart data and mobility, energy, and water, as well as a thorough assessment of the BRI and its impact on global sustainability, and the opportunities for low-carbon innovation it brings about. The forum’s opening, chaired together by the WALCC’s outgoing Chairman Professor Kang Feiyu, past-WALCC forum speaker Natascha Gentz of the University of Edinburgh, as well as dignitaries from the University, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Timothy O’Shea, China’s UK embassy, M.C: Jin Xu of the embassy’s Economic and Commercial affairs department, the City of Edinburgh, Lord Provost Frank Ross, and the CBBC, Chief Executive Matthew Rous. Following this opening, the forum’s first morning was marked by a notable key note address from former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who offered a considered and remarkably informative overview of the evolution of Sino-European relations and its significance in shaping the economic and political future of both Europe and China.

Over the course of its two day span, the forum engaged participants in thought and discussion through a series of thematically focused workshops and panel discussions which explored the central themes with the aid of a roster of experts in these fields who brought knowledge in their respective areas to thoughtful exchanges which considered the lessons learned from past experiences across the globe—speakers offering a representative overview of achievements and learnings from North America, Europe, and Asia.

In addition to the opening address, the WALCC was represented at the forum by its newly appointed Chairman Professor Kong Ying, who joined a special panel on the financing of the BRI and also spoke about his Tsinghua University research team’s findings on urban mobility patterns in Chinese cities, Deputy Secretary-General Jussi Hulkkonen who presented the Alliance’s recent work in the field of mobility. Among the WALCC’s member organizations speaking at the forum were, founding member organization Synocus, whose Managing Partner Johan Wallin spoke on the challenges facing cities as they strive to improve their sustainability, as well as member organizations Fortum, whose Vice President of Investments Pasi Mikkonen spoke about the company’s extensive experience in the area of heating and power innovation, Enesoon, whose Chairman Zeng Zhiyong joined Pasi Mikkonen on the Energy panel.

The forum was closed by addresses from the organizers and supporters as well as the WALCC’s new Chairman Prof. Kong Ying, who welcomed the attendees to join the WALCC in Tengchong in the Yunnan Province for the Alliance’s next forum in the spring of 2018. Please visit the forum’s website to view photos from the event.

Follow our website for upcoming announcements regarding the spring forum and for more material from the Edinburgh forum. 

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Reframing City Districts (ReCiDi)

A research project conducted by the Universities of Turku and Tampere which aims to form a new conceptual framework which will help shape the collective identity and common vision necessary to realize the future low-carbon and sustainability targets.

Systemic Architectures for Sustainable Urban Innovation (SASUI)

An action learning and research project conducted by Aalto University and the University of Tampere which aimed to form a better understanding of the architectural requirements for successful innovation projects.