|Forum participants listen to a speech at the 7th Silk Road Mayors’ Forum in Gaziantep, Turkey, November 2012. |
(Yeosu City Government)
The southwestern port city of Yeosu, South Jeolla Province, will host a forum of mayors from global cities located along the Silk Road this week to promote cooperation in economy, culture, tourism and the environment.
About 300 people including mayors from 70 cities in 30 countries, representatives of international bodies and civil society experts will participate in the Silk Road Mayors Forum from Monday to Thursday.
The Silk Road is a series of ancient land and sea trade routes that crisscrossed Eurasia and served as the link between the East and the West.
The mayors’ forum was launched in 2006 under the auspices of the United Nations Development Program and the nongovernmental World Citizens Organization to boost exchanges and development of cities along the Silk Road and its adjacencies.
Now in its eighth year, the forum in Yeosu will also highlight the historic value and contemporary meaning of the maritime Silk Road, the organizer said.
“With this forum, Yeosu City hopes to illuminate the history of civilizations and human exchanges through the Silk Road and will embark on a new era of the sea-based Silk Road with Yeosu as its starting point,” the city government said in a statement.
Under the theme of “Harmony of Global Civilization and New Silk Road,” the Yeosu forum will consist of three main sessions, dealing with citizens’ participation in cultivating a “Silk Road Spirit,” educational tourism and heritage preservation, and global infrastructure development.
The forum plans to adopt a statement to call for boosting cooperation and diversifying exchanges among the cities beyond their national, racial and religious barriers.
The mayors will also display their resolve to contributing to world peace, better understanding among cultures, economic development and environmental protection.
The first forum was held in 2006 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, followed by Lanzhou, China, in 2007; Almaty, Kazakhstan, in 2008; Pyeongtaek, South Korea, in 2009; Shiraz, Iran, in 2010; Grozny, Chechnya, in 2011; and Gaziantep, Turkey, in 2012.
|Participants attend the 7th Silk Road Mayors’ Forum held in Gaziantep, Turkey, in November 2012.|
(Yeosu City Government)
While earlier forums mainly focused on environmental sustainability and heritage preservation through educational tourism, the agenda has gradually expanded, said Kwaak Young-hoon, president of the World Citizens Organization.
“From the seventh forum, we started to focus on ‘glocalization,’ or globalization upon the uniqueness of local communities. We realized that (having) the same style of modernization was meaningless and that keeping (each city’s) own uniqueness was necessary,” Kwaak said.
The organization, founded in 1987, works for the enhancement of global citizen education, cultural and economic cooperation.
The forum has also championed a new paradigm of city management called “servanance,” which says that the community is not something to be governed, but to be served.
Further development of glocalization and servanance will be among the main agendas in Yeosu, according to Kwaak.
Yeosu, which means “clear water,” is famous for beautiful views and warm weather. The 502-square-kilometer city is home to 290,000 citizens and more than 300 islands, of which 269 are unnamed.
The city gained prominence worldwide by successfully hosting the International Exposition in 2012.
Yeosu was chosen as the host city in recognition of the city’s historical importance and its experience of organizing the 2012 event.
The city is planning to create an international cruise marina complex around the expo area along with other specialized facilities.
It is also considering establishing a cruise route, linking with other cities as part of efforts to attract tourists.
Connecting all the small islands with bridges designed in different styles, the city is also planning various leisure and tourist programs.
“The city will begin a new history of mankind’s maritime culture, and start the new age of the Silk Road with our vision as the ‘capital of international tourism, leisure and culture’ by 2020,” said Yeosu Mayor Kim Chung-seog.
During the opening ceremony on Tuesday, Prime Minister Chung Hong-won and Minister of Security and Public Administration Yoo Jeong-bok are to send congratulatory video messages.
Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Yoon Jin-sook and Governor of South Jeolla Province Park Joon-yung, Mayor Asim Guzelbey of Gaziantep, Turkey, and other high-ranking officials will make congratulatory speeches.
Keynote speakers are former Minister of Education Lee Myung-hyun, head of the Chinese delegation to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization Liang Dan, and United Nation Association of Korea vice chairman Lee Seo-hang.
The first session, “Expanding Governance and Citizen Participation to Foster the Positive Spirit of Silk Road,” will be chaired by WCO secretary Wojciech Marek Hubner.
The second session, “Educational Tourism Development and Silk Road Culture & Heritage Preservation,” will be led by Hong Kong-based Silk Road Hotel Management chairman Peter Wong Man Kong.
On Wednesday, the third session, “Global Infrastructure Development through Land and Sea Silk Road,” will be presided over by Yamamoto Norio, the chairman of WCO-SRMF.
Yeosu Mayor Kim plans to make a presentation in the third session on the vision of enhancing the Silk Road city networks and plans to develop the host city into one of the world’s four most scenic harbor cities by 2020.
“Through the creation of a human network and the extension of economic, cultural exchanges between world cities, Yeosu will accelerate its mid- to long-term development plan to become an international marine city,“ the city government said.
By Lee Hyun-jeong (firstname.lastname@example.org)