Mayors summit willBy Lori Tighe
be an annual event
For every child born, the people in Waitakere, New Zealand, plant a new tree in a public place.
Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey shared that with mayors from 27 countries. The mayors of 10 cities, including Honolulu, committed to doing the same.
The give and take of environmental solutions flowed throughout the first ever Mayors' Asia-Pacific Environmental Summit in Honolulu, which ends today.
Because the summit was so successful, the 300-plus delegates moved to make it an annual event. They appointed Mayor Jeremy Harris to organize future events.
"I think it was a superb summit," said Ahmed Hassan, "Lord Mayor" from Lahore, Pakistan.
"We heard a lot of success stories from cities and how people have come to deal with their problems. We feel we need more of these summits."
Sanitation is Lahore's biggest problem, and the mayor learned how to "properly handle financial governance and resources."
Philip Taku, governor of Port Moresby, capital of Papua New Guinea, said his city's biggest problem is water pollution from mining.
"The summit has exposed us to environmental issues. We have learned from the experiences of others. It will help us plan to minimize destruction of the environment."
The delegates each stood at the conference podium at the Hilton Hawaiian Village and told attendees the new commitments they would put in place this year.
The mayor of Santa Monica, Calif., committed to having an all-electric bus fleet.
A Seattle councilman vowed to reduce the city's water usage by 1 percent a year over the next 10 years.
A city near Seoul declared an annual Asia-Pacific environment day for all residents to do something positive for their surroundings.
It is possible to turn dirty cities around, said David Crockett, descendant of American pioneer Davy Crockett and president of the Chattanooga Institute, which helps build sustainable communities and companies.
Chattanooga, Tenn., was considered America's most polluted city in 1969. It cleaned up and today has the largest fleet of electric buses in the country.
"Chattanooga has come a long way. When it was America's dirtiest city it had lost its will and spirit," Crockett said. Through its environmental makeover, the city has become a tourist destination of the south.