Seoul will host the headquarters of CITYNET, an international organization of Asia-Pacific cities for sustainable development this month, an official said.
CITYNET is a regional network of local authorities committed to improving the sustainability of human settlements. The secretariat office will relocate from Yokohama to Seoul with the opening ceremony scheduled for March 26, and Mayor Park Won-soon will take office as president in November, he said.
“Holding a general council in early November, Mayor Park is to take office as president of the organization,” said Choi Kyeng-ju, director at the international relations division.
The international organization was established in 1987 with the support of the United Nations. Its secretariat office has been in the Japanese city since 1992.
Around 130 members ― including Ho Chi Minh, Yokohama, Bangkok and Lyon, as well as NGOs and development authorities ― work together for sustainable city development, exchange information and run education programs on municipal administration.
On the opening day, Park is expected to discuss the direction and vision of the organization with municipal and NGO leaders and experts.
The mayor of the secretariat city takes the presidency of CITYNET, according to the organization’s customary rules.
While it is a good opportunity for Seoul to build networks with other members and promote a good image of Seoul, private firms could penetrate markets abroad more easily, according to the city government.
“The city’s electronic governance, easy-to-use transportation and smart cards, food-waste metering system, and waste recycling could be exemplary models for developing nations in Southeast Asia, where those systems and expertise are highly needed,” Choi said.
Seoul opened the organization’s secretariat office in 2009 when former Mayor Oh Se-hoon was in office during the 6th general council of CITYNET.
In 1995, CITYNET was granted consultative status with the Economic and Social Council at the United Nations.
Each member contributes 10 million won ($9,200) as a membership fee while Seoul as the secretariat city will pay 400 million won for around five years, according to the city official, until the office settles in the city.
“Although Seoul faced some hurdles, such as Yokohama’s resistance in the final stage of preparation for moving the secretariat, it will finally open the office.” Choi said.
Seoul currently has six offices for international organizations including the International Bar Association, World e-governments Organization of Cities and Local Governments and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org