CityNet has been facilitating the virtual knowledge exchange activities between Taichung and Prato through the EU funded ICP-AGIR project since last February. Although the two cities have met 9 times through virtual bilateral meetings, they were finally able to meet in person during Prato’s study visit to Taichung from 12-15 February 2023.
The delegates from Prato, led by the Mayor of Prato, Mr. Matteo Biffoni, were welcomed by the Deputy Mayor of Taichung, Ms. Yu-Min Wang. The cities both committed to future cooperation, particularly on the topics of urban greening and circular economy in textile industries. Mr. Filip Grzegorzewski, the Head of Office of the European Economic & Trade Office located in Taipei, welcomed both delegations through a pre-recorded video. He shared his hopes that the two cities would cooperate together to accelerate the EU agenda for climate-neutral cities and to reach the targets set out by the EU Green Deal. Mr. Ramon Lopez Sanchez underlined from the European Commission how, despite how different Taichung and Prato are, they are facing the same problems, and the importance of common challenges is why the EU places such a great importance on programmes like this.
Throughout the 3-day visit programme, Taichung showcased several best practices from the city. On the first day, the delegates visited the sunken ecological flood detention park named Maple Garden, and the Heart Valley, located in the centre of the park, is a platform to develop an interesting, educational venue for the public to learn about the UN Sustainable Goals and ESG values. Through the discussion held at Heart Valley, the delegations discussed the potential of exchanging experience and collaborating in environmental education through the SDGs Board Game developed by Heart Valley. The first day was closed off with the study visit to the Treasure Dragon Corporation’s construction site named Aizhen Mansion Collective Housing, a best urban practice on utilization of greening on the construction walls.
Prato specializes in the recycling of textiles, recycling 15% of the second-hand clothes worldwide, with a long history and expertise in this field. To match their common interest in the circular economy industry, Taichung invited the Prato delegates to visit Tzu Chi Foundation on the second day, which is a foundation that innovatively recycles PET bottles into various products like clothes, blankets and bags, etc. The Foundation receives all the profit from DAAI Technology as donations for use on the disaster relief activities to help people in need, regardless of their nationalities.
On the last day of the visit, the delegates visited the Central Taiwan Science Park (CTSP), an industrial park in which many leading global technology companies build factories. The park sets high standards on its wastewater emission through its AI Sanitary Sewer Patent. With smart technology, they are able to improve the efficiency of the water treatment, monitor water quality and disclose the real-time discharged water data on the website. The point that received the most attention from the Prato delegates was the creative use of sludge as educational material or construction material, as Italy is not allowed to reuse the sludge according to legislation, citing safety concerns. However, there is the possibility that provision of enough proof and research data to the legislation may be grounds to call for a revision of the laws. This was highlighted as another potential point of cooperation for Prato and Taichung.
The study visit was concluded with the workshop on environmental sustainability and circular economy, where speakers from Taichung and Prato shared best practices. From Prato’s side, the Deputy Mayor for Circular Economy in Prato shared experiences from Prato’s Forest City and Urban Jungle Project. From Taichung’s side, Taichung City Government, Treasure Dragon Corporation and DAAI Technology shared the city’s experiences in livable buildings and vertical green balconies, green construction walls, and the recycling of PET bottles.
Hui Qian is a Program Officer at CityNet, where she manages outreach and CityNet Services. Prior joining CityNet, she had worked at ICLEI East Asia Secretariat, with a focus on city-scale research and projects. Hui has a background of Sustainability Science and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Compilation. She obtained a Master of Science in International Cooperation Policy from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (Japan) and a Master of Engineering in International Material Flow Management from Hochschule Trier (Germany). She is experienced in working under multicultural environment with multidisciplinary cooperation.