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What Did the Jury Say about the Winning Cities?

2018-12-14

The Jury of the 4th Guangzhou Award

With their excellent initiatives, Milan, Guadalajara, Wuhan, Mezitli and New York City emerged from the 15 shortlisted cities as the winners of the 4th edition of the Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation. Here is what the Jury said about them.

Milan, Italy

Milan Food Policy: An Innovative Framework for Making Urban Food System More Sustainable, Inclusive

Located in northern Italy, Milan is the second largest city in the country with a population of approximately 1,300,000 inhabitants.

In the process of setting the theme "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" for the Universal Exhibition, hosted in the city in 2015, the municipality of Milan decided to create the Food Policy as legacy of the event. The Milan Food Policy is an innovative planning strategy integrating and implementing a "Food Cycle System" throughout the city. A key innovation in the Policy is the new model of governance combining the Global scale with an Urban level which is based on an integrated cross-sectoral approach among public agencies, social organizations, research bodies and the private sector. Since 2016 The Milan Food Policy has been working to put into effect its five priorities:

  1. Access to healthy food for all;

  2. Sustainable food production;

  3. Food education and awareness;

  4. Food losses and waste management;

  5. Scientific research promotion.

It has now a strong world-wide network of 179 signatory cities. 

This initiative is relevant to SDGs 2, 11 and 12.


Guadalajara, Mexico

Citizen-Led Metropolitan Coordination of Guadalajara

Starting in the 1990s, the citizens of Mexico’s Jalisco State watched as its population consumed land twice as fast as the rate of population growth. Facing massive sprawl, runaway public service costs and more, they convinced their political leaders to pass legislation to form acitizen-focused, politically integrated, technically competent metropolitan governance scheme. 

This body has jurisdiction over some 3,400 square kilometres – an area 5 times the size of Singapore; brings together nine municipalities, and encompasses a population of 4.5 million. It is empowered and funded to pursue sustainable urban development effectively, efficiently, and equitably. Proof is: within two years of its creation, it had engaged in a highly participatory process to develop territorial and land use plans to be implemented by its nine municipalities. It established processes to address fiscal inequities, and adopted transparent indicators to monitor progress. 

Today, it is rolling out other supportive programs to promote the balanced territorial development called for by SDG 11 while touching 14 other SDGs. As an effort unique to Mexico (and rare throughout the world), “Citizen-Led Metropolitan Co-ordination of Guadalajara” is innovative and inspirational … and most notably institutionalized – it hasmuch to share with other rapidly urbanizing places.


Wuhan, China

Wuhan: The Rebirth of Urban Waste Dump – The Ecological Restoration Bridging the Social Gaps

Wuhan has a population of about 11 million people and a land area of approximately 8,600 square kilometres. When the City of Wuhan was asked to host a national garden expo in 2015, it decided to locate the expo and its accompanying garden in the ugliest and most polluted corner of their city and transformed it into a recreational area.

The restoration of Jinkou Landfill and the polluted Zhanggong Dyke solved one of the most important ecological and urban problems that had troubled Wuhan for decades. Wuhan restoration is the largest application of aerobiotic technology for landfill remediation and the biggest ecological bridge in China. The landfill contained some 5 million cubic meters of waste, which is basically the equivalent of 60 football fields, and had generated leachate that had turned the pond toxic. The landfill was also abreeding ground for vermin, flies and mosquitoes. Life for the local residents was unbearable and those who could, moved away.

The success of the transformation created anecological belt of over 170 square kilometres. It reduced pollution and linked up the once unbearable sight of Zhanggong Dyke to provide an urban forest park for pedestrians and cyclists. An unexpected outcome was the return of wildlife.The park has now become self-financing owing to the integration of commercial activities and incubator for new enterprises. The transformation of the landfill project also managed to reduce inequalities and promoted social cohesion for the nearly 400,000 inhabitants as it drastically improved their living condition.

Apart from involvement from government departments and experts from multiple cities of China and a dozen other countries, the inhabitants of Wuhan were mobilized to participate in the project. The funding for the transformation of the landfill also came from individuals who contributed towards the works to turn the landfill into a park.

Other cities can learn from this project on how to transform polluted landfills and waterways into parks and pedestrian walkways and bicycle lanes by turning a “grey belt” into a “green belt” and improve the quality of life in the city. The restoration of one of the largest landfills in Asia, turned out to be the most charming recreational park and ecological garden.


Mezitli, Turkey
Mezitli Women Producers Market

The jury decided to give one of the awards to a smaller city which suffers the current serious fugitive crises. It officially houses a quarter of its inhabitants being Syrian, unofficially many more.

The Mezitli Women Producers Market in Turkey isdirected towards especially vulnerable women who are denied access to employment, economic resources and security.

The city installed a growing number of women producer markets and organized by them with great success. More than six thousand women are included to date. 

Without the City’s activity the project would not have been possible as the local economy was previously dominated by men.

  • The project supports an environmentally friendly, small scale and sustainable trade based on locally produced mainly organic food, handmade products and handicrafts;

  • The market provides healthy food in kindergartens;

  • Employment rate increases and poverty is mitigated;

  • Women of different ethnic, educational and socio-economic backgrounds become creative and active. They acquire knowledge, develop ownership and financial independence. Gender equality is promoted by ending dependence.

We congratulate the city of Mezitli and theWomen and advise them to take girls and boys into the project to educate them towards understanding of gender equity for a better future.


NewYork City, USA
Global Vision | Urban Action: New York City’s Voluntary Local Review (VLR) ofthe Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Shows Local Progress for Global Action

The SDGs provide the roadmap to achieve the global goal of sustainable development. Analysis has shown that two-thirds of the SDGs will need to be implemented at the local level. The 15 shortlisted cities provide ample evidence of the important role of cities.

New York City connects its own strategic vision, One NYC, to the SDGs. In doing so, it developed a tool that New York City is sharing with all cities. While the United Nations calls for memberstates to submit Voluntary National Reports on progress in the implementation of the SDGs, New York City submitted in July 2018 a Voluntary Local Review (VLR), the first city ever to do so.

This shows the strong will of New York City that the city will make the best efforts possible to achieve the SDGs and to help other cities in their respective efforts.

New York’s Voluntary Local Review will no doubt motivate other cities to follow up on the SDGs, and at the same time, it shows an effective model to do so.