New Taipei City is Accelerating Sustainable Development

Sustainable development does not come with a one-size-fits-all roadmap. Rather, international collaboration based on local actions and conditions is paramount to achieving global sustainability. As a part of their sustainability and inclusivity efforts, cities across the world are producing Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) to track and report on their progress with achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A pioneer of SDG localization, New Taipei released Taiwan’s first – and the world’s 10th – VLR in 2019, setting a new benchmark for local governance in Taiwan. On November 11, 2021, it released its second VLR, which revived the motto of the first report: “leaving no one behind.”

New Taipei is not only dedicated to sustainable development on a local level, but also realizes the importance of global collaboration to promote sustainable development. The city has joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) and signed the Climate Emergency Declaration to join major international cities in combating climate change. In a testament to its efforts, New Taipei City was the only city in Taiwan invited to sign the New York City VLR Declaration in 2020, joining more than 330 cities worldwide in promoting the UN’s sustainability work.

“In a post-pandemic world, SDGs are needed more than ever to guide cities on the way to the ‘new normal,’” said New Taipei City Mayor Yu-Ih Hou in reference to the signing in New York.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been New Taipei’s greatest trial of its dedication to leaving no one behind thus far. While donating supplies and sharing its pandemic prevention experience, the city remained steadfast in implementing SDGs while continuing to uphold its partnerships in the process. “We believe solid friendship is most needed in times of difficulties, and ‘New Taipei, New Normal’ can only be co-created by standing together through thick and thin,” wrote Mayor Hou in the 2021 VLR.

New Taipei’s VLR entered the international stage on the very day of its release. In addition to its communications with New York, where the first-ever VLR was released, and Finland, which produced Europe’s first review, the city received a congratulatory message from Penny Abeywardena, director of the Bureau of International Affairs in New York. Abeywardena is the key link between New York City and the UN’s headquarters.

The content of the review involves the efforts of 29 bureaus and departments, international organizations, think tanks, social and private enterprises, and academic partners. The report includes a total of 60 SDG cases in New Taipei City, including its anti-epidemic roadmap, the transformation of Wugu District’s garbage dump into a green space, and sustainable policies on green transportation and elderly-friendly societies.

From substance to packaging, the 2021 VLR echoed the city’s commitment to sustainability. The materials were chosen to set an example of how contributing to a circular economy can achieve sustainable results. The top is made of medium-density fiberboard with a PCB drilling design by Insight Out, while the sides are made of RE-Stone series printed circuit board material from Renato Lab and Super Dragon Technology. The inside of the box features sticky notes made of waste kraft paper. Finally, the tote bags, provided by CULTU-RE Experiment, are made of recycled canvas.

The bottom of the packaging is a magnetic steel plate where readers can place goal magnets or write down ideas for sustainable actions on sticky notes to serve as reminders of SDG actions they can take in everyday life. By setting a practical example of sustainable production, New Taipei aims increase environmental awareness and promote sustainable thinking.

The front brandishes the New Taipei SDG logo, which was meticulously designed to represent the spirit of localizing sustainable efforts. “With SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) at the center, surrounded by 16 other colors – each representing a goal – the logo is presented in the form of a spinning flower,” said art director Yu-Jiu Peng adding that the connecting colors symbolize collaboration opportunities for people and parties. As the flower spins, its petals form the Chinese character for “human”(人), alluding to New Taipei’s people-oriented approach to sustainability.

As much as the 2021 VLR is a celebration of New Taipei’s inspiring achievements, it is also a reminder of the city’s desire to do more. Regarding the report’s release, Mayor Hou expressed his ambition to collaborate with more international partners in the quest to achieve a sustainable, thriving city by 2030.

“New Taipei is happy to share local sustainable thinking on how to resolve urban issues with international cities,” Hou wrote in the VLR. “Embracing the world with open hands, we wish to leave no one behind, and together we will meet the challenges ahead.”