by ACMA Life Member Terry Zerkle
ICMA held its first International Regional Summit in Yangzhou, China, May 11-15. The summit, Eco-Friendly Urbanization, focused on the
challenges of sustainable development in a rapidly urbanizing world-challenges facing China, the United States, and many other countries.
The summit was sponsored by the ICMA China Center and the city of Yangzhou. The event was held in conjunction with a meeting of ICMA's
International Committee, a group of ICMA members committed to ensuring that the organization maintains an international perspective.
ACMA Life Member Terry Zerkle, a former member of the ICMA International Committee, attended from Arizona. The summit experience included
optional pre- and post-summit study tours to several historic and culturally significant Chinese cities including China's capital, Beijing,
and Wuxi, Hangzhou, Xi'an and Shanghai.
"[This was] a truly incredible experience in every respect and the summit was highly educational," Zerkle said of the event. "The pre- and
post-summit study tours constituted a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience China up close and personal and to visit remarkable
landmarks such as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. The food was great, the hospitality exceptional, and travelling with my ICMA
colleagues and making new Chinese friends a real joy."
In Yangzhou, the summit brought individuals together from around the world for presentations, panel discussions, and keynote sessions
highlighting international perspectives, management issues, and approaches for incorporating sustainable development priorities into local
government strategies. City tours, including visits to a digital city management center, local businesses, and cultural attractions,
enriched the experience.
Among the speakers was ICMA president Simon Farbrother and ICMA executive director Robert J. O'Neill, Jr., who spoke about the urbanization process
in the United States and best practices in sustainable development, based on a research paper on sustainable development conducted by ICMA's Center
for Sustainable Communities. Additionally, Clay Pearson, city manager in Pearland, Texas, and chair of the ICMA International Committee, spoke about
local government in the United States, with a focus on the council-manager form.
Other presenters and keynote speakers included Chinese provincial and state leaders, urbanization experts, and university professors. Mr. Li Tie,
director of the China Center for Urban Development, National Development and Reform Commission, discussed "Selecting Approaches for New Urbanization
in China," and Mr. Yang Bo of the National Energy Conservation Center addressed the energy conservation development strategy in China and action
planning for energy conservation. The China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL) unveiled the findings of research on small town development.
Registrants for the summit came from Australia, Canada, China and Hong Kong, Denmark, Kenya, the Netherlands, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the
United States. They represented cities, professional associations, research organizations, and a water utility.
"The sheer scale of urbanization and development in China, which has a population of 1.35 billion, is quite something to behold. To simultaneously
experience both the ancient and the new, I highly recommend a China visit to any who might be interested," Zerkle said.