Two Chinese cities were honored by the United Nations for their substantial efforts in improving living conditions, a UN official announced on Wednesday at the First International Habitat Festival in Weihai, Shandong Province.
Anna Tibaijuka, executive director of the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT), announced at a press conference that the municipal government of Xiamen in east China’s Fujian Province was awarded the 2004 Habitat Scroll of Honor.
Tangshan, in north China’s Hebei Province, won the Dubai International Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment.
Tangshan was singled out for its cleanup of the Tangshan coal district. The Brownfield Remediation of the Tangshan Southern Coal Mining Area is rejuvenating a region devastated by over 30 years of pollution and land degradation. A comprehensive program in the area has helped to clean up vast tracts of land. More than one million trees have been planted and stagnant pools have been transformed into lakes safe for swimming and water life.
In 1990, Tangshan was awarded the UN Habitat Scroll of Honor and the
municipal government was chosen by the UN as an “outstanding organization contributing to human residence” for its reconstruction efforts after the great Tangshan earthquake of July 28, 1976.
The Habitat Scroll of Honor is the UN’s highest award for outstanding contributions by individuals, organizations or projects that help to improve the urban environment. Established in 1989, the award targets governments, organizations, people and programs that make outstanding contributions to human living conditions.
Chinese cities have won the award eleven times since 1990.
The Dubai International Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment was established in 1995 by the Municipality of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is granted to up to ten outstanding environmental initiatives every two years.
Tibaijuka pointed out that human beings are facing great challenges brought by rapid urbanization, and that China sets a good example for developing nations by maintaining a balance between development and decent living conditions.
(Xinhua News Agency and China.org.cn September 2, 2004)