Nearly a dozen mayors from across the country have proven the old adage that one is never too old to learn, by returning to the classroom for lessons on the environment.
The classes yesterday were the first day of the two-and-a-half-week Yale-Tsinghua Environment and Sustainable Development Leadership Program.
The program, in its third year, offers mayors a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities in environment and sustainable development in China.
Mayors will spend the first three days at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and then have a two-week field-based training experience in the United States, including three days at Yale University. In the US they will discuss issues of environmental sustainability with Yale faculty members and senior officials from cities and corporations across the United States.
Mayors attending the program are from 11 Chinese cities, including Haikou in south China's Hainan Province, Lhasa in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, and Shenyang in northeast China's Liaoning Province.
Topics to be covered include concepts of urban and industrial ecology and their implications for urban planning and policies, as well as application of concepts of sustainable development to specific urban concerns such as water supply and quality, energy, pollution reduction, waste management and other urgent urban environmental issues.
Alan Brewster, Associate Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, said during the opening ceremony that Yale expects the program will help Chinese cities reduce environmental pollution while maintaining rapid economic growth.
He described China's environmental problems as "very serious."
Tao Siliang, Secretary-General of China's association of mayors, said mayors should shoulder great responsibilities in reducing urban pollution.
"Keeping the balance between economic development and environmental protection remains an acute problem to all Chinese mayors," Tao said.
(China Daily May 12, 2006)