In the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Beijing People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (BPAFFC) in 2021 and reaffirmed earlier this year at our National Conference in Tauranga, the New Zealand China Friendship Society (NZCFS) agreed to organise with BPAFFC a virtual dialogue on environmental issues and urban development.
On Friday 13th October, on an upper floor of the Leeza SOHO building in the Fengtai District of Beijing, the dialogue began with a seminar including physical and virtual speakers from Beijing and New Zealand.
The seminar was introduced by BPAFFC Vice President Mme Wang Yanxia. Mme Chen Weimin, Chief Engineer, Beijing Municipal Ecology and Environment Bureau, gave an impressive overview of initiatives being undertaken by Beijing. Other speakers from the Beijing side included Director Zhang Wangcai and Professor Li Zhou from Beijing Energy Conservation and Environment Protection Centre.
From the New Zealand side, NZCFS President Chris Lipscombe introduced delegation members who had travelled from New Zealand to be at the seminar, bringing significant experience in urban development and innovative responses to environmental challenges. Delegation members included:
- Marie Ysabel Landingin, Transport Planner, WSP
- Melanie Wright, Environment and Sustainability Advisor, Downer
- Sara Zwart, Kaiwhakaauaha Taiao/Principal Regenerative Design Lead, Eke Panuku Development Auckland
Other speakers from the New Zealand side included Alistair Crozier, Executive Director, NZ China Council and Sean Audain, Strategic Planning Manager, Wellington City Council. The dialogue concluded with case studies presented by Mr Ge Yongtao, Production Department Chief, Beijing Drainage Group and Ms Kali Mercier, Deputy Director of The Helen Clark Foundation, both addressing issues of waste and storm water treatment and dispersal in urban environments.
NZCFS looks forward to an ongoing exchange of ideas and experiences in increasing urban resilience and learning how to deal with the effects of extreme weather events brought about through climate change.
During their time in Beijing, the New Zealand delegation visited the Beijing Garden Expo, where a sand quarry and construction waste landfill has been converted into a floodable wetland park, and Shougang Park, where a former steel plant has been turned into an industrial park containing retail, office and recreational spaces.