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2nd Asia-Europe Young Urban Leaders Dialogue (AEYULD): Transforming Lifestyles, Designing Sustainable Cities

Project Period: Contact: Department: Programme: Theme:
26 Jul 10 - 28 Jul 10 Asia-Europe Foundation Education Department Asia-Europe Young Leaders Symposia (AEYLS) Sustainable Development

Shanghai (China)


The AEYULD was implemented in 2008 in Madrid, Spain, as a platform for exchanging ideas and good practices to develop new ways of managing cities. It aimed to create a sustainable bi-regional network of young leaders, mainly residing in cities of ASEM partner countries in the fields of public administration, business, academe, arts, politics, and the media. As a follow-up, the 2010 edition of the dialogue focused on the specific issue of sustainability of cities and urban design.


- What are some successful cross-sectoral approaches used in the development of urban policies in Asia and Europe?

- How can governments encourage the active participation of young people in their communities?


  • Casa Asia
  • Madrid Global (International Strategy and Action Office of MadridÂ’s City Council)

Project Updates

  • The Shanghai 2010 World Expo, "Better City, Better Life", aims to bring people of the world together in cross-cultural interaction.  In the same spirit, ASEF took the opportunity to host the 2nd Asia-Europe Young Urban Leaders’ Dialogue at the Madrid Pavilion.  The AEYULD gathered over 29 young professionals from 26 ASEM countries to discuss key issues of urban sustainability.  Three participants shared some of their ideas on urban sustainability and their experiences during the workshop.

    Huang Haibo, a coastal management expert who is a PhD candidate in Ireland, called for knowledge to be put into practice.  Belgian urban designer Ward Verbakel examined the Shanghai Expo as a city by itself, while Piotr Turkiewicz, an artistic director from Poland, examined the importance of having different perspectives.


    "Whoever comes to the Shanghai Expo this year would find a specially designed space that showcases urban best practices.  This clearly delivers a message that sustainable development is more-than-ever important.  The AEYULD took this opportunity to promote the theme of ‘Transforming Lifestyles, Designing Sustainable Cities’. 

    Through a series of interesting and informative workshops and discussions, the dialogue allowed us to share creative views, ideas and solutions related to all aspects of sustainable urban planning. 

    Just like what I said before the dialogue: "Good urban planners must first be good learners”.  I was so surprised to learn a lot from the other participants at the workshops, including new practices such as Mobile Learning and Sharism , as well as the latest technologies for public transport planning, such as Legion

    On the last day of the workshop, we had a chance to work in small groups and to design our own projects.  This was the most interesting part of the whole dialogue.  Our group proposed a public transport system design for a town in Vietnam, which is based on a real case introduced by Thao Luong. 

    Through discussions, we investigated the natural resources of the town, its increasing migrant population, age structures, and needs from local residents.  Based on these, we crafted a tailored public transport system composed of clean energy buses and taxis, and public rental bicycles.  Additionally, we also proposed special walking and cycling lanes and speed limits throughout the town. 

    By developing this plan, we put our knowledge on sustainable urban planning into practice.  The significance of the AEYULD is that it is a workshop that focused more on practice, interaction, and participation.  By attending the dialogue, I shared my expertise on coastal management to other participants, and in turn, their comments and suggestions were invaluable to me. 

    I would wish to meet up with people in the future via ASEF workshops and contribute more on leading sustainable urban planning and management."

    About the Author
    Haibo Huang, a Chinese national, is a PhD candidate at the University College Cork in Ireland.  He joined the
    2nd Asia-Europe Young Urban Leaders Dialogue held at the Madrid Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo (26-28 July 2010) and  represented the Department of Geography and Irish Institute of Chinese Studies of the University College Cork. He is currently researching on adaptive coast management to climate impacts.

  • VIEWPOINT: The Expo is a city by itself

    Published on 05 Oct 2010


    "There is hardly a more relevant place imaginable to host the 2nd Asia-Europe Young Urban Leaders’ Dialogue than the Urban Best Practices Area of the Shanghai 2010 World Expo. The fact that the Shanghai World Expo was themed, ‘Better City, Better Life’, is of course important in this regard, but I would like to add a more metaphorical layer to this argument.

    In many ways, the Expo is a city by itself.  Aside from the overdose of architectural statements, the actual built volume is impressive. With that comes a fully developed multi-modal transport system and an infrastructural framework in full modernist tradition of split level circulation and stacked transport-modes.

    The management, marketing and security organizations running the Expo are probably more developed than most medium-sized European cities.  One can be sure that this Expo was preceded with many years of detailed planning, not unlike a city planning process. The transformations this event induces throughout the city of Shanghai are numerous and will leave their mark for many years ahead. And it is in the legacy that will follow, the Expo ground can prove its urban aspirations, hopefully more successfully than its two-year older brother of the Beijing Olympics.

    While most of participants of the Asia-Europe Young Urban Leaders Dialogue, like most visitors, remain dazzled by the multitude of statements being thrown at spectators in the shape of architectural concepts and supersized promo-clips, the actual urban best practice of this Expo is yet to start speaking in what could be a true urban dialogue."


    About the Author
    Ward Verbakel, a Belgian national, is an Architect and Urban Designer.  He is the founder of the Plus Office Architects, an architectural firm in Brussels.  He joined the
    2nd Asia-Europe Young Urban Leaders Dialogue held at the Madrid Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo last 26-28 July 2010. 



  • by Piotr Turkiewicz

    "I come from an arts background and I have been working in the Arts Management for the last five years.  The main reason why the 2nd Asia-Europe Young Urban Leaders Dialogue was relevant to my work is that in two years’ time, we will be opening a new concert hall in Poland—The National Forum of Music.  This new space for art will be built in the heart of the city of Wroclaw.

    It is a challenging period for us as we are working hard on preparing the city for this new artistic venue: four different halls with exhibition spaces with the Wroclaw Opera House on the other side of the square will add a new quality of cultural experience for visitors.
    Being part of the 2nd AEYULD was first and foremost, a great opportunity to meet fantastic and inspiring people from around the world.  For me, it was important to exchange ideas with young professionals who are not directly connected with the arts; it changes the perspective and allows you to look at the challenges from a different angle.  The Dialogue reassured me of how important it is not to create a public space in a social vacuum and how crucial it is to the development of a big city to build cultural spaces which citizens will consider as their own. 

    Only then will we be able to truly transform lifestyles by encourage people that the so called ‘high-arts’ is not something disconnected from the surrounding reality."

    About the author

    Piotr Turkiewicz, a Polish national, is the Artistic Director at the National Forum of Music in Wroclaw.  He joined the
    2nd Asia-Europe Young Urban Leaders Dialogue held at the Madrid Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo (26-28 July 2010)


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