NLC’s Delegation to Europe: Day 4 [Hamburg, Germany]

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The delgation’s second day in Hamburg began with a boat tour of the Port of Hamburg, one of the most productive ports in the world.  Delegates were able to converse with representatives of the Hamburg Port Authority and witness several of the innovative practices happening at the Port, including technologies for shorepower connections and automated container terminals.  As Councilmember La Bonge of Los Angeles aptly stated, and as the tour demonstrated, understanding and enhancing port operations are critical to strengthen relationships between major cities around the world and to make significant progress in sustainability goals, such as energy efficiency and improved air and water quality.

In the afternoon, the delegation had an opportunity to tour the Town Hall and visit with the Senator of the Environment and Urban Planning, Jutta Blankau.  Ms. Blankau reemphasized the importance of strengthening relationships between cities in the United States and Germany as environmental protection is increasingly an agenda that cannot be ignored.  Directly after this meeting, the group participated in the Best Practices Conference at the Bucerius Law School.  This conference provided an opportunity for the delegation to highlight more specific aspects of the innovative sustainability work in their cities.   With Helga Flores of The Brookings Institution as moderator, the first panel titled “Comprehensive Approaches to Sustainability” consisted of Mayor Buol, Mayor Coleman, Councilman Kraft, and Holger Lange from the Hamburg Ministry of Urban Development and Environment.   An interesting theme that consistently came up between the speakers was the need to purposefully create integrated, holistic strategies to institutionalize sustainability in cities.  Councilman Kraft, of the city of Baltimore, described the process of utilizing parking taxes to fund the downtown Charm City Circulator, meeting multiple goals of generating funds for the city; reducing greenhouse gases; and increasing mobility for residents.  The second panel, titled “ Green Infrastructure, Energy and Transportation” included Councilman La Bonge; Mr. Christensen, Deputy Director of the Port of Los Angeles; Mayor Ralph Becker; Councilman Matt Zone; and Mr. Otto-Zimmerman, Secretary General of ICLEI.  Discussion topics in this session included the healthy ‘competition’ to ‘green’ U.S. cities that is propelling innovation and creativity; the importance of public- private partnerships in scaling up sustainability efforts; and the need to engage citizens globally in order to effectively create change.

The evening concluded with a wonderful dinner hosted by the state chancellery of the City of Hamburg.  Tomorrow, the delegation will meet with the First Mayor of Hamburg, Olaf Scholz; hear from the Ministry of Urban Development and Environment; and tour the International Building Exhibition (IBA).

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