Interview with the Mayor of Changwon: Mayor Ahn Sang-soo

Mr. Ahn Sang-soo is the newly elected mayor of Changwon City. He is also the new chairperson of the EcoMobility Alliance. Mayor Ahn is a lawyer by profession and has worked in the judicial system for over 20 years.

He was elected to the National assembly in 1996 and has served as an assembly member for 4 consecutive terms, during which he was also the Chairperson of the Legislative and Judicial Committee. Mayor Ahn is from the Grand National Party. It is understood that Mayor Ahn has EcoMobility high on his agenda during his term. He is also very interested to promote the public bike-sharing scheme of Changwon, NUBIJA.

The Mayor has already directed his EcoMobility staff to begin research on ways to improve the current bike-sharing scheme such that it can be made more attractive. The ICLEI – EcoMobility Alliance secretariat is supporting the city of Changwon in gathering experiences from various cities that have already implemented a bike sharing system.

Interview with the Mayor of Changwon:
1. What do you think is the major challenge in front of you to promote EcoMobility in Changwon?

It is clear and evident that if our cities, including Changwon, focus our future transport development focussed on personal automobile we, city leaders, cannot reach the dream of building sustainable and environmentally friendly cities. At the same time we cannot ignore the use of personal automobiles. A balance of use needs to be identified and EcoMobility plays a very important role here. By using ecomobile transport options short trips made by cars can be avoided, shifting to ecomobile modes can be achieved by focusing on moving people than vehicles, improving the existing vehicle technologies would yield in better returns in terms of environment and economy. The most important aspect is the integration of all the modes that we have in the city. A city leader can approve numerous transport options, yet lacking integration among the modes will only lead to inefficiency.

For Changwon, we need to focus on improving our current EcoMobility situation. We started our journey by providing Korea’s first bike sharing system, NUBIJA. We will focus on extending the system, create a new marketing plan, integrate the system with the existing transport modes and also try to attract bicycle owners to use their bicycles more often.

We recognize in the city that a better mobility will enable a higher quality of life and open various opportunities to have greener and more convivial public spaces. This will enable us to address both the urban mobility and the urban greening issues.

2. How do you think citizens of Changwon can be persuaded to take EcoMobility as a serious lifestyle?

As with every new product, including EcoMobility, the consumer will take a cautious approach. This can either be due to the unwillingness to part from their dear automobiles or due to the lack of awareness on the new product. So, to persuade the citizens of Changwon we need to focus on an awareness raising exercise and also on packaging our EcoMobility products in a more attractive fashion. We need to tell our citizens that EcoMobility brings benefits to them rather than worries. We will try to display that EcoMobility options are for all age groups and are safe to use. We will have to redefine the conventional image of mobility people have in minds.

3. What do you think is the role of ICLEI EcoMobility Alliance Secretariat in supporting Changwon?

Changwon’s EcoMobility division and the ICLEI EcoMobility Alliance Secretariat have been working together for the past 2.5 years in promoting EcoMobility in various cities. I am really happy that Changwon bravely took the challenge to lead the Alliance, which not only gave Changwon an international recognition but also taught Changwon on various fronts of EcoMobility. The Alliance Secretariat has supported the city with various technical resources and brought Changwon in touch with various technical partners. Through the international workshops that Changwon city staff have attended, we have learnt how EcoMobility is being implemented in action. I can only hope that the current cooperation between Changwon and ICLEI continues and grows stronger through the Alliance. I also appreciate the work of the various Alliance cities in EcoMobility and congratulate my fellow Mayors of the Alliance cities on their commendable work in their cities.