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President Tsai attends opening ceremony of EcoMobility World Festival and Congress 2017
President Tsai attends opening ceremony of EcoMobility World Festival and Congress 2017

On the morning of October 2, President Tsai Ing-wen attended the opening ceremony of the EcoMobility World Festival and Congress 2017. The president praised Kaohsiung City for its excellent performance as event host, and expressed hope that more cities in Taiwan will follow Kaohsiung's lead by getting involved in ecomobility so that citizens throughout Taiwan can have more convenient, healthy, and sustainable living environments.

After arriving at the venue President Tsai first enjoyed a performance called "Impressions of Taiwan" by the Succession Percussion Group. She then watched an opening ceremony video produced by the event organizers, and delivered remarks, stating that the decision of Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) to hold the third EcoMobility World Festival in Kaohsiung shows that the city has changed. Formerly a traditional industrial city, she said, Kaohsiung is now gradually changing direction and adopting the path of sustainable development.

President Tsai pointed out that the sight of Kaohsiung police officers patrolling the streets on electric scooters is no longer a surprise, the C-bike bicycle sharing system has already logged more than 15 million rentals, all stations in phase-one of the Kaohsiung Light Rail System are now in service, and the Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transit System has begun to turn a profit. In addition, planning for a new rail network continues to progress. System density will increase as time goes by, and public transportation is expected to become more and more popular with local residents.

President Tsai stated that Kaohsiung's development of ecomobility demonstrates the city's commitment to urban transformation, and said her administration hopes to see other cities follow Kaohsiung's lead by embracing ecomobility so that citizens throughout Taiwan can have more convenient, healthy, and sustainable living environments. The government will therefore tap into the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program special budget to support railway construction throughout Taiwan to balance out the previous emphasis on highway construction.

President Tsai stated that first-time visitors to Taiwan must certainly feel curious about the huge number of scooters on the streets. The fact is, she said, the popularity of scooters in Taiwan is dictated by the logistics of our urban and rural lifestyles, which is why the government is planning to develop electric scooters. The aim is to spur the growth of domestic demand for electric scooters.

The president mentioned that the feasibility of self-driving buses is now being tested in Kaohsiung, Changhua (in central Taiwan), and Taipei. The government is also planning to build a test facility for self-driving vehicles. By integrating our manufacturing capabilities in the fields of computer chips, autos, and the Internet of Things, she said, Taiwan is looking to develop a driverless vehicle manufacturing industry.

President Tsai thinks that ecomobility involves more than just cleaner transportation. As suggested by the theme of this year's Congress—Livable, Shared, and Intelligent—ecomobility is a way of life, a new kind of culture.

The president pointed out that more smart mobility, car sharing, walking, and human-centered urban planning will help residents to develop closer links to their local communities. Consumption patterns will become more varied, and city life will become less focused on just a small number of shopping districts. This sort of bottom-up vitality will spur the overall sustainable development of cities, said President Tsai, who added: "These are precisely the objectives that the ICLEI is pursuing."

President Tsai observed that since its founding, the ICLEI has done an admirable job of promoting sustainability, resilience, livability, and low-carbon systems. Taiwan is willing to continue cooperating with the ICLEI and other friends around the world in the field of ecomobility, said the president, who invited people from all around Taiwan to come to Kaohsiung's Hamasen district to get a feel for the benefits of ecomobility and experience a new lifestyle.

President Tsai praised Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) for decisively putting the city on a more environmentally friendly path. The president also emphasized that her administration's actions will prove that "Taiwan's future is a green future." She then added, "Let's go! Go Kaohsiung!"

After completing her remarks, President Tsai and the distinguished guests watched a video by Delta Electronics on Taiwan's water situation. Then the president joined Mayor Chen and others in boarding a self-driving vehicle to experience the convenience afforded by technology.

In addition to Mayor Chen, other attendees included Kaohsiung City Council Speaker Yu-Cheng Kang (康裕成), ICLEI Secretary General Gino Van Begin, and representatives from member cities of the EcoMobility Alliance.

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