Portland Mayor Charlie Hales rubbed shoulders Thursday with leaders of the worlds megacities, where he shared Portlands experiences in urban planning at the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Most of the cities in the group are much larger than Portland, but Portland is seen as a world leader in the effort to combat climate change, Hales said in a phone interview from Johannesburg.
Hales was a featured speaker Thursday morning in a plenary session on Smart Planning and Infrastructure, appearing alongside the mayors of Mexico City, Milan and Curitiba, the fourth-largest city in Brazil. It was one of six such sessions at the conference.
I think weve contributed and weve learned, said Hales, speaking for himself and city staff that attended.
Hales said he was inspired by listening to the mayor of Johannesburg speak of the challenges of making environmental gains when there is so much poverty and a wide gap between the haves and have-nots.
He really makes a powerful case that livability is a path to social equity, Hales said.
Portlands mayor also was intrigued about hearing of a smartphone app used by the mayor of Mexico City, which provides real-time data on air quality and transit ridership.
Hales said hed like to ask some of Portlands app developers to devise something that might prove useful here, perhaps something that can be used to bolster the number of people using the transit system.
C40 was created by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative.
The mayors argue that while national governments have been slow to respond to the threat from climate change, much of the worlds carbon emissions stem from cities, along with much of the innovation and progress in reducing carbon emissions.
For more information about C40: www.C40.org.
To see a videotape interview of Hales produced for the conference: www.youtube.com/watch?v=bu4rtn2j_4g.