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Honolulu Receives Gold Award as the World’s Most Livable Community
The United Nations-endorsed International Awards for Livable Communities (LivCom) has awarded Honolulu the 1st place Gold Award as the most livable, sustainable large city in the world. Honolulu was one of 48 communities from 20 counties selected as finalists to participate in the competition held last week in Niagara, Canada.
A panel of international judges presented the City with the coveted 1st place Gold Award as a result of its innovation and leadership in planning, building and managing Honolulu sustainably.
“This award is the result of a long-term effort to make Honolulu the greatest city in the world,” said Mayor Jeremy Harris. “It’s gratifying to know that in the eyes of the global community our city is viewed as the leader in protecting the environment, preserving cultural and historical resources, and empowering citizens to be involved in shaping the future. We’re proud to have had an opportunity to share our progress with colleagues the world over. Upon careful review of the evidence, LivCom judges came to a consensus and designated Honolulu the world’s most livable large city. This is unquestionably the highest honor our city could have.”
At a dinner hosted by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Honolulu last Saturday, incoming chapter president, Mr. Pat Onishi, credited Mayor Harris for sustaining a vision of Honolulu that made possible the livable community award. “Honolulu has received this well-deserved recognition because planning and strong leadership came together to underscore the importance of design in developing and integrating our natural and built environments,” said Onishi. “On behalf of the architectural community, I want to congratulate and thank Mayor Harris for his leadership in making Honolulu the beautiful city that it is. Community pride is an important by-product of everything the Mayor has done.”
The LivCom award is a testament to the City’s efforts to improve the quality of life by promoting sustainable tourism and perpetuating Hawaii’s environmental and cultural heritage through such initiatives as the revitalization of Waikiki. Improvements to the facilities at Hanauma Bay, and the establishment of world-class athletic facilities at Waipio Peninsula and Central Oahu were among projects mentioned in Honolulu’s qualifying submission to the judging committee.
LivCom judges praised the City for advancing initiatives aimed at cutting pollution, decreasing dependence on imported oil, and expanding recycling of solid waste and wastewater. Examples of Honolulu’s progress in this area include the use of H-Power to reduce landfill disposal by 90 percent, and the Honouliuli water reclamation facility’s recycling of wastewater for commercial and agricultural purposes.
LivCom cited Honolulu’s comprehensive energy program aimed at slashing electrical demand by utilizing renewable energy. In recent years the City’s co-generation facility at Honolulu Hale has reduced grid energy demand by as much as 80 percent. Honolulu has also converted more than 1,000 city vehicles to use bio-diesel fuel and installed LED traffic lights at an annual electrical savings of more than $250,000.
Also related to energy is the City’s integrated transportation plan, which resulted in the expansion and reconfiguration of TheBus into a flexible transit system that addresses changing travel patterns and increases service to smaller communities. The City has also developed an expandable Bus Rapid Transit system featuring state-of-the-art hybrid-electric vehicles.
In the area of land use management, Honolulu was commended for curtailing sprawl by establishing urban growth boundaries and directing growth to Oahu’s urban core. The City has moved aggressively to protect shoreline areas, preserve public view plains and support island agriculture by advancing an initiative to save 83,000 acres of ag land in perpetuity.
LivCom recognized Honolulu for encouraging citizen involvement in land use, neighborhood restoration, and transportation planning processes. The City also received high marks for initiatives such as Sunset on the Beach and Brunch on the Beach that develop community pride and address the island’s unique economic challenges.
Since 1997 the International Awards for Livable Communities has recognized leadership and innovation in building sustainable communities. Endorsed by the United Nations Environmental Program, LivCom is a global competition focusing on best practices in managing cities sustainably.
The LivCom award is the latest recognition Honolulu and Mayor Harris have received for sustainable initiatives. Last year the U.S. Conference of Mayors recognized the Mayor with an Outstanding Achievement Award “for exemplary leadership in developing and implementing programs that improve the quality of life in America’s cities.”
|Wednesday, October 27, 2004|