Creating a Human City: Review of the Suwon Forum 2018

For the past 3 years, CityNet and Suwon City have collaborated to organize the Suwon Forum which is an annual event centered on the creation of an “Asia Human City” and was made to facilitate the sharing of best practices and strategies needed to create a better living environment for the population. This year’s theme was titled “Human Cities for All” and featured topics such as Urban Regeneration, Housing Welfare, Urban Resilience, and Civic Democracy.

This year, on September 17th-18th, I had the opportunity to work as a staff member for the 2018 Suwon Forum. Before attending the event, I had little knowledge to what the concept of a Human City meant, but I discovered that there are varying meanings behind a seemingly simple term.

Within the overall theme, three sessions with sub-themes took place in order to provide insight into the various factors that are needed to create a Human City:

  1. A City Where Everyone is Happy
  2. A City Where People are Always Safe
  3. A City Where Anything is Possible

Speakers and participants weighed in on the numerous aspects behind a Human City and what contributes to its creation. A main element that was highlighted was the need for public participation. For instance, Oswar Mungkasa, the Deputy Governor of Jakarta, shared this when giving his idea of a Human City; a place in which the government and citizens work in collaboration and co-create the city, and one where the population can have a role in developing city policies and implementing them.


Another aspect that was frequently noted for a Human City was the importance of environmental sustainability through the incorporation of various ecological elements such as greater walkability, the creation of public spaces, and efficient and affordable public transportation through the use of BRT systems. For Taoyuan, Jiunn-Ming Chiou, the Deputy Secretary General of the city, expressed how one of the ways that they are working to achieve a human-oriented city is by improving the air quality and implementing more low carbon practices. One of their initiatives is the use of energy efficient infrastructure and housing, as 86 buildings of the city having attained GREE certification.

As the forum progressed, it became increasingly evident that a Human City was a multifaceted concept with many cities now developing an array of policies to implement in order to achieve this. However, the term itself started in Suwon.

A couple of years ago, the Mayor of Suwon, Tae Young Yeom, gave Suwon this concept of being a Human City. At this year’s Suwon Forum, he expressed the vision for the city; one that welcomes and values people, and is a place in which citizens have a role and opportunity to actively participate. During the forum, much was mentioned about the former king of Suwon who lead many initiatives for his citizens and constructed the Suwon fortress which is now a proud emblem for the history of the city.

On the second day, after the closing ceremony of the event, participants were taken on a site visit to the Hwaseong Fortress mentioned during the event, along with the Haenggung-dong Mural Village and the Hanok Technology Exhibition Hall in order for the forum’s participants to learn more about Suwon’s history and traditional heritage. With a walk through the city, one can see how deeply connected the city is to its culture and citizens. The well-maintained 222 year old fortress, the preservation of the traditional Hanok architectural style, and even small historical representations of past citizens painted along the pathways depict the value that Suwon has for its people, history, and culture.

During the site visits, I noticed that the collaboration from the people of Suwon can be seen throughout the city. In the Haenggung-dong Mural Village, the city is able to represent the people of the past through art representations made by the citizens of the present day. The art in the village also helps represents elements of a Human City as, during the tour, the guide noted how the artists and owners of the houses in the village collaborated on the design for the murals. One of them was even created by the community as the artist had laid out art supplies in front of the wall and allowed citizens to join in the process of creating the mural for the city.

The words “Human City Suwon—사람이 반갑습니다 (people welcome)” were even written in various places throughout the city.

Although having a Human City is a new concept, the practices shared by all in attendance at the Suwon Forum will help spread this idea across Asia, and I’m certain that the Suwon Forum will further this initiative for many years to come.

Serena_bio_imgSerena Spurgeon
Serena Spurgeon received a Bachelor’s degree in Foreign Languages and International Studies at the University of North Alabama, and is currently pursuing a Specialization Master’s degree in International Relations at the Univeristà Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, Italy. She was a co-author in political research conferenced at the Midwest Political Science Organization in 2018. Her areas of interest include environmental sustainability, SDGs, human development, and peace and conflict studies.

Fresh Faces: CITYNET Young Professionals

My name is Jeongyoon Hur, and I am a CITYNET intern. It has been about two months since I started my internship at CITYNET and it has already been such a surreal experience. I currently work with the Operations Team to update the CITYNET members contact information. With over 100 members, the idea of contacting all of them was overwhelming at first, however speaking to our member cities and organizations gave me a better understanding of our network. After talking to them, I can feel how excited everyone is for the upcoming congress and how much they are engaged with CITYNET.

CITYNET Young ProfessionalsI am also a program coordinator for the CITYNET Young Professionals, a student-led program that provides opportunities for undergraduate/graduate students to take action in addressing global issues. Program coordinators are responsible for assisting the program department to develop projects, organize events, and coordinate activities like field trips and public lectures. Throughout this program, I will be overseeing expenditures, writing reports and program evaluations, and providing on-site supervision of events and activities.

I will be working with about 30 eager young professionals including our very talented interns. The participants that I have met are all great, all of whom are from diverse backgrounds and are all very unique. Because everyone is so different and passionate, this program will provide a fantastic experience. I am looking forward to seeing a great synergy in these next few months.

Currently, with other interns, I am preparing for CITYNET Young Professional’s first event, an orientation on this Saturday, July 13. We all are working very hard for the launch of this new program. I will try to keep everyone updated, but for further updates and information about our Young Professionals program, please visit our facebook page,

Some of our awesome Young Professionals

Some of our awesome Young Professionals

Disclaimer: The posts and comments on this site do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CITYNET or its members.

Throughout the Study Visit..

Hi my name is Shoya, the president of YouthNet.

I thought I should put some details about YouthNet – who we are and what we aim for, so I’m going to write about YouthNet and what we learnt throughout the Study Visit in Makati, the Philippines.

We are an international youth organisation that focuses on development cooperation with a partnership with youth from different countries from Philippines, France and mostly from Japan. The reason why our blog is put on “CITYNET blog” is that we are supported by CITYNET.

Our mission is to contribute to world peace at youth level and progress together to be able to contribute to world peace in the future. We have five values – 1) Outreach, 2) Skills Development, 3) Sharing Experience, 4) Take Opportunities, Create Opportunities, 5) Build Network, Use Network.

YouthNet is still a new-born organization since April this year. However, we have come to operate some activities like Teambuilding, Workshop, and Study Visit is one of those too.

We participated in Study Visit to Makati, the Philippines as one of my colleagues has been writing. From my point of view, we experienced many things that were fresh and stimulating for us and learnt many things.

During the visit, we visited a lot of places and met a lot of people, and we are very impressed with youth in the Philippines because they are very active, highly-motivated and inspired. They are a part of society, which we could never imagine in Japan. They coordinate a lot of projects by themselves such as sports tournaments, fashion shows, workshops, and so on.

The biggest thing we learnt can be explained with one word, “human touch”. Every place we visit, we saw a smile on people’s face. They kindly welcomed us with a smile. We always saw a smile on their face, and importantly, we smiled together. No matter how old you are, no matter which country you are from, no matter what gender you are, we can smile anywhere in the world. That’s something we should bring back to Japan.

I would also like to mention that it was good that we had a feedback meeting everyday in limited time at night. It means a lot to us in my opinion. Having a meeting means that we were in Makati as a member of YouthNet, not individually. Throughout the meetings, we found a lot of things we could do as our activity such as workshop on culture, country and history, publishing a newsletter regularly and send it to the Network we have, and making a report book on the Study Visit.

Overall, the Study Visit made us think about a question – “What is happiness?” I hope we get the answer as we operate our projects.

Finally, we are very grateful for all the supports and kindnesses we received. Thank you very much to CITYNET for giving us a chance to go to Makati, to Makati City for accepting our request and coordinating such a grate programme, and to Barangays we visited for welcoming us very kindly.

We will share the experience we had in Makati with other members who could not go and carry on our activities with it. We hope to go back to Makati soon. Thank you very much.


P.S. We will be updating next activities soon.

6th day



Hello, we are very sad that we have to go back to Japan tomorrow.

Today we went to a office of education and science high school and Makati University.

In  the office we heard about educational system of Makati.

This was very valuable lecture for  us and we thought that education of Phillippine was expected in the word.

We will put more feedback after we go back to Japan.

at the education office

at the education office

at science univrsity

at science univrsity

This is a class of robotics

This is a class of robotics

YouthNet – Makati Study Visit Day 5

Hello, it is a pity for us that tomorrow is the last day of our study visit.

Today, we visited Makati City Hall and we had presentations on infrastructure and environment department. After those two presentations, we gave our presentation and talked about “life in Japan” and “YouthNet”. Each of the members had two or three slides to speak. It was very good experience for us to give a presentation in foreign country and also in front of people from Makati City Hall. Also, it was good for us to find that we need to study and practise presentations more.

Relating to it, we decided at the meeting at night to have a workshop regularly which we study/practise  presentation, study about countries or other international/domestic issues.

Tomorrow’s goal is to enjoy our last programme, give a better presentation at school with correction from today’s one and be thankful to everything.

See you tomorrow.

Youthnet – Makati Study Tour – Day 4

Hello, half of our study visit have already finished. we are suprised at it.

Today we cooked noodles with the people who try to earn their livelihood by selling them.

And we went to meet streetchildren.

As taking our activity, the warmth of their welcome made us happy.

Though we thought that the poor are unfortunate before today, we saw they actually live happily, so we confused the way of relating them.

The most important thing that we have thought is to communicate each other and we have to maintain it.

Our tommorow’s goal is to arouse audience’s interest.

She is cooking noodles.

She is cooking noodles.

with streetchildren

with streetchildren

sushi and sashimi

sushi and sashimi

with our driver

with our driver

Youthnet – Makati Study Tour – Day 3

We visited 1st youth organization.

We visited 1st youth organization.

This is 2nd youth organization members.

This is 2nd youth organization members.

We got original T-shirts.

We got original T-shirts.

They played  instrument to show welcome to our  visit.

They played instrument to show welcome to our visit.

Hello, we enjoy our study tour so mu/ch!!

Today we visited three youth organizations.

Wherever we called on, we received great welcome.

So we confused a little,but we are so thankful to them.

The most impressive thing that we received in today’s program is the power of organization among youth members in Phillipine.

We realized that our study visit is supported by many people, so we have to work harder about building our organization.

Our tommorow’s goal is to try to see things from  the same viewpoint as streetchildren.