For Guangzhou, innovation awards are just the beginning of the learning

Delegations from Guangzhou, China and Eskişehir, Turkey visited Boston this month to learn about the city's award-winning participatory budgeting program for youth. (Neal Peirce)

Sponsored by the city of Guangzhou, China, the Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation has filled a void — emerging as what appears to be the sole award process across the world open to entries on all topics from cities across all continents.

But it’s going further. Most award programs that recognize innovative city programs and policies are just that — they end with a mayor or other city representative collecting a plaque, making a speech, shaking hands. Guangzhou, by contrast, is going far beyond the award itself. Its goal is to provide a platform for innovative cities around the world to learn from each other. In the process, Guangzhou itself hopes to absorb the ideas and learning that all the lessons other cities recognized by the award have to offer.

With those goals, Guangzhou is facilitating study tours to visit the 15 cities short-listed for recognition through the award process. Delegations from Guangzhou itself go on the trips. Also invited as guests on the tours are delegations from any of the 15 award cities.

For example, earlier this month, the Guangzhou city government led a trip to Boston to learn more about the city’s participatory budgeting program for youth. (That program is the subject of this week’s Citiscope innovation feature.) Also present on the study tour was a group including senior government officials from the city of Eskişehir, Turkey, whose urban “Memory Museum” was one of the 15 finalists for the Guangzhou award.

Prior outreach trips by the Guangzhou Institute for Urban Innovation have included Buenos Aires, recognized in 2014 for its “Collaborative Roundtables for Innovation and Creativity”; Antioquia (Medellin), Colombia, for its “Educational Parks: A Space for 21st Century Citizens”; Christchurch, New Zealand, for “Christchurch Our Ever Evolving City” (including earthquake recovery); and Melbourne, Australia for “4°C Cooler — Using green infrastructure to build a climate resilient and prosperous city.”

Scheduled or planned are trips to other winners of the Guangzhou award: Bristol (UK); Linkoping (Sweden); Hamburg (Germany); Hangzhou (China); Dakar (Senegal); Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates); Jakarta (Indonesia); and Eskişehir.

More Citiscope coverage on the Guangzhou Awards:

Inside the Guangzhou Award for urban innovation

Meet the 15 finalists for 2014

Five cities win 2014 Guangzhou awards

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Neal Peirce is the founder and editor-in-chief of Citiscope. Full bio
Farley Peters is Citiscope’s deputy editor. Full bio

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