IESCO award credited to Garden City Lands Coalition and Richmond Food Security Society

Major credit has been given to the Garden City Lands Coalition Society, the Richmond Food Security Society, and Richmond schools and citizens for two prestigious awards. This post is from a press release we received about it. Dr. Chak Au will be presenting the large plaque for the International Eco-Safety Demonstrative City award to Richmond City Council at the beginning of its regular council meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, January 24, 2011, at Richmond City Hall.

At the recent World Eco-Safety Assembly in Cambodia, Richmond was one of only three cities to be designated as “International Eco-Safety Demonstrative City.” The cities of Tanxia, China, and Kansas City, U.S.A., also received the award, which is from the International Eco-Safety Cooperative Organization (IESCO). Over forty countries were represented.

Dr. Chak Au, Trustee of the Richmond School District, accepted the award on behalf of the City.

“The award belongs to the citizens of Richmond,” said Au. “The IESCO directors have been watching Richmond with great interest since 2006, when they had a tour of the city at the UN-HABITAT World Urban Forum in Vancouver.”

The IESCO directors met the mayor and councillors and the president of what is now Kwantlen Polytechnic University. “They were impressed that about fifty percent of Richmond is kept and protected as farmland, parks, environmental reserves and other open space, which is rare in a modern city, and felt that it should be encouraged to keep it that way,” said Au.

He added, “They were aware of the Garden City Lands situation and the application to take the Lands out of the Agricultural Land Reserve. They have followed the topic closely.”

The selection criteria for the International Eco-Safety Demonstrative City award are leadership, innovation, participation and impact. “Richmond scored very high in all areas,” Au reported, “but what made the city stand out was citizen leadership and participation.”

The selection committee was impressed with the grassroots efforts of citizens, who advocated for conservation with Richmond council, formed the Garden City Lands Coalition to act together, informed the Agricultural Land Commission about community needs, and kept the Lands protected for ecology and food security. The committee viewed the shared leadership by citizens and local government as exemplary.

On behalf of the coalition, president Jim Wright shared the credit widely: “Many citizens beyond Richmond are a part of whatever we’re achieving. They are generous, helpful, and inspirational. It is their award too.”

Another grassroots initiative that the selection committee noticed was the Richmond Food Security Task Force, which is now  the Richmond Food Security Society. Au explained, “Food security is an important component of eco-safety. The selection committee felt that the farmlands in Richmond are valuable assets of the city for food security and should be protected.”

“They also felt that Richmond can be a leader in urban farming research if governments work together with universities,” Au added. He is in support of the idea of establishing an urban agriculture research centre on the Garden City Lands and hopes that the award will encourage Richmond council.

The second award Richmond brought home from the World Eco-Safety Assembly was “The Best Practices Award for Environmental Education.” Chak Au accepted the award on behalf of the Richmond School District, the sole winner.  “I don’t have a doubt in my mind that the district deserves this award. We are truly a leader in environmental education in Canada and the world,” Au said proudly.

IESCO is a United Nations affiliate established in 2006 with headquarters in Hong Kong. It is chartered to implement the UN’s Millennium Development Goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, ensuring environmental sustainability, and developing a global partnership for development.

Along with 26 heads of state, Anna Tibaijuka of Tanzania, who recently retired as UN Under-Secretary-General, attended and spoke at the assembly. Chak Au delivered a presentation on ecological crisis and international cooperation in early warning systems.


Note: There’s  a fun photo of Chak Au, Michael Wolfe, and Carol Day with the Richmond School District’s IESCO plaque here.

1 Comment »

  1. 1
    April Says:

    Holy Cow! Where have I been? Awesome news everyone! And I just saw Arzeena and Michael last night! Not an easy task to pave these lands now! Thank you Jim, Arzeena, Michael, De, …….
    Posting this everywhere!!!

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