With the oil price slump top of mind, Mayor Sylvester Turner used his role as secretary general of the World Energy Cities Partnership (WECP) today to ask Houston’s energy producing partners from around the world to focus their attention on innovation, inclusive growth and resiliency. The call to action came during the mayor’s keynote address at the annual meeting of the WECP in Cape Town, South Africa.
“I want the World Energy Cities Partnership to be a place where we discuss innovation in the energy sector – a forum where we think about strategies that will not only help our energy-powered cities prosper, but also benefit the citizens of our cities,” said Turner. “I want the partnership to be a place where we share examples of insulating our economies from sudden changes and recovering quickly when times get tough.”
The mayor said WECP members must innovate and adapt in order to survive, and in a direct reference to his goal of complete communities, he noted that innovation should lead to economic growth for everyone. He cited Houston’s popular City Centre development in the middle of the Energy Corridor as a good example of this. “Complete communities are designed in such a way that you can find all of your daily needs within a short geographic distance. They are livable areas that make basic activities like going to grocery stores, taking your children to school and heading to work more accessible, regardless of whether you drive a car, take a train, ride a bike or walk. They are also areas with affordable, single-family housing for middle income families,” said Turner.
In the area of resiliency, Mayor Turner talked about the need for cities to recover from unexpected economic and environmental changes like falling oil prices, hurricanes or fuel spills that force closure of the Houston Ship Channel. “Mayors don’t like to talk about our missteps, but I do,” he said. “We learn from trying to adapt best practices and studying the worst practices so we don’t repeat them. Houston has learned the importance of diversification, and we’ve learned how to prepare for disasters.”
The WECP is a multinational partnership comprised of 19 of the world’s leading energy capitals. It is dedicated to uniting the cities that collectively drive and shape the global energy sector. What makes it unique from other energy related organizations is its link between the energy industry and municipal government. Member cities share business development best practices, participate in academic collaboration, address issues of environmental stewardship, and engage the community.
Mayor Turner has coupled his attendance at the WECP with a week-long trade and investment mission to South Africa.
The complete text of the mayor’s keynote address is available here.