It is perhaps no surprise that Taoyuan City in Taiwan is the pioneer city for the new initiative. A long-standing ICLEI member, it is a major manufacturing hub (200 of Taiwan’s top 500 manufacturing companies are here) and it has the world’s 11th busiest airport for international passenger traffic and the 8th busiest for international freight traffic, according to the Airports Council International.
Cheng describes Taoyuan City as “a hotch-potch of everything”. It is situated in the north-west of Taiwan and started as a satellite city of the Taipei metropolitan area. It is now the fifth-largest populated city in Taiwan.
Speaking at the launch event, the Mayor of Taoyuan City, Wen-Tsan Cheng, said: “Taoyuan City is the national leading logistics hub and its comprehensive logistics industry brings enormous prosperity to the city’s industrial and economic growth. However, this prosperity also comes with various environmental downsides such as air pollution, noise pollution, congestion, waste pollution, road degradation, GHG emissions and so on.”
The main challenges
Freight activities are typically commercial, so are seldom under municipal control. This means policies around areas such as transport and urban land use often overlook freight. One area of focus for EcoLogistics, says ICLEI’s Cheng, will be how to better integrate it with municipal policies.
While there are large players, such as DHL and UPS, much of the sector is fragmented. This is particularly the case in Asia and Latin America, says Cheng, where perhaps only 30-40 per cent of logistics are in the hands of the big companies. In Taoyuan – “this is quite common” – there is not a clear idea of the number of providers, he says. Estimates are anywhere between 1800 and 3000.