Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
Main content start

International Towns Forum 2020

Plenary address by Mr. Kevin Rudd, 26th Prime Minister of Australia and Honorary Chair of the International Towns Federation (ITF)

The Center for Sustainable Development and Global Competitiveness (SDGC) was proud to partner with the International Towns Federation (ITF) in hosting the inaugural International Towns Forum (ITF2020) on Saturday, January 18, 2020 on the campus of Stanford University in Stanford, California USA.

Through a set of distinguished plenary addresses and moderated forum panels, over 150 forum participants from Stanford University, the San Francisco Bay Area, and around the world gathered to discuss the most pressing global challenges of our time; climate change and urbanization.  Specifically, participants were challenged to consider how large cities and small towns can work together to build a global community that delivers not only survival and prosperity, but also a clean natural world and a better future for everyone.


In addition to Stanford University faculty from the Schools of Engineering, Humanities & Sciences, and Medicine, plenary speakers and moderated forum panelists included:

•     The honorable Kevin Rudd, 26th Prime Minister of Australia and Honorary Chair of the International Towns Federation (ITF)

•     The honorable George Papandreou, 182nd Prime Minister of Greece and Member of the Governing Board of ITF

•     The honorable Thomas Ridge, 1st U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, 43rdGovernor of Pennsylvania, and Member of the Governing Board of ITF

•     Xinli Zheng, Vice Chairman for the China Center for International Economic Exchange

•     The honorable Steven Chu, Professor of Physics at Stanford University, Co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Physics, 12th U.S. Secretary of Energy, and Member of the Governing Board of ITF

•     Yanbing Chen ,Vice Chairman and President of the International Towns Federation

•     Sameer Sharma - Global General Manager (Cities & Transportation) for IOT Solutions, Intel

•     Hamid - Chief of Staff to the CEO, Plug and Play

•     Stephen Zoepf - Chief of Policy Development, Ellis & Associates

•     Eunse Lee - Managing Director, Techstars

•     Todd McKean - Director of Supplier Sustainability for Asia, Apple

•    The honorable Sigmund Rogich, Former US Ambassador to Iceland and President of the Rogich Communications Group

•    Zhirong Hu, Founder of Zhongshan Science & Technology Town and Chairman of International Young Leaders Club

•    The honorable Michael Sheahan, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, Ireland

A major outcome of the forum was the release of a “Declaration on the Sustainable Development of International Towns and Cities”, co-authored by the Stanford Center for Sustainable Development and Global Competitiveness and the International Towns Federation, and under review for consensus adoption by the general assembly of the forum.  As discussed by many of the forum speakers, and stated in the draft declaration;

“Recognizing that every town around the globe is comprised of distinctive characteristics and cultures, a diverse and rich history, and a unique urban fabric and community, we must work collaboratively as scholars, public servants, business professionals, community organizers, and global citizens to develop effective approaches, strategies and tools that are not only able to respond to the specific challenges of each town, while also addressing global environmental, social, and economic challenges.

Affirming that the major cities and towns where we live are the driving force of our global economy and society, we believe cities are civilization’s most efficient hubs of commerce, trade, and growth. Urban areas are civilization’s most prolific wells of education, culture, and innovation. They are the lifeblood of our modern world, and thus must be central to any sustainable development action.” - Declaration on the Sustainable Development of International Towns and Cities, January 18, 2020, Stanford University, Stanford, California USA

Containing ten formal declarations that address the need for more sustainable urban development of cities and towns globally, the declaration also proposes nine measures that are intended to inspire the participants, serve as a call to action, and bring about real change.

As part of the declaration, SDGC and ITF have agreed to jointly convene the International Towns Forum annually in different location across the world in order to proactively and continuously study the problems faced by cities and towns, and to suggest and promote sustainable solutions.

For more information about this event, please click here.