Ideas around EcoMobility and the World Festival

A Message for Young People from the Creative Director


Konrad Otto-Zimmermann
Creative Director
EcoMobility World Festival 



The future lies ahead of us. We cannot see it, we cannot grab it. We can curiously look forward to it, or timidly fear it. But are we condemned to just wait and see what the future brings? No. We are making the future today with all our plans and decisions. The future begins every day.

But when we design the future today, do we have a sufficient idea of what the future will look like? Or what the future needs to look like?


Let’s look at the way we move around in our cities. Most people do not use a car. For example, children under the age of 18 no not have a drivers’ license and don’t drive. Elderly people over 70 often do no longer like to drive. And many people cannot afford a car. Therefore, the car is not the backbone of urban mobility, but walking, bicycling and riding a bus are the widely used means of transport.

But look at our streets: Isn’t most of the street space occupied by cars? Indeed, the street space is full of parked cars or dedicated as lanes for running traffic. While a car is only used for 10-15% of the time, people place their car in the street and occupy space as if it was their own home. No citizen would dare to put their furniture or kitchen in the street, but strangely enough they put their cars on public ground as if it was their private storage.


Then, is the car an efficient means of transport? Not at all. Think of a mid-class car. It weighs 20 times more than the passenger it carries. In order to transport a person of maybe 50 or 60 kilograms of weight, we move 1 to 1.5 tons of steel, aluminum and plastic. A bicycle only weighs a fifth of the person it carries; that’s efficient. And while a sitting person requires 0.5 square meters of space, we move vehicles with a size of 5-10 square meters through our cities; a bicycle requires around 1 square meter. Similarly, the energy use. While the usual car burns 5-12 liter of gasoline per hundred kilometers, the bicycle is propelled by the rider’s energy, and the energy input per person/kilometer is actually lower when riding a bike than when walking.

While the motor car is utmost inefficient, the bicycle has surpassed human evolution and is a truly genial invention.

With the human population on our planet growing from today’s 7 billion to 9 billion by the year 2050, while the world’s resource basis is shrinking, the future demands extremely efficient solutions.


Therefore, let’s transform our urban transport systems and our personal mobility to be very efficient. Let’s give priority to walking, cycling, wheeling, use of public transport, and if a car is need, to car-sharing. This is the concept of EcoMobility.

City planners should plan for EcoMobility, not for cars. The City Council should invest in EcoMobility, not streets for cars. People should adopt an ecomobile lifestyle, not a lifestyle around the car. This will make our cities fit for the future.

But how can we see how this works? How can we get the taste of an ecomobile lifestyle? How can we gain ecomobile experience? Where can we see a city for EcoMobility? We need to stage a scene: EcoMobility exercised by real people, in a real city, in real time. And the world can see how EcoMobility works.


This is the idea of the EcoMobility World Festival 2013. Together with my colleague Park, Yeon Hee, Director of the ICLEI Korea Office, I congratulate the residents of Haenggung-dong neighborhood, the businesses in the area, the residents’ groups, the City Council and - last not least - Mayor Yeom, Tae-Young for the courage and hard work to make the upcoming, unique EcoMobility World Festival a success.

Most of all, I would like to thank the EcoMobility Youth Reporters for their contribution to promoting the idea of EcoMobility and the World Festival to the citizens. I am excited about the active engagement of youth in the festival preparations. Let’s not forget: we are building a sustainable future for those who are youth today and the middle generation tomorrow.


Take part today in the International Youth Council online EcoMobility debate.