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Study Tour in Germany Allows Asian Cities to Learn Innovative Approaches in Implementing Infrastructure Investments

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When it comes to infrastructure investments, Asian cities and German cities have something in common, both do not have enough funds and the need for basic infrastructure is big. That is why CDIA organized a study tour in Germany from 24 to 27 October 2016 to provide a venue for exchanging local experiences and practices among different countries on how to address various urban development challenges.

The delegation was participated by eight representatives from CDIA Asian partner cities, national partner organizations and regional partner organizations from 5 different countries. They enthusiastically engaged with several German city officials and sector representatives on topics such as wastewater management, energy efficiency, public-private partnerships, project financing, and sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Participants had a fruitful learning experience from visiting various places in Berlin, Leipzig and Frankfurt such as the German Parliament, wastewater treatment plant, Technology Park, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), and many others.

Specifically, participants were able to discuss with the Department of Urban Renewal and Housing of the City of Leipzig about strategic city planning amidst rapidly changing contexts and trends. Leipzig is like Berlin, which has experienced fast-paced urbanization after many years of social and economic restructuring due to German reunification.

Additionally, the visit to the wastewater treatment plant in Berlin-Ruhleben was of special interest to the participants as their experience showed the importance of developing infrastructure through phased implementation. Mr. Schulze in Berlin Water Company further explained the development of their technical system, and specific milestones which led to the quality standards that citizens are now enjoying.

The visit to the office of GIZ Headquarters allowed the Asian participants to gain a valuable insight on the German cooperation policies, as well as how cities can access better knowledge and tools. The visit to the German development bank, KfW moreover concluded the learning expedition with a better understanding of how financing institutions can give support to Asian cities as they strive to meet the needs of their growing urban population. Experiences on PPPs in German cities were also shared.

Many of the participants noted that the value of their learning experience will be most applicable in planning for their city’s development.

Ms. Novianti Wahyuni of BAPPEDA in Kota Semarang, Indonesia shared that she was inspired by how German cities prioritize their infrastructure projects. Specifically, she noted how Leipzig made “kindergarten as a priority.” She hopes that Semarang will likewise prioritize early childhood education as Indonesia is expected to experience a demographic bonus in 2020, wherein the number of people within the productive age bracket would be higher than the number of elderly people and children. Hence, “the priority for early childhood education should be considered seriously to prepare the next generation to become smarter,” Ms. Wahyuni stated.

Meanwhile, Kirtee Shah, KSA Chairman of KSA Design Planning Services Pvt. Ltd. was amazed by how “Germany has increased its share of renewable energy sources from 4 per cent 12 years ago to 34 per cent now.” He further promised to bring out his learning from the study tour in designing or planning future interventions in India. For him, the learning visit “raised one’s bar of expectation and measurement.”

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