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2020 in Review

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The world is now into the final days of 2020, an extremely challenging year.

Just as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a standstill, it upended our workflow such that we fell short of achieving our target number of project preparation studies (PPS) completed and the number of projects approved for 2020. Click here to view our performance update as of December 2020.

Despite the setbacks, we managed to finish three PPSs, keep the eight PPSs moving and start three new PPSs with the help of technology. Equally important is we were able to turn the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity for strengthening our core team, forging new partnerships and rethinking ways to make our work more meaningful and impactful in the years to come.

Here are some of our highlights for 2020:

We stayed together apart

Beginning March, the CDIA team has been working remotely from home in Manila (Philippines), Newbury (UK), Adelaide (Australia), Tbilisi (Georgia) and New York (USA). Despite the distance, the team remained together through the virtual team meetings we held every week.

We adapted to specific circumstances to keep our projects moving

Face-to-face engagement with our partners is one of the strongest points of CDIA, hence, the suspension of in-field visits greatly impacted the progress of our work. But CDIA lost no time to search for ways to accomplish the project milestones, bearing in mind the COVID-19 restrictions in the countries we were working in.

For example, in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, CDIA blended face-to-face meetings with virtual city-level consultations to complete the interim phase so that stakeholders can agree on the proposed projects. Like in Lao PDR, we had to place greater reliance on our national team to expedite our work in Uzbekistan. This approach, coupled with constant communication, proved effective and brought forward our long-term goal of having nationals of home countries leading the conduct of our projects. This is impacting our future thinking.

We strove to achieve quick wins for our city partners

CDIA has provided a range of advisory and capacity development support to Tbilisi’s Transport Agency. Before the pandemic, the city planned for major infrastructure work along its core routes, but as the government had to divert its resources to the COVID-19 response, CDIA helped the city adapt to the situation by mentoring them in designing simple bus lanes that can be implemented using minimal resources.

To date, new bus lanes in some of Tbilisi’s major streets are in effect, giving commuters faster, safer and more reliable transport options.

We saw our projects through to the end

CDIA had to demobilize its consulting teams in March following the lockdowns imposed by most countries. While some projects suffered temporary delays, majority proceeded with the work we had in progress before the lockdowns. CDIA was able to complete its work in Georgia, Cambodia and People’s Republic of China this year.

We started working with our 21st country partner

CDIA reaped the fruit of organizing early this year a learning exchange between Tbilisi and Yerevan, which paved the way for the latter to apply for CDIA support. In July, the CDIA Trust Fund Management approved Yerevan’s application for a public transport network project, making Armenia the 21st country in Asia Pacific to receive assistance from CDIA.

We learned new ways to integrate climate change into our work

CDIA’s core team underwent an extensive training course on climate change, in order to better support our partner cities in planning for climate resilience in their infrastructure investments. Acclimatise UK guided CDIA throughout the process, with support from Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Expertise France.

We became more accessible to the world

CDIA had the opportunity to engage with various development partners like GIZ/Connective Cities and work with them to help their partner cities shape up their respective infrastructure projects. CDIA likewise became more actively involved with regional partners like SMMR, UNDP-GCTISD, Alliance to End Plastic Waste and WeGo to explore collaboration for PPSs.

CDIA also ramped up its presence on social media with Clickable Vietnam, engaged by the European Union and AFD to support CDIA in implementing a communication roadmap to positively highlight its work. A series of communication products and activities had been carried out, including a social media campaign.

In October, CDIA implemented “Urban October by CDIA” which consisted of Urban Breakfast webinar series and #BetterMyCity photo contest in partnership with ADB Youth for Asia. The four webinars were attended by 198 participants from Asia, North America and Europe. The photo contest on the other hand received 106 entries from participants who wanted to demonstrate their vision for their respective cities.

We reflected on our work as basis for improving our operations in the coming years

CDIA started on a midterm review (MTR) of its Strategy 2018-2022 in the fourth quarter of 2020. The MTR aims to assess CDIA’s progress towards meeting its objectives per Strategy 2018-2022 and provide action-oriented recommendations on how to improve its operations and enhance the prospects for achieving the targets for the remaining period of the strategy. So far, we have completed the review of existing documents and data collection, including online interviews with key CDIA stakeholders. The MTR will be completed by the end of March 2021, in time for the development of our next five-year strategy.

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