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8th Asia-Pacific Urban Forum Calls for Strengthened Partnerships Toward Crisis-Resilient Cities

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The Asia and the Pacific region – home to 54% of the global urban population – is facing multiple, interlinked crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical conflicts, and climate change, among others. These issues have created new challenges for cities while exposing longstanding issues of inequality, poverty, and a widening infrastructure gap.  

The 8th Asia-Pacific Urban Forum (APUF-8) held on 23-25 October 2023 in Suwon City, Republic of Korea attracted more than 1,800 urban thought leaders, local and national governments, financial institutions, civil society, and other stakeholders representing 30 countries and more than 80 cities in Asia and the Pacific and globally. Together, they reflected on the crises faced by cities in the region, shared innovative approaches and solutions to support sustainable urban development, and promoted a shared vision of an inclusive, resilient, and smart Asia and the Pacific.

The forum hosted a high-level session, 4 high-level plenaries, 5 stakeholder assemblies, and 50 parallel sessions and other related events. It underscored advancing integrated urban and territorial planning, multi-level governance for climate resilience, urban digital transformation that includes smart and inclusive policies, and an enabling environment for urban finance.

It emphasized the need for strengthened partnerships, echoing the Forum’s flagship report, “Crisis Resilient Urban Futures: The Future of Asian and Pacific Cities 2023,” which was launched during the Opening Plenary. The report was funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the City of Suwon. 

“Multi-level governance, the engagement of all stakeholders, and strengthened partnerships are essential if we are to build crisis-resilient cities,” said Executive Secretary Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). 

CDIA’s contribution to APUF-8

CDIA contributed to the forum via two parallel sessions, which served as platforms for discussing key bottlenecks and solutions for increasing climate adaptation finance and establishing good governance structures to enable cities to address their development challenges. 

On 23 October, CDIA’s Capacity Development Specialist Kathleen Jovellanos served as a speaker for the session, “Bridging the Gap: Strategic Urban Governance Approaches Towards Inclusive and Resilient Cities in Southeast Asia.” She shared how CDIA is collaborating with cities in infrastructure project preparation and offered key considerations for making projects bankable and aligned with funder priorities and ensuring that the city becomes a viable investment partner through good governance approaches and institutional strengthening measures. 

Other speakers included Xhesika Hoxha from TH Köln – University of Applied Sciences in Germany and Ahmad Rifai, Executive Director of Kota Kita Foundation in Indonesia. The three speakers, together with participants from local governments, multilateral development banks, non-government organizations, and the academe had an interactive exchange on tools and approaches to enhance urban climate resilience as well as post-pandemic emerging concepts, and measures on cross-sectoral collaboration.  

Key takeaways from the session include running parallel solutions, building trust with communities, harmonizing citizens’ priorities with those of political leaders, testing out innovative ways of collecting urban data, and ensuring inclusive design of projects.  

The session was led by Technische Universitat Berlin and Kota Kita Foundation.  

On 25 October, ADB’s Urban Development Specialist and CDIA’s Project Officer Lara Arjan joined Kathleen in the panel discussion for the session, “Unlocking Finance for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience: Bottlenecks and Opportunities.”  

They joined Mayor Mohiuddin Ahmed from Patuakhali Municipality, Bangladesh; Joy Bailey from ADB’s Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF); Sobia Pervaiz who represented a community stakeholder group in Abbottabad, Pakistan; Mr. Aslam Perwaiz from Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC); and Ms. Le Thi Lan Phuong from Viet Nam’s Ministry of Construction in providing insights for overcoming challenges in accessing climate adaptation finance. As cities in the region are becoming more vulnerable to climate change impacts, massive resources are needed to help cities cope with the multiple issues confronting them. 

The panelists also shared various technical and financial solutions, underscoring the importance of an enabling environment that will facilitate city access to financing and allow them to manage their own revenue streams, aligning sub-national plans with national strategies and priorities, diversifying funding sources, and boosting technical assistance and project preparation support to cities. Ma. Victoria Antonio from UCCRTF moderated the interactive discussions. 

The session was led by CDIA in partnership with UCCRTF and ADPC.  

The Asia-Pacific Urban Forum has been the leading platform for sustainable urban development in the region for the past thirty years. APUF-8 was organized by ESCAP and Suwon City, in strategic partnership with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of the Republic of Korea, and in cooperation with UN-Habitat, Habitat for Humanity International, and CityNet as well as a range of supporting partner organizations.  

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Photos:

Launching of the flagship report: “Crisis Resilient Urban Futures: The Future of Asian and Pacific Cities 2023”

Parallel session on “Bridging the Gap: Strategic Urban Governance Approaches Towards Inclusive and Resilient Cities in Southeast Asia.”

Parallel session on “Unlocking Finance for Climate Adaptation and Resilience: Bottlenecks and Opportunities”

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