Today, more than half of ASEAN people live in urban areas and an additional 70 million people are forecast to live in ASEAN cities by 2025, making sustainable and inclusive urbanisation a key priority to achieve the objectives of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and to raise the living standards of local communities. ASEAN Member States (AMS) recognise the crucial role of urbanisation for sustainable development and have enacted a pro-active approach to support cities’ endeavors.
The ASEAN Sustainable Urbanisation Forum (ASUF) represents a key ASEAN initiative to support the establishment of a multi-stakeholder eco-system for knowledge sharing and policy development. ASUF builds on the guidelines of the ASEAN Sustainable Urbanisation Strategy (ASUS) as the key driver to encourage a constructive dialogue around the priority areas for sustainable urban development across ASEAN.
ASUF presents the opportunity to come together to further connectivity and partnerships and share experiences and lessons learned on sustainable urban solutions in alignment with the New Urban Agenda toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in ASEAN.
ASUF is envisaged as an inclusive platform to engage with a broad range of stakeholders, starting from ASEAN cities and including relevant ministries and government agencies across AMS, multi-lateral organisations, private sector, financial institutions, NGOs, academia, associations and experts from relevant networks.
ASUF aimed to build on findings and guidance of ASUS. ASUS identified 6 areas and 18 sub-areas of sustainable urbanisation and it further refined the focus on the most relevant 7 priority sub-areas that applied across ASEAN.
The thematic sessions focused on the identified priorities for ASEAN cities, providing the opportunity to expand and enrich the discussion with perspective and experiences of the participants.
Opening Session & Policy Roundtable “Progress Toward the Implementation of the MPAC 2025 and ASUS”
Cooperative and connected cities: Connecting with cities to leverage each other’s expertise and learning experiences to overcome the challenges of urbanisation is an opportunity to co-link learning on urban themes, strengthen regional production networks, and promote inclusive growth.
Financial assistance: Financial issues are challenging for project implementation in cities. From a survey conducted, the main challenge appears to be access to finance, with a secondary challenge being developing a robust governance and implementation strategy to support implementation.
Recommendation to accelerate the implementation of ASUS towards advancing sustainable urbanisation development: It is crucial to build a shared understanding of the benefit of the ASUS framework. The more cities will adopt it and showcase examples of their success, the more successful ASUS will be. Regional events, such as ASUF, and other initiatives, represent key platforms to share best practices, knowledge and information.
SDGs Localisation and Voluntary Local Review in ASEAN
Ensuring coherence of policies, strategies and action plans: This is key to integrating the economic, social, environmental and governance dimensions of sustainable development at all stages of local, sub-national and national policy-making that enables accelerated process towards meeting SDGs targets.
Inclusive engagement and communication plans: Inclusivity is essential in spreading the correct message on the local agendas towards sustainability in advancing the SDGs progress without leaving no one and no place behind.
Achieving the SDGs is not an act of a single entity: Crosscutting goals and targets require concerted efforts across all stakeholders. This multi-stakeholder approach is the way to localize the ambitious global targets and ensure that
Promoting Gender Equality, Disability and Social Inclusion in Cities
Community-based organisations: People in vulnerable groups in cities often prefer and feel more comfortable in reaching out to community-based organisations rather than having direct contact with governmental institutions. These communication mechanisms should be prioritised and given more visibility to encourage participation from the community.
Political commitment: To advocate for women empowerment and gender equality, adequate policies should be in place and government officials with leadership should be encouraged to work on awareness creation and concrete planning and development for those who are vulnerable.
Policies and real scenario gap: The project proposal and implementation phases of urban projects need direct support from people with first-hand experiences in a marginalised community, to hear the missing voices from mainstreamed processes, and to tackle the roots of core problems.
Financing Opportunities for Urban Development
SDG Metrics: The SDGs and their associated metrics are key evaluation criteria against which investors measure bankable projects, and proposals should consider and develop detailed proposals keeping performance against the SDGs in mind.
Public-private partnerships: PPP models can be used for both local commercial projects as well as middle-sized projects in ASEAN. Singapore’s PPP-based sewage and drainage projects are some of the examples of successful PPP initiatives.
Capacity Building: Capacity building in terms of PPP has two tiers: The first tier has to focus on building a pipeline of technical capacity. The second tier has to focus on developing the fundamentals of good infrastructure and the ability to prioritize needs.
COVID-19 Recovery in ASEAN
Community-based strategies underpin recovery: Without community-based responses that include and involve vulnerable groups, pandemic response strategies will fail to support those communities that depend on them the most.
Multisectoral governance and coordination: The importance of multisectoral, multi-governance and coordinated actions between all stakeholders and across vertical and horizontal lines is that it enables cities to move away from isolated action and develop a more targeted and regional response
Inclusive & Equitable Growth-Digital Payment Solutions to Enhance Financial Inclusion
Synergies of multi-stakeholder partnerships: These can include government, private, and especially civil society help to encourage innovations and build trust in communities, which drive adoptions and behaviour change contextually.
Women’s representation is critical to advance financial inclusion: Women contribute to several professional sector and in many AMS they play a crucial family education and create a greater impact at the community scale.
Mainstreaming technology to create an accessible environment: This should be ensured by multi-stakeholder collaboration to create an inclusive society, leaving no one behind.
Sustainable Urban Mobility
Integrated transport planning: An integrated approach is necessary to address current transport issues. The involvement of different actors and sectors can help to devise a plan that is informed by informative and inclusive discussions. To add, having baseline information on what is happening on the ground is a start to knowing how the transport sector is addressing their needs. Collaboration among public departments and social groups can provide efficient results.
Bridging gaps: Gaps and lack of connections between different transport modes must also be taken into consideration. Integration between public transportation and active transit must be addressed through regulations and in the design of public infrastructure. Promoting road safety benefits all.
Housing & Home
Affordable housing should be integrated into wider urban planning: For any project and any goal concerned with trying to create more affordable housing, the city should consider how the project could fit the purpose of scalability within the city and target the neighbourhood. This can be achieved by improving the city’s capacity for integrated urban planning and enhancing the city’s knowledge on housing markets, housing finance, and community needs.
The synergy of multi-stakeholder partnerships: For any affordable housing project, mobilising the participation of all relevant stakeholders may not only bring potential benefits on providing more options for housing finance, but also improve the project implementation and create project transparency.
Education – Support Digital Skills Development
Main growing market areas related to IT and digital skills: Skills that are increasingly important include: (1) Technical Skills: software developer, user experience designer, quality analyst etc.: (2) Business Skills: project manager, data scientist, product manager, digital marketing manager etc.; and (3) Creative Skills: web designer, copyrighter, social media manager, and user interface designer.
Need for alignment between education and industry: Industry, especially the digital industry, is changing at a fast pace, and so education institutions must align with the industry to be able to produce an appropriately skilled workforce.
How the youth could contribute to the digitalization of education: Youth are important actors in bringing initiative and engagement of stakeholders, government, and the local community in the digitalization of education. It is very important for young professionals to be recognized for their expertise and to be empowered so that they play their role in promoting technological knowledge across communities.
Enhancing Urban Safety and Security
Technology has to come with an awareness of digital rights. Digital rights are the most crucial factor behind the application of digital solutions in urban development. It has to start from a strong policy framework and data governance that supports citizens’ privacy, to education that helps people to understand their rights in this new digital world.
Inclusion and empowerment of marginalized groups in all processes. When public safety technology is implemented, some groups may have more difficulties accessing the technology. Meanwhile, some groups may be more vulnerable to technology abuse or biases in artificial intelligence. Thus, it is important to include and empower different groups of people in the society including children, youth, women, people with disabilities, and the elderly
Water, Waste & Sanitation – Enhance Solid Waste Management Systems
Creating social enterprises for communities: Creating benefits for communities through social enterprises helps to generate income and become self-sustaining. Mr Gupta used the example of BORDA (Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association) in Indonesia to illustrate community participation, an organization that has implemented community-based solid waste management projects in Indonesia, where material recovery facilities are supporting communities to generate income.
Innovation policies in Waste Management: There is a need to introduce extended producer responsibility-based policies into legislation to encourage people to be more involved in recycling systems. Dr. Chanchampee noted some countries like Singapore have initiated EPR on e-waste management and discussions and knowledge-sharing on EPR is ongoing in Thailand. However, these are still fledgling policies, and all stakeholders should learn to understand the EPR framework – it is an important long-term consideration.
Urban Resilience – Develop Flood Management Systems
Digital solutions for resilient flood infrastructure: Digital solutions can be integrated into flood risk management plans to collect more robust data and to integrate real-time responsive systems into the planning process.
Risk reduction through planning: Planning for both the immediate and lingering effects of floods is key to strengthening flood risk plans, as is collaboration and cooperation with all stakeholder groups, including vulnerable communities.
Sustainable and innovative financing mechanisms: Innovative financing mechanisms for flood infrastructure should be based on a precautionary and safety-first approach towards disaster risk reduction, and new and innovative financing mechanisms exist and will continue to evolve to meet the needs of flood projects.
Implement Public Transport Plans
Together with the city presenters, panellists and participants, the training session collected insights and shared technical and strategic considerations on approaching the development of public transport systems. Some key considerations for the development of improved transport plans are detailed here:
Baseline data: Baseline data helps to determine what the city needs, in terms of availability of sufficient transit routes, frequency of transit options, peak and off-loading on the transport system, etc. Data supports decision-makers and highlights local issues for context-sensitive planning. For example, land use and topographic conditions (such as the high altitude in Sa Pa) should help determine the modes and focus of transport systems. For cities with limited available data, existing and open-sourced data should be the starting point-for example, in General Santos, household census data was used as the baseline to determine travel behaviour. Transport use cases can also be incorporated into land use and data gathering systems like the census, to help plan for current and future transport scenarios.
Design and plan for vulnerable groups: It was stressed how public transportation provides opportunities to people – when public transport is made affordable and adequate, economic opportunities are more readily available, travel costs are reduced, and this can also result in income savings. Inclusive transport systems provide access to social and economic opportunities across the city, and especially for those with limited resources to spend on commuting costs. Social cohesion and well-being can only improve if people from across backgrounds are collectively able to travel and take advantage of opportunities.
Transport enables businesses to grow: Public transport increases access to jobs and economic activities, supporting an enabling business environment: Sa Pa identified public transport development as key for strengthening its tourism industry.
Proposed activities: The proposed programs and projects that cities can consider to address their transport challenges: from developing a baseline survey on the actual transport situation to the development of a City Sustainable Transport Mater Plan. Through the ASUS framework, alignment with the beneficiaries’ needs and interests can lead to data sharing and documentation, and further develop capacities in terms of human resources.
Introduce Digital Solutions for Urban Safety
Together with the presenters, panellists and participants, the session collected insights and shared technical and strategic considerations for addressing safety and security through technology.
Define what a safe and secure city means: Create indicators for the project against which progress can be measured, and define the methods and sources for acquiring and working with data to:
Sense. During the feasibility phase, data can be gathered from a variety of sources including social media and open-source platforms. The Tomohon Command Center began to build data integration by using big data. Analyse. Data can help understand human behavior (daily, traffic, etc.), especially by using technological tools to support analysis (e.g. AI, IoT). Act. Implement based on the gathered data.
Leverage and use analytical tools and technology: Acquiring data is a challenge-both in terms of the technology and the people required to participate in and process the information. Leadership is a key component in both encouraging the use of analytical tools and technology and in ensuring data sensitivity is protected and prioritized.
Integrating and coordinating data across sectors: The government can signal or authorize integration through local to national level initiatives. For example, through the One Data, One Indonesia national government decree, the Tomohon Command Center encouraged the mayor to issue policies on the implementation and integration of their application with other departments in Tomohon. Pursuing opportunities to work with other sectors, particularly in areas of need, is also a key consideration.
Enhance Solid Waste Management Systems
Together with presenters, expert panellists and participants, the session collected insights and shared technical and strategic considerations for creating integrated and efficient urban waste management systems:
The potential of private sector stakeholders: They have the ability and potential to expand the circular economy, particularly given the public sector’s limited experience in operations and sustainable management. Hoi An City, in Vietnam, is working with the private sector to build a material recovery facility, with the support of the tourism association, while in Malaysia, the private sector is given concessions and subcontracts to provide services across waste collection, recovery, treatment and recycling. These are both solutions that can be considered, with the caveat being that private sector providers must have a license from the solid waste management department, to ensure standardization of services. Private actors should also be better integrated into the public policy process.
Develop a clear SWM roadmap: A SWM that also demonstrates how various and key actors can engage in target actions is an important consideration to keep in mind. This will help encourage and guide informal and private sector participation in the waste management chain, such as in treatment technologies that can range from energy recovery to bioplastic production.
Waste-to-resource: In Thailand’s bigger cities, plastics are being converted to energy, or refuse-derived fuel (RDF). Such mechanical and natural biological treatments in disposal facilities are key to managing the end of the waste chain.
Context-situated collection models: Residents could bring separated material to a designated collection point where it is stored before being transported to a processing facility. Prepared bags of separated materials are usually collected from home by hand carts, who then deliver to transfer stations before it is transported to the processing facility. Using green-colored bags for organic waste will help to distinguish between waste streams even if the bags are mixed in the collection vehicle. There are also several design options for collection vehicles: bags of separated materials placed in the same compartment of a truck, a single truck that has two compartments (organic and non-organic), or separate trucks transporting separate materials individually to dedicated destinations. Trucks can also have compacting capacities, an innovative in-situ solution.