Photo credits: @sapawargasby
Over 1000 participants from 40 countries gathered in Surabaya, Indonesia, on 12-15 September 2018, on the occasion of the 7th ASPAC Congress, around the topic “Innovation Driven Development for Sustainable Cities”. During three days, mayors, local and regional leaders, international agencies, and many other stakeholders from the local development and international cooperation spheres discussed on practices and the challenges of sustainable development at the local level.
The Congress was also the occasion to elect a new president for the ASPAC Regional Section, the Mayor of Surabaya, Tri Rismaharini. She emphasized the importance "to cooperate and learn from each other with the objective of enhancing people’s lives, fostering human development and create a better world for all”.
President of UCLG, Mpho Parks Tau, via a video address, stressed that the Asia Pacific Regional Section had already proven "to be not just the voice of local governments in the region, but also an important backbone of the global movement”, and that one of the main challenges of UCLG ASPAC was now to further consolidate itself. He also stressed that “no global is possible without local”, and that regional governments needed to generate the means to turn the ambitious Global Agendas and Sustainable Development Goals into a reality, especially for the interest of communities and citizens across the world.
Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, also recalled from abroad that “the fight against extreme poverty and against inequalities is delivered at the front line: in cities”, and that, in spite of the impressive and encouraging economic and social development of the region in the last decade, these issues and challenges still needed to be addressed and harnessed to improve local sustainable development in Asia Pacific.
The outgoing President of the UCLG-ASPAC regional section, and Governor of the Special Self-Governed Province of Jeju, Won Hee-ryong, recalled the major challenges that Asia-Pacific cities and local governments are facing ultimately, recalling that more than a half of the world urban population lives in the Asia Pacific region, where the concentration in cities and megacities is higher than in any other world region, and where very rapid demographic and economic urban growth that would require strategic leadership and new political governance systems are at stake. He highlighted that “global agendas, such as the New Urban Agenda, the 2030 Agenda or the Sendai Framework, are a key to overcome these regional challenges, but that beyond the practical implementation, innovation in this regard were also about making old paradigms evolve”.
Vincent Guérend, Ambassador of the EU to Indonesia, reaffirmed the commitment of the European Union to foster synergies aiming at developing new collaborative spaces and mechanisms, as well as new enabling environments for peer-learning and exchanges of practices or experiences with the aim of making development agendas a reality. He presented a range of European city-to-city cooperation programmes and recalled the opportunity provided by the Congress to “launch new partnerships for innovative and sustainable urban development aiming at tackling global challenges like climate change, migration or inequalities”.
Referring to the election of the New ASPAC president, Bernadia Tjandradewi, Secretary General of UCLG ASPAC, highlighted that “this election is not only a success for the Mayor and for the City of Surabaya, a city which has been very active in the recent years, hosting a number of successful international events including the Habitat III Prep Com II, it is also a success for the whole Asia Pacific Regional Section, and for its citizens”.
Secretary General of UCLG, Emilia Saiz, addressed the Assembly celebrating the great success of the congress and congratulating the new and outgoing leadership, stating that the movement is in good health in Asia and that this was a wonderful present to bring back home. She further called the ASPAC membership to “continue participating in the global organization and to support the development of new governance models that will allow us to make the transition we need in regards to our communities and planet”. The experiences of the region on critical issues such as housing, financing and multilevel governance will be key to influence policy internationally and increase our capacities at the local level.
The 7th Congress was the stage for plenaries, networking events, programme launches and networking events, including the meetings of the Asia Pacific Standing Committee of Women in Local Governments and of the Asia Pacific Committee on Culture in Local Governments and the Expert Committee of the Guangzhou Award.
The UCLG learning team, in collaboration with UN-Habitat, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH (GIZ) held a 3-day long peer-learning on ‘Building a Local Government Alliance for Localizing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction’.
The 7th UCLG-ASPAC Congress also provided the space for the launching, in the South-East Asia region, of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM), the international alliance of cities and local governments aiming at promoting and supporting actions to prevent and fight against climate change, as well as against its direct impacts and side effects for resilient and sustainable societies. A special networking meeting session gave the opportunity to five new Asia Pacific cities to rally the coalition, including Padang (Sumatra, Indonesia), Tanjung Pinang (Sumatra, Indonesia), and Banda Aceh (Aceh, Indonesia).