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22 February 2024, 12:15 - 12:30 Indochina Time / Bangkok | By invitation only

Theater, United Nations Conference Center, Bangkok, Thailand

Background and Context.

The Asia-Pacific region continues to experience rapid urbanization, a trend expected to persist in the years to come. Urban development in this region significantly impacts the prospects of achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Presently, half of Southeast Asia's population resides in urban areas, and an estimated additional 70 million people will inhabit Southeast Asian cities by 2025. Urbanization stands as a vital driver of economic growth in Southeast Asia, with 80% of the region's GDP stemming from its cities. Meeting the needs of this population poses substantial challenges for the countries here. In response, governments in the Asia-Pacific region are prioritizing sustainable urban development to address rapid urbanization challenges and economic growth, seeking solutions for social inclusion and environmental sustainability while preserving and accelerating SDG achievements.

In this context, Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) emerge as crucial processes to expedite the 2030 Agenda and SDG achievement at the local level. VLRs identify opportunities, gaps, and challenges in specific regions, guiding actions towards comprehensive long-term planning strategies. In an increasingly urban world, VLRs serve as vital tools supporting and informing sustainable, inclusive, and resilient urban development. In the Asia-Pacific, these tools are increasingly pivotal for new and emerging cities, offering a unique opportunity to establish sustainable development practices as fundamental groundwork for their inception and growth.

This side event aims to explore opportunities and challenges in developing new and emerging cities by applying sustainable development principles. For example, in Indonesia, the new national capital is planned to be built in the heart of the Kalimantan rainforest, with a significant commitment to preserving 75 percent of the designated delineation area as green open space. Experts will discuss how strategic urban planning, influenced by Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs), must address the impacts of climate change, limitations in local investment, and challenges in implementing socially inclusive urban policies. By sharing experiences in the development of new cities and localizing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across various cities, regions, and countries, this event encourages both regional and international cooperation.

The event provides a platform for various local governments, supported by international partners, to share experiences in report development, discuss the correlation between Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) and VLRs, integrate urban development measures into national policy strategies, and establish participatory planning structures for citizens, the role of new cities, and the effective utilization of SDG localization for sustainable development by 2030.

22 Feb 2024
Soft launch

The soft launch will take place at the exhibition area on the ground floor of the UNCC Building. 



Opening session

Welcoming Remarks

  • H.E. Bambang Susantono, Head of Nusantara Capital City, Indonesia
  • H.E. Armida Salsiah Alisyahbana, Undersecretary of United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Bangkok, Thailand
  • H.E. Srinivas Popuri, Chief, UN Habitat Office in Bangkok, Thailand.
Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion

“The Rise of New and Emerging Cities in Asia: Leveraging VLRs for a Sustainable Urban Future”


  • Ms. Dr. Diani Sadiawati, SH. LLM, Expert Staff of Sustainable Development Goals, Nusantara Capital City, Indonesia 
  • Mr. Thanadorn Phuttharak, PHD, Mayor of Udon Thani City Municipality, Thailand 
  • Mr. Ashok Kumar Byanju Shrestha, Mayor of Dhulikhel, Nepal 
  • Mr. Shamuhammet Durdylyyev, Mayor of Arkadag City, Turkmenistan 


  • Mr. Omar, Lead, SDG Localization, Sustainable Urban Development Section, ESCAP


Q&A and Discussants from the floor


  • Dr. Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi, Secretary General, UCLG ASPAC

for more information, please contact

Subregional Office for South-East Asia + 66 22 88 2902 [email protected]