The Seventh Asia-Pacific Urban Forum (APUF-7) concluded today with the establishment of the Penang Platform for Sustainable Urbanization - a dynamic new partnership to leverage the strengths of cities and leading urban development organizations to support local, regional and national governments in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and New Urban Agenda in Asia and the Pacific.
Over 5,000 urban stakeholders explored future-oriented solutions in the three-day Forum co-organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), Urbanice Malaysia, Penang Island City Council and State Government of Penang.
Given that a majority of people in the region are now urban dwellers, cities hold a critical stake in sustainability as epicentres of SDG acceleration and achievement. Yet, while providing opportunities for livelihoods, education and poverty reduction, municipalities are also grappling with the increasing demands on public services, infrastructure and the environment that accompany urban growth.
The Penang Platform brings together an alliance of partners to address these multi-faceted issues through a holistic CITI pathway: Collaborate to accelerate implementation of the SDGs in cities, Integrate the use of tools, models, research and evidence of good practices, Transform access to innovative sources of urban financing through new partnerships, and Increase political commitments for sustainable urbanization.
The 14 founding members of the Penang Platform are 100 Resilient Cities, Penang Island City Council, CityNet, Asian Coalition for Housing Rights, Commonwealth Local Government Forum, European Union International Urban Cooperation Programme (IUC), Huairou Commission, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies Japan (IGES), The Rockefeller Foundation, United Nations Development Programme, UN-Habitat, ESCAP and Urbanice Malaysia.
“Connecting cities with tailored technical assistance, generating action-oriented research and evidence on urban solutions, and enhancing access to innovative financing models are important focus areas of the Penang Platform. The Platform will support collaboration among partners to take forward the development pathways identified in The Future of Asian Pacific Cities report, which will lead to more safe, inclusive, resilient and sustainable cities across the region,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana on the occasion.
One of the concrete actions under the first phase of the Penang Platform from 2019 to 2023 is the Asia-Pacific Mayor’s Academy, which supports newly appointed mayors with access to expertise, greater awareness of regional resources and a support network to assist in the acceleration of urban sustainability initiatives. Mayors at the beginning of their term are well-positioned to benefit from the Academy’s resources, which include week-long intensive "boot camps" held on an annual basis coupled with ongoing peer-learning.
“We have learnt that many good practices are emerging in countries and cities on how to take the New Urban Agenda forward and achieve the SDGs. However, in many cases, policy frameworks and an enabling environment to support such initiatives are lacking. We must build partnerships and align our systems and frameworks to accelerate implementation of sustainable urban development. Let us keep the Asia-Pacific region at the forefront of sustainable development,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-Habitat Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif in her closing remarks.
“Sustainability should be viewed as the goal of society. Urban areas engaging in sustainable development increase their capability and flexibility to adapt and recover when faced with changes,” highlighted H.E. Ms. Hajah Zuraida Kamaruddin, Minister of Housing and Local Government, Malaysia while presenting key outcomes of the Forum on urban resilience, urban planning, smart cities and urban finance.
“APUF-7 was a fitting platform for various cities to share their successes in sustainable urbanization while taking cognizance of the need to include grassroots communities in the process of policy making. We believe this is the way forward for governments to work with the people in policy making so that they will take ownership of the programmes that we introduce. This is one of the ways to ensure sustainability,” said H.E. Mr. Chow Kon Yeow, Chief Minister of Penang.
For the first time, APUF-7 also registered voluntary commitments as one of the outcomes of the Forum. The commitments, which must deliver concrete results by 2023, will serve to increase investments and impactful initiatives for the implementation of sustainable urban development at various levels. At the Forum closing, ADB, IUC, IGES, ESCAP, Kumamoto City, Partners of the Pacific New Urban Agenda and United Cities & Local Governments Asia and the Pacific declared their commitments to turn conversations and partnerships into meaningful action for the region’s cities. The online voluntary commitment platform will remain open until 15 December 2019.
For more information on the Penang Platform visit: https://www.apuf7.org/initiatives/ppsu
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