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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

17 July 2023

As we have heard here at HLPF, we are behind in the achievement of SDG11. We need to manage urbanization much more effectively to ensure that our cities are designed to meet the needs of residents while not contributing to adverse environmental impacts. 

Many of our traditional cities are resource and energy-intensive, generate significant GHG emissions, face severe urban air pollution and congestion, and struggle to meet the challenges of adequate housing, waste management and efficient urban mobility. 

It is thus encouraging to see countries exploring and piloting new approaches to urban development, including the application of urban planning principles that encourage compact, mixed-use development that is more resource efficient and reduces travel distance (and reliance on transportation), energy consumption and provides urban services more efficiently.  Deploying smart technologies, including ICT infrastructure, intelligent transportation systems and charging infrastructure, are important elements if we are to ensure low-carbon urban futures that are critical to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. 

Key to achieving a low-carbon future is ensuring that power systems, buildings and infrastructure are designed to leverage renewable sources and that there is a transition away from fossil fuels, requiring decarbonization and a broad, long-term carbon neutrality strategy.

Urban mobility is at the core of a well-functioning city. It is significant that as a foundational principle, the city’s transport strategy includes only electric vehicles and electric public transport in conjunction with well planned urban blocks and districts. 

Integrated land use and transport planning can also encourage higher non-motorized transport mode shares, such as walking and biking, that will complement the shift from private vehicles to public transport use.

In addition, the development of smart transport systems will ensure more flexibility in providing transport services by dynamically optimizing travel routes and services, which will reduce travel time and distance, and decrease transport emissions and congestion subsequently.

With the first electric vehicle project being piloted and smart mobility measures implemented, including the Smart Traffic Light system in Arkadag to improve transport efficiency, Turkmenistan is moving towards a sustainable direction to achieve its zero emission city goals.

We will continue to support the digitalization and decarbonization of transport in Turkmenistan through its various projects and initiatives, including the development of a regional road map to support regional cooperation for the wider deployment of sustainable smart transport systems, the Asia Pacific Initiative on Electric Mobility and the Regional Cooperation Mechanism on Low Carbon Transport.

As Arkadag continues to develop, I encourage the city to capture the lessons from its development and utilize technologies to build data and information on the success and/or gaps from its planning and development.

A successful city must first ensure that it meets the needs of its citizens. Citizen engagement and participation should be a key element of the continued growth and management of Arkadag City. Citizens should be encouraged to provide feedback and ideas for the continued development of the city, with a focus on promoting transparency and accountability. 

One way of capturing the lessons and monitoring the progress of Arkadag in meeting its objectives is to consider conducting a Voluntary Local Review (VLR). While still early in the city’s history, periodic VLRs can provide a mechanism for government and stakeholders to work together, measure and showcase progress toward the SDGs, build accountability, and identify and address any opportunities for additional innovations that may arise in a consultative and people-centered manner.

I am hopeful that the lessons from Turkmenistan and Akadag will be shared with others. Sharing experiences is critical if we are to ensure that future cities leverage best practices and innovations and that all cities and communities are designed to be safe, resilient and sustainable communities.

This side event is a start, but I encourage sharing through other regional exchanges and take the opportunity to invite you to join the 8th Asia Pacific Urban Forum (23-25 October 2023 in Suwon, Republic of Korea).

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