From October 17-20, 2016, UN-Habitat held its most anticipated flagship conference for the 3rd time: Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador. This conference is celebrated every 20 years to define the way urbanization should be guided. These recommendations are defined in the New Urban Agenda that was adopted at the end of the ceremony which brings two years of consultations and negotiations among all kinds of urban stakeholders to conclusion. Being one of the most rapidly urbanized regions, Asia will be greatly affected in the next years, and the New Urban Agenda will have an impact on this.
Some of the key issues included in the New Urban Agenda are promoting a stronger role of local governments in urban development, a progressive view of equity and rights, and using urban planning to promote urban sustainable development that includes social, environmental, and financial elements. These are all areas in which CityNet has been active in different ways by reinforcing the capacities of cities and local governments from various different corners and stages of development in Asia.
Due to its broad and active work with cities, CityNet was invited to actively participate in several events during Habitat III. Represented by Mr. Sayel Cortes, CityNet role in Habitat III started with facilitating a pre-event on October 16, organized by UN-Habitat on “New Settlements and Host Communities: Planning for Sustainable Integration of Refugees” where relevant topics on forced migration, internal displacements, and other issues were addressed by experts from Africa and Asia mainly.
It was then followed by a presentation on the benefits of the Urban SDG Knowledge Platform at the networking event “Why Seoul? Inclusive and Transparent City Development: Sharing Seoul’s Policies and Best Practices” organized by Seoul Metropolitan Government and UNDP on October 18. This was an important opportunity to promote the online knowledge platform, that UN-ESCAP, Seoul Metropolitan Government and CityNet are currently developing, which will be launched in Bangkok on November 30.
CityNet also participated as panelist in two sessions: “City Diplomacy: Connecting Global Cities Strategically” on October 19, which is part of a multidisciplinary research effort to understand how city networks work and how they can work better; and “Housing for All: An Indian Perspective” that gave a few examples of the policies India is doing to reduce informal settlements, where CityNet shared the result of the Affordable Housing workshop held in March this year.
Finally CityNet had the opportunity to facilitate a three-hour training session on “Urban Planning for City Leaders” where UN-Habitat experts on urban design, law, and finance explained how these three factors come together to plan a city. In addition, Habitat III provided a space for CityNet to meet new and old partners, as well as a few members to advance conversations that CityNet has been advocating particularly the Safer Cities Program and CityNet’s participation in the World Urban Campaign.
In conclusion, Habitat III has marked a historical moment for cities. With this new chapter starting, the challenges to implement the New Urban Agenda, including the specific actions, metrics, or mechanisms that are needed, are here. Asian cities will definitely be a global reference in this process, and CityNet is here to support them.
Many Asian cities are rapidly urbanizing and confronted with various urban challenges. One major challenge, which is interlinked with multiple sectors such as transport and urban energy generation is air pollution.
According to the World Health Organization, air pollution now accounts for more than 7 million premature deaths globally each year. Given the magnitude of the health impacts, there is a pressing call for action by the international community. Solutions to air pollution are particularly important at the city level, where the impacts are directly felt and where the main sources of pollution are often found. Seven out of ten cities in developing Asian countries have unhealthy levels of air pollution (CAA, 2016). As the share of urban population is projected to increase in almost all countries in Asia an integrated air quality management approach is necessary to address the challenges linked to air pollution.
Recognizing the scale and urgency of the issue, the two international air-quality meetings – the 17th World Clean Air Congress (WCAC) and the 9th Better Air Quality Conference (BAQ) – were jointly held from 29 August to 2 September in Busan, Korea. The event’s theme was “Clean Air for Cities – Perspectives and Solutions”. Upon Invitation by Clean Air Asia (CAA), CityNet Program Officer Felix Kalkowsky attended the event and participated in CAA’s advisory group meeting on clean air certification as well as in the third advisory group meeting for the Integrated Programme for Better Air Quality in Asia.
Furthermore, Felix Kalkowsky delivered a presentation on good examples of city-to-city cooperation and CityNet Services at the pre-event Mainstreaming Air Quality in Urban Development through South-South Twinning. The event served as a workshop for Asian Development Bank’s Technical Assistance (TA) 8751 “Mainstreaming Air Quality in Urban Development through South-South Twinning” that aims to address challenges of air quality management (AQM) in Asian cities by promoting long term-planning and identifying strategies for South-South twinning to facilitate sharing and learning of good urban AQM practices in Asia. Representatives from NGOs and governments from China and India participated in the session, which brought cities together to share their current AQM challenges, needs, and good practices.
The interactive networking workshop Fostering City-to-City Cooperation, organized by United States Environment Protection Agency (US EPA) and chaired by CAA and C40 Cities, enabled participants to share experience in developing successful partnerships and to identify key areas for future cooperation with a particular focus on how cities can best meet both air quality and climate change objectives.
Together with representatives from international organizations, local governments such as Malang (Indonesia), Santa Rosa (Philippines), Peshawar (Pakistan) and CityNet members Kathmandu (Nepal), Cebu and Baguio (Philippines), Felix Kalkowsky discussed challenges and solutions in regard AQM. City-to-city cooperation encourages cities to take collective actions and is part of CityNet’s core activities – particularly throughout the recently re-launched programme CityNet Services.
On September 1st 2016, Seoul Foundation of Women and Family with the support of Seoul Metropolitan Government, CityNet, and Huairou Commission conducted The 2nd Asian Women’s Network Forum in Seoul Women’s Plaza, Seoul, Republic of Korea. The forum serves as a platform of urban policy makers in Asia, community activists, NGO practitioners, academics and experts could discuss the different range of issues in Asia. ‘Building Inclusive and safer cities for women’ was chosen as the big theme of this year’s forum with the aim to bring the discussion of safe and inclusive cities for different groups of women.
The forum was divided into two sessions that cover two major topics including ‘Building a city safe from disasters’ for the morning session and ‘Building a city safe from violence’ for the afternoon sessions. Academics, experts, and researchers from different backgrounds and institutions were present to provide knowledge and insights on each topic. The forum was opened by the Opening Remarks from K.H. Angela Kang, the President of Seoul Foundation of Women and Family and followed by the Welcoming Remarks from Yang Sook Park, the Chairperson of Health & Welfare Committee, Seoul Metropolitan Council.
Different case studies and practices related to the topic of safe cities and disasters in the context of Asian countries such as Japan, The Philippines, and South Korea were presented to the forum during the morning session. Among the list of speakers, Umetani Junko (Special Adviser to the Hyogo Governor for Regional Revitalization & Women’s Empowerment), Corazon Juliano-Soliman, Former Secretary of Department of Social Welfare and Development of the Philippines, and Sayel Cortes (Safer Cities Program Coordinator of CityNet) provided the specific cases on the current practice and engagement of building inclusive and safer cities from disaster and violence particularly for women as the target group of the programs. The session was chaired by Sri Husnaini Sofjan, the Senior Program Strategist of Huairou Commission.
As the representative of CityNet as a supporting organization, Mr. Cortes provided a presentation of the current efforts from CityNet in building safer and inclusive cities for all of their habitants. Mr. Cortes also touched specifically the importance of women within the big picture of the issue, particularly in relation to the Role of Safer Cities for Women in the New Urban Agenda. In addition, Mr. Cortes also presented the work and collaboration between CityNet, Seoul Metropolitan Government, and the UN-Habitat on Safer Cities Program.
Following the first session, the Mayor of Seoul, Won Soon Park was also present and giving the Keynote address entitled “Building Inclusive and Safer Cities for Women” before the start of the second session. The Mayor began by saying, ‘Women are living more safely, but we have a long way to go.’ Mr. Park referred to the recent murder of a woman near Gangnam station and the outpouring of emotions and notes in response to this tragedy, noting one message that stood out to him – ‘I don’t want to be afraid just because I’m a woman.’ Mr. Park stated that these acts of violence toward women must not only be recorded, but must also drive policy surrounding women’s safety, explaining that safety is directly related to gender equality. He touched on the policies that have been implemented within Seoul via the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) campaign and other initiatives including: safe parcel delivery, more streetlamps, safe return home campaigns, and more.
The second half of the forum focused on women’s safety from violence, with speakers Pamela Philipose (Board Member of Jagori) speaking about the internal response to the 2012 Delhi gang rape that received much international attention, Laura Perez (President of Metropolis Women International Network) speaking about the commitment of local level participants regarding violence in urban spaces, and Norliza Abdullah (Director of Town Planning, Municipal Council of Seberang Perai) speaking from a case study perspective of what Seberang Perai has done to address violence against women. The session was chaired by Eun Shil Kim, a professor of Ewha Womans University, and further comment and questions were made by Jong Soo Park (Director of Women’s Policy Division, Seoul Metropolitan Government) and Joy Da Hae (Project Manager of Improving Gender Equality and Safety for our Village, Seoul Women Association).
The forum was closed with the signing of the Recommendation of the 2nd Women’s Network Forum entitled ‘Building Inclusive and Safer Cities for Women’ to be further discussed during the October 2016 Habitat III conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Quito, Ecuador. The document proposes recommendations for local governments, local communities and citizens, and international networks and was created through the collaboration of:
K.H. Angela Kang, President of Seoul Foundation of Women and Family, Seoul, Korea
Kyu Sook Um, Assistant Mayor of Women and Family Affairs Office, Seoul Metropolitan Government, Seoul, Korea
Umetani Junko, Special Adviser to the Hyogo Governor for Regional Revitalization and Women’s Empowerment, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan
Corazon Juliano Soliman, Former Secretary of Department of Social Welfare and Development of the Philippines, Manila, Philippines
Pamela Philipose, Board Member of Jagori, Delhi, India
Laura Perez, President, Metropolis Women International Network
Sayel Cortes, Safer Cities Program Coordinator, CityNet
Sri Husnaini Sofjan, Senior Program Strategist, Huairou Commission
Technical Cooperation among Cities of Developing Countries (TCDC)
The CITYNET TCDC program is an essential means of promoting south-south cooperation, boosting the collective self-sufficiency of developing economies and increasing the effectiveness and longevity of development projects. Delivered through three regular modes of exchange – technical advisory services, team consultations and study visits, TCDC offers CITYNET members ready solutions to immediate problems.
CITYNET’s City-to-City cooperation program involves the transfer of technical expertise, exchange of information, and cross-fertilization of ideas between developing cities. A proven vehicle of effective development assistance, CITYNET has facilitated over 100 collaborations across the Asia-Pacific region and in the process fostered new political allegiances, created participatory discussions, encouraged reciprocity, and leveraged cost-sharing agreements.
Kuala Lumpur Regional Training Centre
The Kuala Lumpur Regional Training Centre (KLRTC), also known as CIFAL KL, is a joint initiative between UNITAR, UNDP, CITYNET, Veolia Environment and the City of Kuala Lumpur. Established in 2003 to promote the exchange of expertise in urban planning and environmental management, KLRTC helps city managers and practitioners across Asia and the Pacific address urban challenges through problem and case-based learning.
Specializing in themes such as Integrated Urban Planning, Urban Infrastructure Financing and Sustainable Mobility, KLRTC programs facilitate the transfer of knowledge from one city to another, heighten the capacity of city officials to sustainably manage the urbanization process and support post workshop action planning.