From 20-23 September 2022, CityNet held the 9th CityNet Congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The four-day event was packed full of activities and was all the more exciting for being the first event where CityNet members were able to gather together physically after the pandemic. Under the theme “City for All: Activating Access for Urban Growth,” the Congress focused on an increasingly important theme following the pandemic — inclusivity.
The pandemic has highlighted how creating sustainable and resilient cities is impossible if cities do not take into consideration the most vulnerable populations. It is these most vulnerable populations that have been isolated further by the pandemic, and to achieve the 17 SDGs, it is imperative that we bring these vulnerable populations along with us in the journey. This concept took the spotlight at the Congress as numerous mayors and leaders brought it up in their speeches and conversations. As part of the effort to include all CityNet members, all three legislative meetings were also streamed online, to allow those who were unable to travel to participate virtually.
The 9th CityNet Congress held two sessions of the Executive Committee Meeting, the 9th General Council, parallel sessions, cluster and national chapter meetings, a city talk, and social and technical visits.
During the General Council, CityNet elected new office bearers for the term 2023-2026. Seoul Metropolitan Government proudly claimed the title of President City once more, reaffirming their commitment to sustainable urban development and the SDGs. Kuala Lumpur City Hall and Makati City Government were elected as the First and Second Vice-Presidents, respectively. Yokohama City continues to hold its position as the President Emeritus. The nine members of the Executive Committee elected for the 2023-2026 term were All India Institute of Local Self-Government, Busan Metropolitan City, Colombo Municipal Council, Denpasar City, Iloilo City, Incheon Metropolitan City, International Climate and Development Institute, Lalitpur Metropolitan City, and Plus Arts. Muntinlupa was re-elected as Auditor, and Mr. Vijay Jagannathan will continue to serve as CityNet’s Secretary-General.
The 42nd Executive Committee Meeting with the new office bearers was an inspiring session as the new office bearers spoke up about areas they hoped to work together on, with help readily being offered by other members.
The SDG Declaration gathered mayors and leaders from CityNet members to declare together their intentions to achieve the SDGs by 2030. Holding hands in an act of solidarity, the mayors announced that they, as leaders of their communities, would usher their cities along in the correct direction to create more sustainable cities. The SDG Declaration was followed by the SDG Awards, which showcased 12 outstanding cases from our members submitted to the Urban SDG Knowledge Platform. Out of these 12, 3 were crowned as the top winners after a tense period of voting — Kuala Lumpur’s SDG Centre (1st), Seberang Perai’s Kota Aur Village (2nd), and Seoul Digital Foundation’s AI Sewer Detection System (3rd).
Parallel sessions, organized by CityNet partners, showcased work of interest to our member cities, fostering discussion and providing yet another platform for knowledge sharing and open discussion. The parallel sessions at the 9th CityNet Congress were hosted by UNESCAP (Shocks and the City: Sustainable Solutions to Overcome Interlinked Urban Crisis in Asia and Pacific), World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (World Bank Group’s Experience with Municipal Solid Waste Management Engagements in Cities, and Implications for Climate Change and Green Finance), and the European Union’s International Urban and Regional Cooperation (Urban Development Cooperation between Asia-Pacific and Europe: Towards Sustainable Cities). Presentations from the parallel sessions will be available at the bottom of the page for download.
At the Cluster Session, members formalized the new leads and co-leads for the three clusters from 2023-2026. For the Climate Change Cluster, Jakarta will serve as Cluster Lead, while Quezon, ASAG, HELP-O, and ICDI will serve as Cluster Co-Leads. For the Disaster Cluster, Makati will serve as Cluster Lead, while Colombo, Matsuyama, Quezon, Taoyuan, ASAG, Plus Arts, and NSET will serve as Cluster Co-Leads. For the SDGs Cluster, KL, Seoul, and Yokohama will serve as Cluster Leads, while AIILSG and HELP-O will serve as Cluster Co-Leads. The Cluster Leads presented their visions for the next four years to a rapt audience.
Meanwhile, during the National Chapter Session, National Chapter Nepal had a chance to meet up in person and connect with each other in person once more, discussing the possibility of the next Congress being held in Pokhara and committing to support each other in moving forward as a National Chapter under CityNet.
Finally, social and technical tours organized by Kuala Lumpur City Hall introduced some of Kuala Lumpur’s best practices and most impressive sites to CityNet members, giving them a chance to witness the beautiful scenery and culture of Kuala Lumpur.
Overall, the 9th CityNet Congress was a great success and an unforgettable experience for many of our members after years of separation. This year’s Congress marked the 35th anniversary of CityNet. Building on its strong work from the last 35 years, CityNet commits to once again to addressing urban challenges, by connecting stakeholders for sustainable urban development, delivering tangible solutions for cities, establishing city-to-city partnerships, capacity building activities, technical expertise consultation, and more.
Hui Qian is a Senior Program Officer at CityNet, where she manages outreach and CityNet Services. Prior to joining CityNet, she worked at ICLEI East Asia Secretariat, with a focus on city-scale research and projects. Hui has a background of Sustainability Science and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Compilation. She obtained a Master of Science in International Cooperation Policy from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (Japan) and a Master of Engineering in International Material Flow Management from Hochschule Trier (Germany). She is experienced in working under multicultural environment with multidisciplinary cooperation.