IUC represented at APUF-7 conference in support of sustainable urban development


The International Urban Cooperation (IUC) presented a series of cross-regional dialogue sessions at the seventh Asia-Pacific Urban Forum (APUF-7), which took place from 15-17 October 2019, in Penang (Malaysia). The Forum resulted in the launch of a new Platform to support cities in Asia and the Pacific in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda, and launched a new publication, developed in partnership with the European Commission in the context of the IUC Programme. These are in line with the IUC core assertion that cross-border cooperation is critical to sustainable and resilient urban development.

IUC sessions at APUF-7 spanned a leaders dialogue on urban resilience; a deep-dive examination of circular economy approaches; an interactive session to promote innovation schemes that drive urban resilience; and a three-day exhibition highlighting IUC cities across Europe and Asia. In addition, IUC Asia held interactive meetings and events as part of their clusters on Smart Cities and Circular Economy, and developed a training on municipal finance for Malaysian IUC Pilot Cities.

The Leaders Dialogue notably presented the urban resilience chapter of the newly launched “The Future of Asian and Pacific Cities 2019: Transformative Pathways Towards Sustainable Urban Development” report – developed by UN HABITAT and UN ESCAP in partnership with the EU’s IUC-Asia. The chapter – which was presented by lead researcher Shobhakar Dhakal – introduced the future that the publication paints of Asian-Pacific cities that are smart, resilient, and inclusive.

A deep dive session then explored how circular economy approaches can strengthen urban resilience. IUC Asia presented the approach of their Circular Economy cluster, which was complemented by practical examples presented of IUC activities in Japan, Malaysia, and Indonesia. These illuminated how, for example, cities in Japan are using a “Circulating and Ecological Economy” approach to build self-reliant societies in the face of challenges such as climate change and demographic shifts, as seen in the ageing populations of Japanese cities. Malaysia and Indonesia provided examples of waste management and material flow optimisation across a wide range of industrial clusters.

The IUC programme also made use of an interactive format to address climate resilience challenges faced by two cities: Semarang (Indonesia) and Gwangju (Korea). After the two cities presented their challenges, representatives from European peer cities Vilnius (Lithuania) and Riga (Latvia) discussed their own tactics to overcome resilience challenges, and the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), UN-Habitat and United Nations ESCAP shared other Asian cities’ experiences. This set the stage for roundtable exercises moderated and supported by IUC Helpdesks in India and Asia. Participants gathered ideas on how to address Semarang and Gwangju’s challenges head-on, given their contexts. This focus on cities – including European and Asian city presentations – reinforced that resiliency challenges are often the same across geographies, but action implementation depends on local realities.

Throughout the event, the leading work of the European Union, IUC programme, and its cities’ urban labs was on display at a highly informative and appealing interactive exhibition, known as the “EU IUC booth.” The exhibition included four IUC cities – Barcelona (Spain), Hamburg (Germany), Rome (Italy), and Stuttgart (Germany) – displaying their smart city solutions. Passers-by were able to test their technologies by, for example, putting on virtual reality gear used in Rome to showcase heritage sites. The booth also included an introduction to the EU Urban Agenda and the EU Smart Cities and Communities projects, highlighting the importance of integrated climate action, innovation and urban sustainability approaches to reach a low carbon and resilient future in Europe and Asia.

Also at the EU IUC booth, representatives from cities across the EU, China, Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia were involved in two cluster meetings dealing with the circular economy and smart cities, respectively. The meetings – opened by the EU Commission’s DG REGIO – allowed non-Chinese city participants to understand the cooperation approach implemented in the Chinese IUC Clusters, and the focus on pilot projects. The meetings culminated in cross-Asian networks being created among participants.

Ultimately, APUF-7 successfully catalysed action towards more resilient and sustainable cities in Asia, the Pacific, and beyond. The event reaffirmed the core IUC tenant that cross-regional and city-to-city cooperation is key to action. IUC is proud to have been part of APUF-7, which will not only support more sustainable cities through the release of the Future Cities Report, but also via the landmark launch (on the final day of the conference) of a new platform for sustainable urbanisation, called the Pengang Platform.


Header image by APUF-7