ESCAP, UN-Habitat Publish Guidebook for Future Urbanization in Asia-Pacific
Photo credit: Maid Milinkic
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The report elaborates on four priorities that are critical for realizing the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda: urban and territorial planning; urban resilience; smart and inclusive cities; and urban finance.

The sustainable urban development pathways comprise “a guidebook for future urbanization” in the Asia-Pacific region.

14 October 2019: Building cities sustainable enough to meet future needs will require new ways of thinking and working, as well as new kinds of multi-stakeholder initiatives and partnerships, according to a flagship report published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UN-Habitat. The publication explores future policy pathways for policymakers and stakeholders to “reimagine the built and natural environments in the region’s cities.”

The report titled, ‘The Future of Asian and Pacific Cities: Transformative Pathways Towards Sustainable Urban Development,’ describes 15 policy pathways across four priorities to guide future urbanization: urban and territorial planning; urban resilience; smart and inclusive cities; and urban finance. Taken together, it argues, these pathways comprise “a guidebook for future urbanization” in the Asia-Pacific region, which became majority urban in 2019 for the first time, with more than 2.3 billion people living in cities. The report maintains that these pathways are critical for realizing the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda (NUA), and evaluates their implications for achieving inclusive sustainable development in cities by 2030.

The Asia-Pacific region became majority urban in 2019 for the first time, with more than 2.3 billion people living in cities.

On urban and territorial planning, the report provides an overview of the state of planning and recent successes in the region. Recommended pathways include: integrating sustainability and quality-of-life targets into planning to future-proof investment in cities; co-producing, with citizens, planning solutions that align technological investment with local government capacities; and identifying urban regeneration and growth strategies that optimize urban-rural and city-region collaborations to drive sustainability and investment.
 
On urban resilience activities, as well as shocks and stresses, such as natural disasters, economic reliance on single industries, and an aging population, suggested pathways include:

  • scaling up use of nature-based solutions and resilient infrastructure in integrated urban and climate change planning;
  • understanding the informal economy and supporting the urban poor to be change agents;
  • creating and strengthening partnerships to bring more attention and resources to long-term urban resilience strategies; and
  • utilizing big data sources to connect communities, cities and regions and improve technological literacy.

On smart and inclusive cities, the report addresses the digital revolution’s implications for cities, and the region’s adoption of smart city key performance indicators and plans, combined with new technologies to manage city services. However, it also notes potential limitations of overreliance on technology, including failure to address the digital divide. Suggested pathways include: improving smart city governance; encouraging technology firms to become more civic minded and create sustainable smart city solutions with social enterprises; adopting cybersecurity safeguards; developing smart mobility investment; and expanding viable smart city funding mechanisms.
 
On urban finance, the report focuses on types of finance most likely to offer sustainable and inclusive solutions for the region, and suggests the following pathways: scaling up public-private partnerships (PPPs) and community schemes to transition to localized housing finance solutions; adopting land-linked financing mechanisms that leverage urban growth to build people-centered urban infrastructure; and employing congestion charging and environmental user fees. 

The report was released on the eve of the seventh Asia-Pacific Urban Forum, which convened in Penang, Malaysia, from 15-17 October 2019. [Publication: The Future of Asian and Pacific Cities 2019: Transformative Pathways Towards Sustainable Urban Development] [Publication Landing Page]


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