Penang Platform to Accelerate Sustainable Urbanization, SDGs in Asia-Pacific Cities
UN Photo/Kibae Park
story highlights

Among other issues, the Penang Platform focuses on collaboration to accelerate SDG implementation in cities.

UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif said cities must be better planned, managed and financed for improved resilience and to meet citizens’ needs.

The Asia-Pacific Mayor’s Academy is being established to support new mayors with access to expertise, greater awareness of regional resources, and a support network to help with urban sustainability initiatives.

17 October 2019: The Seventh Asia-Pacific Urban Forum (APUF-7) has concluded with the establishment of the Penang Platform for Sustainable Urbanization, which seeks to leverage the strengths of cities and urban development organizations to support local, regional and national governments in achieving the SDGs and New Urban Agenda (NUA) in the region.

The Forum, which convened in Penang, Malaysia, from 15-17 October, emphasized the critical role of the region’s cities in achieving the SDGs, given that they generate over 80% of gross domestic product (GDP) in many Asia-Pacific countries. The conference also acknowledged that cities face increasing demands on public services, infrastructure and the environment, given that, in 2019, the Asia-Pacific region became majority urban for the first time, with more than 2.3 billion people living in cities and an additional 1.2 billion people expected to live in them by 2050.

With proper urban planning and innovative, local thinking, cities can be the solution.

Addressing the Forum, UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif said cities must be better planned, managed and financed for improved resilience and to meet citizens’ needs.  Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji, said urban centers are taking on a larger role in achieving the SDGs, particularly with respect to climate change. He noted that, with proper urban planning and innovative, local thinking, cities “can be the solution.”
 
The Penang Platform focuses on: collaboration to accelerate SDG implementation in cities; integrating the use of tools, models, research and evidence of good practices; transforming access to innovative urban financing sources through new partnerships; and increasing political sustainable urbanization commitments.

During the first phase of the Platform from 2019 to 2023, the Asia-Pacific Mayor’s Academy is being established to support new mayors with access to expertise, greater awareness of regional resources, a support network to help with urban sustainability initiatives, and annual intensive “boot camps” and ongoing peer-learning.

APUF-7 also registered voluntary commitments for the first time, which are expected to deliver concrete results by 2023 and will help increase investments and impactful initiatives for implementing sustainable urban development in the region. The online voluntary commitment platform will remain open until 15 December 2019.

The Future of Asian and Pacific Cities’ report 2019, launched at the Forum, cites natural resource management, climate change, disaster risk and rising inequalities as major urban development challenges in the region. The Asia-Pacific Urban Forum, held every four years since 1993 and organized by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UN-Habitat, is the largest regional gathering of urban stakeholders. [UN-Habitat Press Release on Opening of Conference] [ESCAP Press Release on Opening of Conference] [ESCAP News Story on Penang Platform for Sustainable Urbanization] [UN-Habitat Press Release on Following Closure of Forum] [APUF-7 Website]


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