Ambitious SEA cities take center stage during ICLEI SEAS COP23 side event

Southeast Asian cities share ambitious mitigation strategies and plans at COP 23 Cities and Regions Pavilion.

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability Southeast Asia Secretariat (ICLEI SEAS) hosted a side event highlighting selected Southeast Asian cities’ progress towards low carbon and resilient urban development during the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) Cities and Regions Pavilion held in Bonn, Germany. The session showcased the initiatives of Pasig City in the Philippines, DKI Jakarta in Indonesia, and Hanoi City in Vietnam in terms of addressing urbanization vis-à-vis changing climate.

The three participating cities are part of ICLEI’s Ambitious City Promises (ACP) project, supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) through its International Climate Initiative (IKI). The ACP aims to develop and deploy bottom-up models of climate action planning with a strong focus on climate change mitigation and citizen engagement.

Representatives from Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MOEF), League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), and German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) also joined the panel discussion.

Cities at the Forefront of Local Climate Action

Deputy Governor for Spatial Planning and Environment of DKI Jakarta, Mr. Oswar Muadzin Mungkasa discussed key issues of a rapidly urbanizing Jakarta, citing their efforts to improve public transportation by developing rapid train systems in the city. Directorate General for Climate Change, MOEF of Indonesia, Ms. Nur Masripatin noted that the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) of Indonesia covers both adaptation and mitigation strategies and in the cities, “there are significant potentials for mitigation in the energy sector.”

Taking the discussion to the recent administrative merger of Hanoi with the province of Ha Tay in 2008 which tripled Hanoi’s size and doubled its population to 6.2 million, Country Liaison Officer of Vietnam for the ACP project, Ms. Hoàng Thị Hương Giang shared that Hanoi “sees the importance of employing comprehensive infrastructure planning, cultural preservation, and inter-city cooperation in local climate action planning and urban development.”

Meanwhile, Head of City Environment and Natural Resources Office, Pasig City, Philippines, Ms. Raquel Naciongayo shared that in her city, the concept of Bayanihan is being promoted to “enhance the community spirit within the city”. Pasig City was commended for its Bayanihan sa Daan: Sustainable Transport Program by the Galing Pook Foundation. The Galing Pook Awards recognizes local governments programs that put programs innovative models of good governance. The annual event lauds local governments that has implemented ingenious solutions to common problems. Future plans, according to the city official, include hybrid solar panels installation in schools and free public transport in the city’s central business district.

COP 23 Negotiations: What it means for the Cities

According to Ms. Masripatin, while the climate negotiations are ‘slow,’ it is progressing and they [country representatives] are optimistic that targets will be achieved. This year’s COP aims to produce an implementation guideline of the Paris Agreement. She reiterated the importance of local dialogues in achieving a country’s NDCs stating, “Climate change is with almost all SDGs, in many cases development and climate change don’t go in harmony, stakeholders need to work together.”

On the other hand, Legazpi City, Philippines Mayor and Focal Mayor for the Environment, Climate Change, and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management of the LCP, Mr. Noel Rosal talked about balancing mitigation and adaptation activities in the lens of city planning noting that, “We have to remove the perception that cities have negative impacts to the environment, but [let us] focus on the positive side… infrastructure, waste management, transportation – all of these have to be carefully studied by every city.” It is through sound urban planning and strict implementation of local policies that cities are able to contribute to the achievement of national development goals including the NDCs.

Mr. Mungkasa, on the other hand, raised an important point of integration among similar organizations working towards the same goals, saying, “Too many [organizations] could be confusing us [local governments], they [international organizations] need to talk to each other.”

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