RCAP 2017 brings together cities, experts, and development partners to take on the discussions of the impacts of COP23 in urban resilience

RCAP 2017 immediately follows the COP23 and brings the discussion of NDC implementation at the local and regional level.

The first day of Resilient Cities Asia Pacific Forum 2017 started with a successful note as cities, experts, and development partners take on discussions on urban resilience and climate change adaptation.

ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability in partnership with Ministry of Planning and Investment, Government of Vietnam, Asia LEDS Partnership, and LEDS  Global Partnership (GP)  hosted the Resilient Cities Asia Pacific 2017 in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam with an aim to forge partnerships and the ultimate goal of identifying implementable solutions and creating lasting impacts for cities in the region.

The day kickstarted with an inaugural session to signify the forum’s commencement and reflect on the key messages and legacy of RCAP 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand and RCAP 2016 in Melaka, Malaysia.

ICLEI Secretary General Gino van Begin noted the significance of events like the RCAP as these serve as critical inputs to what is being discussed at the global level. “The ideas we generate, the issues that we talk about, and the solutions we formulate here are ultimately taken up in global processes specifically in terms of resilient cities. We are formulating a feedback loop system and this helps us integrate the local and regional governments into the global discussion,” van Begin said. Underscoring the role of local actors as the Paris Agreement entered into force in 2016, van Begin shifted the focus on local and regional governments saying they have “secured a clear leadership role in the advancement of climate action.”

ICLEI Secretary General Gino van Begin reiterated the important role that cities and regions play in scaling up climate action.

Speaking from a city’s perspective, Mayor Kinlay Dorjee of Thimpu, Bhutan reported their active participation to RCAP in the last two years. Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness is mainstreamed into the institutions of Bhutan and they believe that one can pursue happiness through urban resilience. Thimpu is focusing on waste management making sure to sequester methane from their wastes to reduce carbon emission. Social resilience is also a key issue as Mayor Dorjee says, “We need to work as a team to achieve our goal to become more resilient and fight together youth issues and climate resilience together.”

Director General of Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment Pham Goang Mai offered the adaptation context for this year’s host city, explaining that it is a key issue since Ho Chi Minch will reach 10 million inhabitants in the near future. The forum is a chance for them to learn how to build a resilient megacity from their peers especially Bangkok.

Linkaging the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the New Urban Agenda into prompting resilience in Asia Pacific Cities, Curt Garrigan, Chief of UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) put forward that resilience makes connection across many development goals; as such, achieving the SDGs is also a matter of looking into resource mobilization. Having an integrated approach in planned urbanization presents opportunities for innovation. Garrigan pointed out that resilience has a unique way of connecting urban issues together.

Reiterating integration and the need for cooperation, LEDS GP Director said, “We need to work on the development of clean energy systems, diversify energy supply and promote more distributed energy system. More distributed energy system would make cities more resilient. Investment in the energy system and climate change is investing in resiliency.”

Representatives of past host cities reflected on the previous fora held Bangkok and Melaka. Supachai Tantikom from the Bangkok Metropolitan Government reported that since the first RCAP, Bangkok worked on their Resilience Planning and was able to launch this in 2016. They are now in its implementation phase and while this proves to be challenging, it is also a worthwhile endeavour.

Zainal Hussin, the mayor of Melaka, proudly shared the Melaka Call which urges for the national government to enhance their support to the subnational government in ten action points.

“Together with ICLEI, we adopted Melaka Call which urges for the national government to enhance their support to subnational government in ten action points. Urban researchers, the private sector, local governments and young professionals adopted the Melaka Call to create a lasting impact in urban development,” says the Mayor.

Lastly, Mr. Emani Kumar, Deputy Secretary General of ICLEI World Secretariat and Executive Director of ICLEI South Asia welcomed everyone to the forum and expressed his gratitude to all participants, partners, sponsors, colleagues, and others.

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