Seoul, South Korea: Select Southeast Asian cities took center stage during the Seoul Mayors’ Forum on Climate Change (SMFCC) last 24 October 2019. During a parallel session titled “Translating ambitious visions into inclusive climate strategies: Experiences from Southeast Asia,” the Ambitious City Promises (ACP) project shared its key learnings from two years of implementation.
Launched during the SMFCC 2017, the ACP is implemented by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability in Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam. Through direct intervention with nine cities in these three countries, the project identified three key ingredients in deploying bottom-up models of climate action planning: raising ambition, fostering inclusion, and facilitating peer-to-peer exchange.
In his welcome remarks, ICLEI Secretary General Mr. Gino Van Begin emphasized that this is an opportune time to strengthen climate action plans of cities that put premium on citizen engagement throughout the formulation and implementation process. He also shared that the ACP project draws inspiration from the Promise of Seoul launched by the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) in 2015. The Promise of Seoul is characterized by an ambitious climate action plan that engages the commitment of 10 million Seoul residents.
ICLEI Southeast Asia Regional Program Manager Mr. Ranell Martin Dedicatoria presented the project’s overall progress highlighting how ambition, inclusion, and peer-to-peer exchange are embedded in the activities implemented. He further explained that by the end of the project, cities are expected to deliver their respective City Promises characterized by ambitious climate actions to reduce their city’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through citizen-led and -driven initiatives.
Participating local governments joined a panel discussion moderated by Mr. Sunandan Tiwari of ICLEI World Secretariat. These included the cities of Pasig and Parañaque in the Philippines; Hanoi, Soc Son, and Son Tay in Vietnam; and the host city, SMG. A representative from ICLEI Indonesia also served as panelist.
Ms. Le Thanh Thuy of Hanoi’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment shared that the ACP project helped push for the inclusion of mitigation actions in updating the city’s climate action plan. Previously, it was mostly focused on adaptation strategies. Furthermore, she said that the conduct of continuous dialogues with stakeholders in the formulation process helped build trust between the citizens and the government.
On the other hand, Mr. Robert Anthony Siy of Pasig City’s Transport Development and Management Office said that the city is continuously setting up policies and infrastructures to enable the city’s population to shift towards low carbon mobility. Pasig has expanded the allocation and improvement of networks of bicycle lanes and parking spaces as well as added bicycle units for rent along the city’s central business district. “The city’s goal is to induce a shift in the mindset of Pasigueños to move away from the use of private car or car-centric development towards a preference to low emission mobility options, Mr. Siy explained.
Ms. Happy Tiara Asvita, Local Government Associate of ICLEI Indonesia explained that DKI Jakarta considers the religious group as an important sector in the formulation of its action plan. She said that the participation of religious groups was vital because religion determines the citizens’ lifestyle in the city. Through religion, citizens are able to understand that environmental protection and conservation is already ingrained in their values. Their involvement is crucial in reaching DKI Jakarta’s ambitious target of reducing 30% of its GHG emissions by 2030.
The satellite cities of Parañaque, Soc Son and Son Tay all acknowledged the benefits from the peer-to-peer exchange with SMG. Mr. Isabelo Mojica, Assistant Head of the City Environment Office in Parañaque City said that “as a relatively young office dedicated to environmental protection and management… the peer-to-peer exchanges helped us draw inspiration in coming up with legal basis in promoting environmental plans and programs.”
In closing, Director General for Air Quality Planning Bureau of SMG Ms. Ami Koo expressed her happiness in seeing that nine Southeast Asian cities from three countries are drawing inspiration from Seoul’s experience through the ACP project. She mentioned that in 2021, the second version of the Promise of Seoul will be launched to monitor all efforts and initiatives made by SMG.
Apart from the sharing of project cities, the session also saw the launch of Pasig City’s EcoPledge platform. The platform aims is to provide a feedback mechanism where stakeholders of Pasig can commit to pledge statements that describes a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle. The platform also serves as an awareness-raising campaign about local climate action and how one Pasigueño can support this through a more sustainable lifestyle.
The ACP project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU) through the International Climate Initiative (IKI) program. The project commits to reduce GHG emissions through participatory and inclusive local climate actions in selected cities in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
*Photos included in this article are taken from the official website of the Seoul Mayors Forum.