Southeast Asian cities pledge significant GHG emissions reductions during Ambitious City Promises closing ceremony

The local governments of DKI Jakarta, Indonesia, Pasig City, Philippines, and Hanoi, Vietnam committed to groundbreaking local climate action plans that are expected to create 46 million tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions, collectively, by 2030 during the closing workshop of the Ambitious City Promises (ACP) project.

Held on June 25, 2021, the event saw cities pledge to implement each of their city-level climate action plans, with national government and stakeholder group representatives on hand. These plans, called City Promises, were one of the project cities’ major productions over the 4.5 year-long partnership with ICLEI ‒ Local Governments for Sustainability through the funding of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU)’s International Climate Initiative (IKI) program.

The ACP project formally began in 2017 and involved a total of nine local Southeast Asian governments: the three model cities above along with the satellite cities of Marikina and Parañaque, Philippines; Bekasi and Tangerang, Indonesia; and Soc Son and Son Tay, Vietnam. Through three key features—stakeholder engagement platforms, climate action pilot projects, and city-to-city learning and exchange opportunities—ACP capacitated the cities to develop their own climate targets as well as the corresponding strategies towards their achievement.

ICLEI Secretary General Mr. Gino Van Begin welcomed the participants to the Ambitious City Promises closing ceremony, giving them a brief background on the project’s inception and journey.

ICLEI Secretary General Gino Van Begin noted his optimism for the project’s legacy. “Through the experience of these cities, we envision a future that brings community stakeholders, local governments, and national governments together towards pursuing climate actions that are even more ambitious than the existing targets to ultimately achieve climate neutrality by 2050,” said  Van Begin.

ACP produced a cumulative 32 climate strategies, more than 1,200 engaged citizens, and over 900 local stakeholder-pledged climate actions across more than eight urban sectors, including energy, transport, and waste. The ceremony saw the discussion of the cities’ insights from ACP, the declaration of acceptance of the project outputs, and the exploration of opportunities for future collaboration.

Dr. Vera Rodenhoff, BMU Head of Division for International Cooperation on Environment, Energy and Cities, Cooperation with OECD, explained the critical role of cities all over the world in mitigating climate change.

Dr. Vera Rodenhoff, BMU Head of Division for International Cooperation on Environment, Energy and Cities, Cooperation with OECD, underscored the importance of local climate action: “Cities are decisive actors in reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement as they are responsible for 3/4 of global energy-related CO2 emissions.” She added, “But cities cannot do it alone. National governments must create an enabling environment that will allow cities to address climate change. We need horizontal and vertical cooperation among actors at different levels.”

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto (bottom right) accepted the project outputs and commited the city to sustaining the project outcomes. He was joined by Mr. Yuli Hartono, Assistant Deputy Governor DKI Jakarta for Environmental Affairs (upper right), and Ms. Luu Thanh Chi, Vice Director of Hanoi DONRE (bottom left).

In his speech, Pasig City Mayor Mr. Vico Sotto mirrored this sentiment, saying “Moving forward, we know that cities will be at the forefront of climate action worldwide. As such, even though this project has come to a close, we hope to keep pushing forward with the Promise of Pasig by working together, engaging all stakeholders to strengthen our local, national, and international climate actions.”

Representatives of DKI Jakarta and Hanoi also emphasized the need for stakeholder involvement in climate action. They explained that through inclusive consultation, planning, and implementation, the GHG reduction targets outlined in the City Promises can be met more efficiently. 

The Ambitious City Promises closing ceremony was attended by representatives from ICLEI, BMU, Seoul Metropolitan Government, the model and satellite cities, and stakeholder groups and partners.

Ms. Le Thanh Thuy, Hanoi Department of Natural Resources and Environment Head of Project Management & Communication, explained “Hanoi is committed to reducing its GHG emissions. We want to proactively respond to the challenges to ensure green economic development. We will also strive to mobilize financial and technical support to contribute to the Promise of Hanoi in line with the Paris Agreement.”

This was strongly supported by Dr. Hayu Prabowo, Leader of Interfaith Coalition and Head of Environment and Natural Resources Body at the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI). Dr. Prabowo represented the various stakeholder groups engaged in developing the City Promises. He highlighted the enormous value of incorporating religious leaders, who serve as trusted anchors for Indonesian communities.“With the various climate risks that Jakarta is facing, the Promise of Jakarta needs to be a collaborative effort with all stakeholders. Houses of worship play an important role in climate action. They are integrated into the everyday life of the community throughout Indonesia. They are important to changing the practices of people towards environmentally-friendly lifestyles.” 

Such commitments from stakeholder groups will be the key catalysts of these Ambitious City Promises. Just as the Promise of Seoul banked on engaging 3.5 million residents to reduce Seoul’s GHG emissions, so too do the local governments of DKI Jakarta, Pasig, and Hanoi hope to involve their over 20 million citizens in fulfilling their pledges. Through these grassroots approaches, inclusive, sustainable, and truly impactful climate action is on the horizon.

Learn more about the Ambitious City Promises project HERE.

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