First Training Course on Capacity Building for Sustainable Urbanization in Asian Countries
14 Nov 2011 - 18 Nov 2011
Nagoya, Japan

Between today and 2050, the world population is expected to increase by 2.3 billion, and the population living in urban areas is projected to grow by 2.9 billion, to a total of 6.3 billion in 2050. To address this challenge of rapid urbanization and in order to contribute to citiesf efforts towards sustainable urban development, UNCRD developed a programme around the Shanghai Manual on sustainable urban development that organizes training courses for mayors and city leaders. In addition to the training course with a focus on Asia, organized by the Nagoya Office, workshops in Africa and Latin America are being planned by the respective regional offices. This is one of the major contributions of UNCRD towards Rio+20 to help galvanize the efforts of local authorities, one of the key constituents of the Major Group in Agenda 21, to make their cities more sustainable.

In the lead-up to Rio+20, the training programme focused on a number of elements that are essential to building a green economy. A module on economic transformation focused on how cities can make the transition to a low-carbon economy. A module on green buildings described how to modernize the built sector in cities by employing renewable energy technologies, adopting energy efficiency measures, and reducing energy and water demand through a range of practical measures. Case studies on sustainable urban transport outlined policies and measures to encourage modal shifts towards public transit and non-motorized transport and away from private motor vehicles. A module on municipal waste management focused on how to reduce, reuse, and recycle the urban waste stream and use it as a source of resources for the city. Finally, another module described how cities can plan and implement science and technology parks to attract high-tech, low-carbon industries to cities.

The Shanghai Manual emanated from the 2010 Shanghai World Expo and was developed by the Division of Sustainable Development (DSD) of UNDESA, in collaboration with the City of Shanghai and in cooperation with a number of United Nations (UN) agencies and international/national organizations. The Manual intends to serve as a practical guidance tool to mayors, urban planners, and decision makers of rapidly growing cities in developing countries. It was launched on 31 October 2011, the anniversary of the closing of the Shanghai Expo.

Following the launch in Shanghai, UNCRD organized a training course in Nagoya for seventeen experts from the major cities of Asian developing countries in collaboration with UN-HABITAT, UNCTAD, and DSD. This was the first training course using the Shanghai Manual. As outlined above, this training course had a strong focus on promoting a new green economy, one of the two themes of Rio+20.


Seventeen senior urban leaders, including mayors, vice mayors, deputy mayors and heads of city departments with decision-making authority for urban development, particularly planning.

Rationale and Objectives

The objective of the training course was to increase the capacities of local governments to plan and implement an integrated set of policies and measures to meet the challenge of the green economy and unprecedented urbanization trends. This entailed integrated approaches to address complex issues related to urban management, water resources, energy supplies, regional land-use planning, management of waste streams, environmental pollution, and climate change-related risks.

Content of the project

- Identification of cities to participate in the project. An outreach effort was launched for fast-growing cities in Asia to order to identify cities interested in creating or revising an urban sustainability plan. Research allowed the project to identify cities in Asia experiencing rapid population growth accompanied by high levels of economic, social or environmental stress. Outreach efforts ascertained citiesf interest in participating in the project and what they expected accomplish through the project.
- Organization of regional training course. The training course invited seventeen participants from Asian cities and focused on training top-level managers. The course also incorporated a field visit to Toyota City, which has model sustainability programmes. The regional training course was implemented by UNCRD, in cooperation with DSD.
- Field visits. Course participants visited Toyota City and Toyota Motor Corporation where sustainability initiatives have been piloted related to sustainable transport, promotion of creative industries, attraction of high-tech industries, etc.
- Evaluation. At the conclusion of the training course, participants were asked to evaluate the training programme.

Course Contents

This training course had a strong focus on promoting a new green economy, one of the two themes of Rio+20. Training materials already developed by DSD covered the following topics: "greening the urban economy," "sustainable urban transport solutions," "green buildings," "ICT and clean technology as drivers for the new economy,h and gmunicipal waste management and the 3Rs".

In particular, the training course revolved around the following topics (names shown in the parenthesis are resource persons):

Introduction (Mr. Mohan Peck, DESA/DSD)
Urban Management (Mr. Lalith Lankatilleke, UN-HABITAT Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific-Fukuoka)
Economic Transformation (Mr. Warren Karlenzig, Common Current, California, USA)
ICT for Smart Cities (Mr. Warren Karlenzig, Common Current, California, USA)
Sustainable Urban Transport (Mr. C.R.C. Mohanty, UNCRD)
Waste Management (Mr. C.R.C. Mohanty, UNCRD)
Culture and Sustainable Cities (Mr. Mohan Peck, DESA/DSD)
Green Buildings (Mr. Mohan Peck, DESA/DSD)
Science, Technology, and Innovation (Mr. Michael Lim, UNCTAD)
Envisioning a Sustainable City (Mr. Mohan Peck, DESA/DSD)
Sustainable Urbanization in Japan (Mr. Katsuaki Takai, UNCRD) and Case Study of Nagoya City , Toyota City , and Kitakyushyu City

Outputs and Accomplishments

The regional training course made contributions to identify feasible menus of policy options related to sustainable cities for Asian countries. This will support national preparations for the Rio2012 conference as urbanization is an emerging challenge that has been identified in the preparatory process for the conference.

Following are the outputs of the project:

- Seventeen trained city managers from participating cities who are capable of planning for and implementing an integrated set of policies and initiatives required for sustainable cities in the twenty-first century. These include themes related to the Rio+20, such as greening the urban economy, sustainable urban transport solutions, green buildings, ICT and clean technology as drivers for the new economy, and municipal waste management and the 3Rs.

The training course accomplished the following:

- Enhanced awareness of participants about feasible and attractive policy options for a green economy for rapidly growing cities in Asia;
- Increased exchanges between the local and national levels of government in the participating countries, thus contributing favourably to the preparation of the Conference by the Member States themselves; and
- Enhanced national capacity to identify common challenges and opportunities associated with a green economy and sustainable urban development.

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