Mayors’ Forum: Urban Green Growth in Dynamic Asia
20 Oct 2013 - 20 Oct 2013

The City of Kitakyushu is known for its efforts in transforming itself from one of the most polluted cities in Japan to one of the leading environmentally friendly cities, which was selected as an eco-model city by the national government in 2008. In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of municipal administration, the City of Kitakyushu, Japan, organized a series of conferences on sustainable cities were organized during the month of October, which was designated as “Eco Month.”

UNCRD, together with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the City of Kitakyushu organized the Mayors’ Forum- Urban Green Growth in Dynamic Asia, which was a part of the International Conference on Future of Cities, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Japan, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and OECD. Governors, Mayors, and Managers from nine municipalities and cities (Vientiane, Lao PDR; Johor Bahru, Malaysia; Kawasaki, Japan; Ahmedabad, India; Yokohama, Japan; Surabaya, Indonesia; Milwaukee, USA; Bangkok, Thailand; and Hai Phong, Viet Nam) including member countries and cities of UNCRD-led EST Initiative, 3R Initiative, and IPLA were invited to the Forum.

The Forum comprised of three Roundtables, Roundtable I: Green growth policy frameworks and instruments for Asian cities; Roundtable II: Key implementation issues for urban green growth; and Roundtable III: Knowledge sharing and collaborative actions, where UNCRD took a lead in facilitating the discussion in the Roundtable II.

In the discussion on the key drivers for implementing urban green growth, and how to encourage political commitment and leadership, it was noted that raising public awareness is one of the key points as the citizens’ concerns will urge political commitments and actions. It was also discussed that in order to raise public awareness and to receive public support to the policies, city authority would need to explain the concerns of city issues to the citizens in depth, so that citizens would understand the weight of the policies and cooperate for their implementations.

Mayors also noted that Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) is a good example to mobilize private finance for green growth. It was also emphasized that the PPP arrangement could be attractive for the private sector, and the importance of transparency in the tender.

As a case of city-city cooperation in wider-area to address the issues transcend to neighbouring cities, City Summit of the Greater Tokyo Area, of which Kawasaki and Yokohama are members, was introduced. Facing a common problem in air pollution emitted by vehicles, the Mayors of the Greater Tokyo Area agreed on restriction on diesel vehicles to reduce the emission on NOx, without waiting for national regulation to be set. This initiative contributed greatly to reduce air pollution. It was suggested that such city-city cooperation and partnerships be encouraged as the urban issues become more complex and transboundary.

In addition, UNCRD organized the Under Secretary-General’s Dialogue with Mayors and City Managers along with these conferences, prior to the Mayors Forum. It was a closed meeting aiming at direct interaction between the USG, who is in charge of the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda, and high-level city officials from twelve cities from eight countries, invited by UNCRD.

A wide range of urban issues, including rapid urbanization, solid waste management, implementation of 3R, transport, housing, and urban-rural relationship were discussed, and participants learnt a lot from each others’ experiences.

More information (external links): Kitakyushu city website, Programme (OECD website)
More on UNCRD Environment Programme: EST, 3R, IPLA

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