The Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific Forum in Bangkok from 11-13 February 2015 was the first in a series of congress platforms that aim to promote partnership and actions for urban resilience in the Asia-Pacific. An addition to the Resilient Cities – The Annual Global Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation series by ICLEI in Bonn Germany, the forum tries to drive more attention to one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change.
This conference gathered about 300 participants from 30 countries, including city mayors/vice mayors and municipal officials, national government offices, academic institutions, NGOs and international organizations. There were 14 Vietnamese attending the event, including representatives from UNISDR, GIZ, ISET, NISTPASS, ENDA, Da Nang CCCO, and Hue Centre for International Development. The event included five plenary sessions, nine parallel sessions and four side events, discussing different aspects of urban resilience in Asia-Pacific such as political context, urban risks, planning and implementation, financing, adaptation through nexus, collaboration, research-policy linkage, and pro-poor UCR. It also featured the official launch of the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN), a membership-based platform aimed to support individual practitioners, and build partnerships with institutions and country networks for climate change resilience across Asia. This was a very successful launch with bout 200 new members signing up for the network during the event.
The event concluded with the Bangkok Call for Action towards Urban Resilience in Asia-Pacific, when the Mayors and municipal leaders in the conference called for a more concerted and coordinated action to build resilience and adapt to the intensifying impacts of climate change. The Call for Action will be delivered at the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan 14-18 March 2015. ISET would like to share a few take-away points from this event to our UCR-CoP community:
- Urban problems are becoming more complex, which requires solutions to constantly evolve. As part of this evolving process we need to start engaging a more diverse range of stakeholders, especially the most vulnerable communities on the ground.
- Cities need to invest in resilience or pay for recovery.
- Urbanization should be considered as part of the engine of growth.
- There is a gap to be addressed in building resilience, that is the gap between planning and implementation, and between law and reinforcement.
- There is no shortage of funding, there is just a lack of financial engineering. We need to create system that allows money to flow where it needs to.
- There is a lack of national urban policy across countries.
- There are two different lanes that can link research with policy change—the activist and the engagement lanes—and it is important to maneuver carefully between these two lanes.
- There is an increasing need to address the inequality question in working with resilience, because the most important characteristic of resilience is whether it includes the most vulnerable in the city.
- Resilience process must make sure that those most at risk must have the most privilege rights, including access right as stated in the UN’s Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992).
- Sustainability of resilience actions depends on community ownership of the process.
It is hoped that the commitment and determination expressed by city leaders, as well as the level of risk concern raised by all stakeholders at the conference will lay the foundation for deliberate and inclusive actions to build climate resilience for Asian-Pacific cities. You can learn more about the first Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific Forum by following the link here, and download the summary of the event here.
Tho and Danielle – ISET-Vietnam