Just two weeks after the conclusion of the annual global climate summit (COP23) in Bonn the 3rd Asia Pacific Forum on urban resilience and adaptation began in Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam. The initiative brought 29 countries together to discuss their respective countries Nationally Determined commitments (NDCs) and the tasks ahead. If COP 23 represented a confrontation of sorts between the developing and developed countries on the issue of equity, the forum in Vietnam saw a greater demand for integration between the national plans and the sub-national and city level plans for the effective implementation of the commitments.
Several organisations and NGOs from the attending countries also participated in the event. Main discussion agenda was the action plan for implementing the NDCs and trying to find a way to implement it. Countries in the Asia Pacific region described the action plan and the challenges being faced by them which is a) to measure emissions; b) to report it; c) to find resources for green growth development; and d) to invest more in mitigation and adaptation for the loss which seems inevitable in the region.
The Vietnamese delegation discussed the challenges and their action plan which is being effectively implemented because the integration between their national government and the cities is better thanks to the political system existing in their country. They have planned for the action on their NDCs and also the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The country has been able to integrate the overall development strategy in the country with the climate change adaptation goals. Also, socio-economic linkages are worked out and many players roped in for inducing such a growth. The major chunk of investment is coming from the public i.e. the state, and even private investment is being targeted to achieve the goals. Similarly, the national representatives from Sri Lanka, Laos, Cambodia and other countries placed their national objectives and the efforts unleashed by them. But a common issue found in these nations was the screaming demand not just of resources at the city level but also the integration which was missing largely. The ALP forum may be used as a network of peers’ learning exercise to improve the development strategies – this was a core concern of the conference.
The following challenges in the region were highlighted:
Robust planning processes, linked with sector planning and actions and also demonstration of benefits of resilient strategies.
Finance for government funds and also searching for the other sources including private players.
Commenting on the building of capacities of the regional and city governments and their capabilities enhancement was an important agenda for discussion. In many of the cities integrating the master plan with their development strategies was an important pointer for the actions to be undertaken.
The major point of contention in the discussion happened to be the resources, a given constraint and the overgrowing demand in the cities for energy, transport, services. There is a complete mismatch between the demand and the capacity of the system to perform. For example, the Isher Judge Ahluwalia report describes a sum of more than $500 billion for providing the bare minimum to meet the growing demand of urbanisation in India. The availability is not even 10% of it. The serious question is how to meet this growing demand with the constraint that is witnessed both in the private and public domain. This is a question that will continue to haunt the urban spectrum in the region! Nevertheless, the intervention required is of utmost importance so that the national governments can be impressed upon to meet both the mitigation and adaptation demands.
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