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In our cities, climate-related disasters disproportionately impact the poor, while women and children struggle to access essential urban services.

Cities have always been dynamic hubs of culture, education, economic growth, and opportunity. Most importantly, they serve as centres of social interaction that attract residents and visitors alike.

It is no surprise, then, that Asia and the Pacific have become predominantly urban in recent years as people seek greater opportunities and services in cities of all sizes.

These urban areas range from coastal communities in the Pacific to mega-cities like Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, as well as smaller towns and emerging urban centres, each reflecting the region’s unique diversity.

However, the megatrend of urbanisation has not come without its difficulties. Many of the global crises, including the Covid-19 pandemic, the increasing effects of climate change, biodiversity loss, and of pollution, have converged within our cities.

These challenges have exposed long-standing issues such as inequality, urban poverty, and the lack of access to affordable housing and essential infrastructure.

In our cities, climate-related disasters disproportionately impact the poor, while women and children struggle to access essential urban services. Moreover, a lack of affordable housing affects the poor and the middle classes alike, and inadequate infrastructure frequently leaves persons with disabilities behind. These challenges also hinder progress toward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its goals.

During the pandemic, when cities shut down, economic activities of all kinds suffered seemingly irreparable harm. Yet, we have come to realise that a sustainable future for Asia and the Pacific is intrinsically linked to our cities.

We must take the necessary steps to address existing urban challenges and plan for urbanisation that is inclusive and resilient to face future shocks and crises. Fortunately, we have the knowledge and tools to achieve this. ESCAP, UN-Habitat and partners have developed a new flagship report, Crisis Resilient Urban Futures: The Future of Asian & Pacific Cities 2023.

This report, through an analysis of the crises and their effects, provides practical guidance across four key thematic areas for inclusive urban policies, partnerships, and innovations:

First, urban and territorial planning remains the foundation of how all cities manage their growth and plan urban services. We have seen how crises can disrupt these systems, highlighting the importance of holistic urban planning that prioritises multi-use, compact development, low-carbon transportation and mobility, affordable housing, and efficient service delivery to create safe, sustainable, and livable cities for all.

Responding effectively to the climate emergency must be a priority, and cities are well-positioned to lead innovation and new practices for low-carbon and resilient pathways. Resilient cities engage all stakeholders, from the most vulnerable communities to civil society and policymakers at the local and national levels, working together to co-develop solutions.

In a digitally connected world, urban digital transformations and smart city technologies, if managed effectively, can improve operational efficiencies, bridge the digital divide and ensure access for all.

Finally, the multiple crises have emphasised the urgency of safeguarding urban finances. And as no city can navigate these challenges alone, robust multi-level governance, supported by transparent public frameworks for intergovernmental transfers, is necessary. More stable policies and incentives can open doors to private sector investment.

Recovery from any shock or crisis takes time and collective action. We must ensure that our urban areas guard against future risks while building safe, sustainable, and livable communities putting us back on track to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

The eighth Asia-Pacific Urban Forum (APUF-8), being held this month between 23 and 25 in Suwon, Republic of Korea, serves as a vital platform to share urban solutions and enhance partnerships to address the multitude of challenges.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

Quelle/Source: Deccan Herald, 16.10.2023

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