29 Jun 2016
APEC economies focus on inclusive and sustainable urbanisation

APEC High-Level Urbanisation Forum 2016

Commitment to region-wide partnerships to promote inclusive and sustainable urbanization policies was a major outcome of the recent APEC High-Level Urbanization Forum 2016, which adopted the ‘Ningbo Initiative’.

Held in Ningbo, China, over 200 ministers, mayors, entrepreneurs and scholars from the 21 APEC member economies held policy and practice dialogues about urbanisation and sustainable growth, which was the theme of the forum.

Xu Shaoshi, chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission stated that “urbanization is a crucial driver for advancing towards modernization, it has become a cutting edge area of APEC cooperation.”

The APEC regional grouping of diverse economies and geographies* was recognised. Xu Shaoshi spoke of the different stages of urbanisation that “APEC member economies are in, providing “diversity of demands and strong complementarity of advantages”.

“By sharing experiences and best practices, APEC member economies will jointly seize new development opportunities and address challenges related to environment, resources and social governance brought by urbanization.”

An APEC Ministerial Roundtable was conducted and covered issues such as connectivity between Asia-Pacific cities, sustainable urban development and innovation during the urbanization process.

Peru is the 2016 host of APEC and the Peruvian Ambassador to China Juan Carlos Capuñay, spoke of the need for an innovative approach that recognizes culture:

“This Forum helps facilitate the development of entrepreneurship, urban development, as well as mutual harmony and communications between societies and cultures in the Asia-Pacific region.”

The Ningbo Initiative proposes to:

  • promote inclusive and dynamic urban growth
  • improve urban infrastructure
  • build smart cities
  • develop green cities
  • encourage urban regeneration and retrofit
  • drive innovative urban development
  • advocate for good urban governance
  • boost APEC cooperation on sustainable urban development

Follow this link for the Ningbo Initiative in full

Urban Infrastructure Network (UIN)

The Ningbo Initiative marks two years of focus on urbanisation for the APEC economies.

In its report to APEC Leaders in September 2014, the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) recommended the formation of the Asia Pacific Urban Infrastructure Network (UIN) to develop a Best Practice Policy Framework and Action Plans for Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Development.

The purpose of the Framework and Action Plans is to provide a holistic guide for governments at the national and sub-national level in order to assist them in managing the varied and complex challenges of enhancing and building sustainable cities. This work was undertaken by UIN members including experts from industry, academia, think tanks and officials from various levels of government. Three work-streams were created to identify best practices relating to urban policy and planning, project development, implementation and financing.

The Australian APEC Study Centre (AASC) at RMIT University in Melbourne is leading the work program of the UIN with funding from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). AASC Director, Ken Waller, sees this focus on urbanisation as critical:

“Urbanisation, the growth of cities and of corridors linking cities, creates massive challenges for economies of the region and globally at all levels of governments and administrations; state, regional and cities themselves”.

“Population growth, the migration of people from rural areas to cities puts great pressure on governments at all levels to develop, plan and finance the infrastructure needed to meet even the basic needs of communities.”

Michael Young, in his role as Chief Advisor for Asia, UN Global Compact – Cities Programme contributed to the second biennial forum of the UIN which was held in Singapore from June 14-15. The Forum was convened to seek contributions and expert high level advice on the UIN’s final draft Framework and Action Plans. It was attended by high-ranking officials of the relevant government agencies of APEC member economies, scholars and experts, representatives from the UNESCAP and the World Bank as well as other relevant regional and international organizations. Michael presented on the City Scan diagnostic and shared his advice and knowledge on governance, transparency and development in the Asia Pacific region. It is anticipated the final Framework and Action Plans will be available on the AASC website in early September 2016.

We believe these developments mark a new era of collaboration and integrated thinking and approaches – where traditional economic dialogue is merging with the broader global sustainable development focus. The results of this type of approach could be far reaching. We look forward to continuing engagement with these important regional initiatives.

*Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Thailand, the United States