From 1-3 July 2019, Pacific Island states came together for the fifth Pacific Urban Forum (PUF5) in Nadi, Fiji. Cities Programme Global Advisors Dr. Jane Stanley (EAROPH Australia) and Ms Mia Davison (EAROPH International) presented the side event, “Pacific Partnerships” which focused on opportunities for cities to get involved with the work of the Cities Programme.

The Eastern Regional Organisation for Planning and Human Settlements (EAROPH) in Australia has been working with the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) Pacific Office over the last year in developing a Pacific Partnerships program that fits with the City Partnerships Challenge of the Cities Programme. The side event was well attended and confirmed the support of local governments across the Pacific in wanting to collaborate and gain access to knowledge and innovative ideas.

The focus of the Pacific Partnerships program is on local economic development, with capacity building support as well as mentoring for project implementation. The city representatives that attended were interested in strengthening the productivity of their informal economies, building on the economic strength of their urban markets, while others had a particular interest in new waste and energy technologies as possible economic drivers. Many local governments raised concerns about the lack of human and technical resources to rise to the challenges they face, and particularly the rising population of young people and how they fit into urbanisation of the Pacific.

Some of the areas of focus put forward throughout the event were:

  • assisting local governments to build the wellbeing and productivity of workers, including women, in the informal economy, that builds on the work of the PNG Government in needs assessment and policy development, and progresses this to localised implementation;
  • developing and implementing new small-scale technologies for waste management and energy production (including W2E) as a foundation for building local economies that address climate change and the emerging New Local Blue Agenda;
  • supporting “one village, one product” models for maximising value from village enterprises and developing marketing opportunities, as well as other development initiatives that assist rural/remote communities including those on small outlying islands;
  • assisting planning and related professionals with risk hazard mapping and the developing innovative approaches to building resilient communities through proactively involving youth and other hard to reach groups.

EAROPH Australia also presented three presentations while at the Pacific Urban Forum demonstrating new waste and energy technologies applied specifically for cities within a Pacific context.

The first was a case study of how small scale mobile pyrolysis technology could be applied to revitalise the copra industry, also encouraging milling of usable coconut timber. EAROPH Australia outlined an attractive business case for this, as reports suggest that around 60% of coconut palms in Fiji are dead or dying, no longer productive and harbouring disease and vermin that lower the productivity of younger palms. Processing the waste timber can provide energy for timber milling as well as copra processing, and there are valuable byproducts that have agricultural application (biochar and wood vinegar).

The second presentation introduced an integration of technologies that have the potential to eliminate landfill disposal of wastes. These technologies include accelerated composting to remove the green waste stream and produce consistent high-value product, mobile pyrolysis to process woody wastes where they are located, and depolymerisation to process municipal mixed wastes into high-quality biodiesel.

The third presentation was a case study of seven different ways that farming practices can reduce emissions without incurring additional farm costs, based on dairy farming as an example. There was some discussion of how carbon credits might be claimed by farmers (based on either the Australian Emissions Reduction Fund or the international Clean Energy Mechanism) to incentivise changes in farming practices.

The discussions held at the Pacific Urban Forum have resulted in requests for further studies of how technical innovation can be applied to different circumstances in the Pacific Region.

Participants at the event reaffirmed their desire to build greater capacity for bottom-up approaches for achieving resilient and sustainable communities, including providing mentoring support for project implementation. 

EAROPH and the Cities Programme will also be presenting on Pacific Partnerships at the Seventh Asia-Pacific Urban Forum (APUF7) being held 15-17 October 2019 in Penang, Malaysia that is co-organised with Urbanice Malaysia, the Government of Malaysia, UN-Habitat and UN-ESCAP.

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