Asian cities vow to combat climate change

December 08, 2017 | 14:00
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Regional experts and policymakers gathered in Ho Chi Minh City on December 5-8, to discuss how cities in the Asia-Pacific can stay resilient in the face of climate change.
Pham Hoang Mai from the Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment speaking at the event

The most pressing issues in Asia’s urban resilience have been discussed at the Asia-Pacific Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation–Resilient Cities Asia Pacific Congress 2017 (RCAP), held in Ho Chi Minh City in conjunction with Asia LEDS Partnership Forum.

The Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) was the co-host of this event. In its third year, this time, RCAP attracted 150 participants from local governments in the region, major international organisations, and funding agencies.

Pham Hoang Mai, head of the Department of Science, Education, Resources and Environment at MPI, said that Vietnam wanted to collaborate with other countries in the region to fight climate change and reduce carbon emissions, following the Paris Agreement at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (also known as COP21).

“Local governments in the Asia-Pacific need to build smart cities that minimise carbon emissions, focus on sustainability, and improve energy efficiency,” said Mai. "Climate change solutions can only work if they are integrated into the cities’ development plan."

Current changes in climate, combined with rapid and often unplanned urbanisation, make Asia home to some of the most vulnerable regions of the world to the impacts of climate change. Increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, intensification of extreme weather events, and rising sea levels are already a reality in the region, as the participants pointed out at the event.

At the same time, the increasing population and the spread of human settlements in low-lying, flood-prone coastal areas magnify the risks, increasing the vulnerability of people, especially the poor urban population who live in hazardous areas. Improving the resilience of urban areas should thus be a major focus of Asia-Pacific governments.

Ron Benioff, director of LEDS Global Partnership, believes that Asia-Pacific cities would lead the fight against climate change, going towards sustainable energy, recycling, and carbon reduction. Both the public and private sector can provide these projects with the necessary funding.

Over the course of four days, participants at the event also discussed the impact of COP23, which took place in Germany last month, as well as the on-going dialogues on urban resilience. The outcomes of RCAP 2017 will be presented at World Urban Forum to be held in Kuala Lumpur, as well as ICLEI World Congress in Montreal next year.

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