ASEAN eyes urbanization sustainability

URBANIZATION is among the most significant global trends of the 21st century. 

Half of the world’s population is living in the megacities while people from rural areas tend to depend on cities for economic, social, and political progress. 

Urbanization and development of cities are signs of a progressive country, however, these pose a huge challenge on how to sustain these cities and the ever growing need for energy.

 

Policies and Science Based Ideas

That is why parallel to the 50th founding anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Philippines as chair for the ASEAN50 2017, thru the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) with their research arm the Ecosystem Research and Development Bureau (ERDB), held the “R&D Congress on Sustainable Urbanization in the Course of ASEAN Economic Integration” a three-day forum at Sofitel Manila recently. 

As urged by policy experts of ASEAN, the forum aimed to discuss policies and science-based ideas to achieve an economic integration with the protection of ecosystem and biodiversity. 

The summit focused on the urbanization sustainability; successful urban planning agenda assured of sustainability and inclusivity which ASEAN is trying to achieve being a high-growth area with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growing at 4.8 percent annually. 

 

Environmental Threats

Megacities in the Asian countries such as Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bandar Seri Begawan and Manila and other highly urbanized cities in Vietnam, Lao P.D.R., Myanmar and Cambodia, as shown from Mckinley Report 2015, have an urban “consuming class” or approximately 81 million households that are likely to double by 2030. 

These cities’ huge infrastructures, high volume of vehicles traversing the roads and population congestion, require high energy consumption, increased demands for consumable goods, and more developed lands. 

These demands, unfortunately, pose threats to the environment such as irreversible land degradation, greenhouse gases (GHG) emission, and biodiversity loss. 

 

Climate Change Driver

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, in his opening remarks, called for a joint effort among members of the ASEAN to achieve economic and socially equitable growth without further compromising the environment; so as to preserve it for the generations to come.

Cimatu said that Asian megacities must “collectively and proactively work together to make urbanization as environmentally sustainable as possible.” 

Citing further a research that shows that urbanization is the major driver of the world’s climate change brought by global warming. 

He encouraged everyone in the ASEAN to become stewards of their respective nation’s natural resources and work on urbanization sustainability. 

He stressed that the Philippines – thru DENR – continues to push for urban biodiversity and green technology in building resilient cities. He also encouraged city dwellers, industrialists, and commercial establishments to strive for carbon-neutral economy.

Dr. Simplicia A. Pasicolan, overall coordinator, for her part emphasized in her presentation that in pursuit of urbanization sustainability, everyone must contribute in unity to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, SDG no. 11 which is the Sustainable Cities and Communities. 

Other significant sustainable urbanization-related topics that were discussed in the symposium were on the ASEAN Economic Community and Urban Metabolism   for   Inclusive   Growth   and   also   on   Environment   Protection amidst Industrialization for Sustainable Cities. (Ehlorra Mangahas, Trainee)

 

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