The 4th Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific Congress, organised by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and hosted by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, opened today at the Hotel Eros, New Delhi. Gathering more than 200 participants from over 70 cities from over 25 countries across the globe. RCAP 2019 provides a platform for multi-stakeholder discussions and peer learning on the opportunities and mechanisms of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
Outcomes of the RCAP 2019 shall be reported to the NDC Conference which will take place in Berlin, Germany and the Resilient Cities Congress which will take place in Bonn, Germany in June 2019.
Mr. Emani Kumar, Deputy Secretary General of ICLEI and Executive Director of ICLEI South Asia officially welcomed the delegates to the three-day event. In his speech, Mr. Kumar shared that RCAP 2019 is the fourth event in the series of Resilient Cities Asia Pacific Congresses, with the first three held in Bangkok, Thailand in February 2015; Melaka, Malaysia in March 2016; and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam in December 2017. RCAP aims to surface practical, implementable solutions that will produce lasting impacts on resilience and urban development for the cities in Asia Pacific through dialogues and partnerships.
Towards multi-dimensional and innovative low emission development strategies
RCAP 2019 was also graced by the presence of the Honorable Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu. At the inaugural session, the Vice President urged cities represented in the Congress to strive towards adopting multi-dimensional and innovative approaches to promote low emission development. He also stressed that there is a need to push for green infrastructure and to promote resource efficiency and circular economy as means to achieve climate-resilient urban development.
“We need to change our development paradigm and aim for climate resilient development, moving away from traditional metrics of measuring development. The new urban infrastructure should be low-carbon, green and climate resilient,” Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu stated.
Also present during the inaugural session is Mr. Puneet Kumar Goel, Commissioner of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC). He shared that SDMC is striving to provide its citizens with a “Clean and Green Delhi” and to achieve this, the municipal corporation is working on strategies towards integrated waste management, renewable energy, and increasing green spaces within the city.
Stressing their firm support for the Congress, Mr. Goel shared, “I believe, environmental management and climate change requires collective action from all sectors of the society, common citizens, corporates, civil society organizations and government institutions… I hope that everyone would take advantage of the cross-learnings at this event and contribute to development of ‘Climate Resilient Societies’.”
Ms. Bedoshruti Sadhukhan, Senior Programme Coordinator of ICLEI South Asia, offered a word of thanks for the partners, organizations, participants, and the network for their support for the Congress.
Local governments for climate action
In the Special Plenary Session immediately following the Inaugural Ceremony, ICLEI General Secretary Gino Van Begin reiterated the significant role that local governments play in forwarding climate action at all levels.
“With the Paris agreement in place as well as through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs, local and regional governments have now a central role as partners to nations to achieve the targets set by the international community. They can and should help nations in the design and implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs). And they can set their own complementary commitments to make our cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable (SDG 11),” Mr Van Begin stated.
Ms. Tamara Mona, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Switzerland in India, echoed the need to support cities in resilient and low emission urban planning. “Cities of the future must be livable, sustainable and responsive to transforms and changes,” she noted.
Further, Mr. Raimund Magis, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to India and Bhutan, noted that strategies to promote resiliency and ensure low emission development are always encouraged and supported by the European Union (EU).
"The EU attaches high importance to the multilateral framework: Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework on disaster risk reduction. The EU is integrating these internationally agreed objectives in its own policies," Mr. Magis added.
Speaking from the perspective of a local government, Kinlay Dorjee, Mayor of Thimphu Thromde, Bhutan and member of ICLEI’s Global Executive Committee, reiterated that congresses such as the RCAP are meant to enable local governments to learn from each other and take strategies that they can apply into their own contexts, preferences, and needs. He also shared the priority sectors that his city is working on specifically their strategies to promote integrated waste management, disaster risk reduction and management, and sustainable transport.
Ending the session with a thoughtful note, Mr. Dorjee encouraged everyone to not only look at the technical aspect of addressing climate change but to consider cultural and social resilience as well. “In urban planning, we should not forget social and cultural resilience. We should strive to make our citizens happy. Happiness is an element of development,” he noted.
RCAP 2019 will take place from 15-17 April 2019. Live updates from the sessions are available via the Twitter handles of ICLEI Southeast Asia Secretariat, ICLEI East Asia Secretariat, ICLEI Oceania, and ICLEI South Asia.
(Written by Val Bugnot from ICLEI Southeast Asia Secretariat and Yuting Chang from ICLEI East Asia Secretariat)