Asia-Pacific Cities At Forefront Of Accelerating Sustainable Development Action, Building Back Better


As countries strive to build back better post COVID-19,
sustainable urbanization can make cities change agents on
solving the persistent problems of climate crisis,
unsustainable resource use, widespread inequality,
discrimination and injustice in the Asia-Pacific

The Asia-Pacific Regional Guidelines on
Voluntary Local Reviews
, launched today by the United
Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the
Pacific (ESCAP) and Penang Platform for Sustainable
Urbanisation (PPSU), highlights the critical role local
leaders and city governments play in action for the
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The COVID-19
pandemic has shown us that cities have a transformative
potential that can be harnessed and enhanced to forge
inclusive, prosperous, and resilient places. As home to most
of the world’s urban population, Asia-Pacific cities can
serve as the drivers of sustainable development for the
achievement of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement,” said
ESCAP’s Environment and Development Division Director Mr.
Stefanos Fotiou.

Cities are at ground zero of the
COVID-19 pandemic with 90 per cent of cases reported
globally. This has made many local leaders and Governments
realize that the social, economic and environmental
challenges it poses are not just abstract issues of national
concern; they are very real and often played out locally in
urban areas.

“The challenges faced calls
for a revisit of city’s priorities as we adopt the
relevant global goals to review our planning, our policies
and strategies, with a stronger focus on resilience,”
shared PPSU Chair and Chief Executive of Urbanice Malaysia,
Ms. Norliza Hashim. She added, “building upon the call for
a decade of action, Voluntary Local Reviews can build on
local action and people action to accelerate the
transformation of cities by creating better city and better
life for communities.”

The formulation
of VLRs can be a game changer not just in assessing progress
but also in encouraging SDG localization. They provide the
opportunity for cities to rethink their planning process as
well as better engage local communities in understanding
their needs and getting them involved meaningfully in
recovery strategies and long-term development

The Guidelines aim to support Asia-Pacific
cities willing to undertake a Voluntary Local Review (VLR)
and produce an initial holistic report to stakeholders that
connects local strategies with global agendas. Although
gaining in momentum, the VLR process does not yet have any
official status as part of the formal follow-up and review
processes hosted by the United Nations. The Guidelines are
the first of its kind to provide cities with guidance
specific to the region to help them decide where to start,
how to start and what to keep in mind when conducting a

This is the first regional knowledge product of
the Penang Platform for Sustainable Urbanization, which was
formally established last year at the Asia-Pacific Urban
Forum. City partners involved in the development of the
Guidelines include Surabaya, Indonesia; Subang Jaya and Shah
Alam, Malaysia; Naga, Philippines; Nakhon Si Thammarat,
Thailand; Singra, Bangladesh; Dhulikhel, Nepal; and Betio,

Access the Asia-Pacific Regional
Guidelines on Voluntary Local Reviews at:

© Scoop Media

Leave a Reply