The total population of ASEAN in 2016 has reached 634,485 million people and 48.2% of them reside in the urban area. This trend may be increasing following the growing rates of the development of new cities, rural-urban migration, rising affluence and expectations of the people. Against this backdrop and taking into account the changing environment, e.g climate change, pollution, etc, cities in ASEAN are facing numerous challenges to stay environmentally sustainable and liveable. Various programmes have been implemented by ASEAN cities to tackle those challenges and improve their environmental performance. However, simply ensuring and maintaining good environmental performance is inadequate. ASEAN cities have to strive to go beyond environmental performance and move towards achieving environmental sustainability. ASEAN commitments to ensure that cities/urban areas in ASEAN are environmentally sustainable while meeting the social and economic needs of the people are outlined in the ASCC Blueprint 2025.
- Enhance participatory and integrated approaches in urban planning and management for sustainable urbanisation towards a clean and green ASEAN;
- Strengthen the capacity of national and local institutions to implement strategies and programmes towards liveable cities;
- Promote coordination among relevant sectors to provide access to clean land, green public space, clean air, clean and safe water, and sanitation;
- Promote cities that are child-, youths-, the elderly/older persons-, and persons with disabilities-friendly through enhanced coordination with relevant sectors to provide sustainable and accessible infrastructure systems;
- Strengthen positive economic, social and environmental linkages among urban, peri-urban and rural areas; and
- Strengthen policies and strategies for the effective impact management of population growth and migration on cities.
The ASEAN Leaders acknowledged the abovesaid effort and agreed to intensify cooperation in addressing problems associated with urban environmental management and governance to achieve sustainable development.
The AWGESC aims to ensure that cities/urban areas in ASEAN are environmentally sustainable, while meeting the social and economic needs of the people. AWGESC will also function as a consultative forum to enhance coordination and collaboration among various ASEAN sectoral bodies and dialogue partners in addressing environmental sustainability challenges in the areas of clean air, clean water, and clean land as well as the green and blue issues, towards achieving liveable cities/ urban areas.
The ASEAN Initiative on Environmentally Sustainable Cities (AIESC) which was endorsed by the ASEAN Environment Ministers in 2005 serves to assist ASEAN cities, especially the smaller and rapidly-growing, to pursue environmental sustainability. The programme covers 25 participating ASEAN cities. As participating cities of AIESC, regional activities are focused on these cities, such as to pilot test the revised ESC Key Indicators for Clean Air, Clean Land, and Clean Water.
Network of Participating Cities of AIESC
To stimulate, benchmark, and recognize exemplary efforts on environmental sustainability, ASEAN has initiated the ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable City (ESC) Award programme. The inaugural ASEAN ESC Award Presentation Ceremony was held in Ha Noi, Viet Nam on 8 October 2008, on the occasion of the 11th The ASEAN Environment Ministers presented the awards to ten cities/townships/districts in ASEAN that had made exemplary efforts towards environmental sustainability. The ESC Award aims to make ASEAN cities environmentally sustainable by recognising exemplary efforts and sharing best indigenous practices to keep cities clean, green, and liveable.
Recipients of the 4th ASEAN ESC Awards (2017)
Recipients of 3rd ASEAN Certificates of Recognition (2017)
The 4th ASEAN ESC Awards and Certificate of Recognition were conferred to the nominated cities at 14th AMME and related meetings on 12 September 2017, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam.
The promotion of Environmentally Sustainable Cities (ESC) was identified as the immediate priority area for regional collaboration among EAS countries at the Inaugural East Asia Summit Environment Ministers Meeting (EAS EMM) in 2008. Subsequently, the Governments of Japan, Indonesia, Australia and Singapore organised the 1st HLS-ESC on 2-4 March 2010 in Jakarta, Indonesia to promote information exchange and foster concrete collaborative actions on ESC among EAS countries. This was followed up with the 2nd HLS-ESC on 15-16 March 2011 in Kitakyushu, Japan, 3rd HLS-ESC on 6-8 March 2012 in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and 4th HLS-ESC on 21-22 March 2013, in Ha Noi, Viet Nam.
The 7th High-Level Seminar on Environmentally Sustainable Cities with the theme Redesigning toward the 2030 Agenda was held on 3-4 March 2016 in Ha Noi, Viet Nam recommended among others: to rename the event as EAS High-Level Seminar on Sustainable Cities starting in 2018, and each seminar will have a theme to reflect particular focuses or trends. The outcome documents of the High-Level Seminar can be retrieved here.
ASEAN ESC Model Cities Programme
The ASEAN ESC Model Cities Programme is a regional initiative aimed at promoting the development of Environmentally Sustainable Cities (ESC) across ASEAN countries. It provides seed funding, technical assistance and other forms of support to raise local capacity for implementing innovative and voluntary bottom-up initiatives, as well as to strengthen national ESC frameworks and actions that facilitate the replication and scaling up of good practices and policies within and across countries. It also promotes city-to-city collaboration and provides a broad and inclusive platform matching ASEAN cities with interested resource partners. This programme has been realised with the generous support of the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF). Further information on the programme is here.
Clean Air for Smaller Cities Project
The Clean Air for Smaller Cities Project with funding from the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany was first implemented from January 2009 to December 2012. The Project is now in its second phase and will complete in December 2015. The project has been implemented in 12 cities in eight ASEAN Member States: namely Chiang Mai and Nakon Ratchasima (Thailand), Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro (Philippines), Palembang and Surakarta (Indonesia), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Melaka (Malaysia), Bac Ninh and Can Tho (Vietnam), Yangon (Myanmar) and Vientiane (Lao PDR) with a budget support of EUR 5 million.
The Project aims to support smaller and medium-sized cities in the ASEAN Region to develop and implement Clean Air Plans (CAPs). The project focuses on medium-sized cities which have a vital role to play in national development.
The Project has been able to deliver: ten emission inventories implemented, six clean air plans developed and five training courses rolled out through 35 sets of training delivered. The Projects sustainability goal is to institutionalize Train for Clean Air or T4CA beyond the project duration and establish regional and national training hubs.
CityLinks Pilot Partnership between U.S. and ASEAN Member States
The CityLinks Pilot Partnership between the U.S. and ASEAN Member States is an 18-month technical exchange program focusing on strengthening urban climate resilience and adaptation in selected cities in the ASEAN Member States. The activity is funded by USAID, and implemented by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC). The CityLinks Pilot Partnership aims to define a structured and strategic approach to city-to-city learning on environmental sustainability in line with ASEAN goals and builds on the initial success of the ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable Cities Model Cities Programme (MCP). ASEAN cities will be paired with U.S. cities to share best practices and provide practitioner-to-practitioner assistance on innovative approaches, technologies and good governance tools to support planning and implementation to prepare for adverse climate change impacts. ASEAN cities will become part of an existing online knowledge network to connect practitioners and promote sustained technical exchanges.
Climate Leadership Academy (CLA) on Urban Climate Adaptation for Cities in Southeast Asia: From Risk Barriers to Results: Managing the Social, Political, Environmental, and Financial Risk of Urban Infrastructure was held on 13-15 August 2013 in Jakarta as the first activity of the CityLinks Pilot Partnership project between the United States and AMS. Eight city teams from seven AMS took part in the CLA, namely: Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Palembang and Jakarta (Indonesia), Paksane (Lao PDR), Kuantan (Malaysia), Legazpi (Philippines), Chiang Rai (Thailand), and Ho Chi Minh (Viet Nam).
A survey was conducted following-up to the CLA as a means of ascertaining cities desire and a preliminary screening tool to gauge cities eligibility to participate in the city-to-city technical exchange through CityLinks. Based on the survey responses and selection criteria, Legazpi City, Philippines and Chiang Rai, Thailand were chosen to participate in the city-to-city technical exchanges with Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, respectively.