Urban Nexus cities gear up for Habitat III, join German Habitat Forum
Opening Plenary of the German Habitat Forum in Berlin, Germany, on June 1, 2016.

Six participating cities in the ‘Integrated Urban Resource Management in Asian Cities: The Urban Nexus’ project joined the recently-concluded German Habitat Forum held in Berlin, Germany, on June 1-2. These cities were Pekanbaru and Tanjungpinang in Indonesia, Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, Naga and Santa Rosa in the Philippines, and Chiang Mai in Thailand.

Themed ‘Urban Solutions’, the German Habitat Forum was hosted by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the federal state of Berlin. The forum brought together policymakers, city officials, academicians, practitioners, and researchers in the field of urban development to discuss how to make cities sustainable and environment-friendly. Attended by about 1,000 participants from 74 countries, the event was organized by Germany as a build-up to the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) which will take place in Quito, Ecuador, in October this year.

Integration was a recurring theme highlighted by panelists and speakers during the forum. Dr. William Cobbett of Cities Alliance said in the opening plenary that “national governments should not see sub-national governments as inferior forms of government.” On the other hand, Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, emphasized that “the New Urban Agenda (NUA) should be action-oriented and determine who does what.”

This echoes the sentiments of Dr. Christoph Beier, Vice-Chair of the GIZ Management Board, when he called for a stronger review process and accountability for the NUA at the international level. With regard to the cities’ role in the NUA, he explained: “Voices of cities at the international level should be strengthened… Yes, there is danger in decentralization but consider the danger of not empowering local governments.”

The German Habitat Forum ended with the ‘Berlin Recommendations for the Cities of Tomorrow’ which outlined six priority areas for action, namely:

  1. Empower cities as actors to achieve the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement
  2. Initiate transformative approaches for sustainable urban development
  3. Strengthen the enabling institutional, legal and financial frameworks for cities
  4. Create opportunities for engagement and initiate partnerships for implementation
  5. Focus the follow-up of the New Urban Agenda on policy dialogue and learning
  6. Give more voice to cities in global urban governance

The Urban Nexus project, funded by BMZ and implemented by GIZ, is currently being implemented in 12 cities across seven Asian countries. The project works on the topics of secure water supply and sanitation systems, energy security and efficiency, land use, physical planning, and food security. Strategically, the project focuses on two core elements, namely, 1) integration of nexus approaches into urban planning and development processes, and 2) regional exchange and dissemination of successful practical approaches to integrated resource management. At the international level, the project looks into how nexus approaches can be linked into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as Habitat III.

ICLEI Southeast Asia Secretariat serves as the Urban Nexus implementation partner in Indonesia and the Philippines.

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