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23 to 25 October 2023 | Open meeting

Parallel Sessions provide an opportunity to discuss the overall theme of APUF-8, deepen practical knowledge on sustainable urban development solutions, identify new and emerging issues. Sessions occur in parallel across all three days of the Forum and are for showcasing joint initiatives and projects and helping spread greater awareness of the New Urban Agenda and the urban dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Parallel Sessions can showcase innovations, new data, research and solutions towards their accelerated implementation, including on themes directly related to the four main thematic tracks of the Forum.

Parallel Sessions are from 60 to 90 minutes in length and are in person events (facilities are not available for videoconferencing) hosted in rooms which accommodate between 50 to 80 persons with audio/video equipment for presentations. Detailed specifications on the room layout and facilities will be communicated to successful applicants.

To attend the parallel session, all participants must register on Indico to attend APUF-8 by 1 October 2023 using the link: (no registration fee)

Additional details and concept notes can be found under the Programme tab. 

23 Oct 2023
The Role of People-led Narratives and Hyperlocal Approaches in Sustainable Urban Development: An Emerging Paradigm from the Climate and Housing Space in India
Room 202, 2nd Floor

Organiser: Purpose 

This session will be hosted by Purpose, a creative social impact agency working in an iterative and experimental model to accelerate sustainable, people-centered, and people-led urban development. We will deliberate how people-led narratives can shift public opinion, build action and influence urban policy. Simultaneously, as cities rapidly develop and their complexity increases substantially, the needs of local communities become varied even within regions. Unlike the “one-size-fits-all” approach, hyperlocal approaches are needed to bring impacted and vulnerable communities on board with the need for urgent action which reflects their specific needs and values. On-ground practitioners will bring their insights and experiences from select hyperlocal interventions which have elevated community needs and co-created solutions with the potential to scale to other geographies and regions.

The session will also highlight the role of communities and influential stakeholders like informal communities, indigenous communities, and young people who have been under-engaged or not engaged meaningfully in building urban development plans. Furthermore, this session will help guide local decision-makers and key stakeholders with best practices in developing participatory or co-created sustainable urban solutions that have the potential to be scaled.

Concept Note 

Creative Economy and Urban Transformation: Reimagining the Power of Culture for Inclusive Cities
Room 203, 2nd Floor

Organiser: District Administration, Jajpur, Government of Odisha, India


The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted cities, disrupting economies, exacerbating inequality, and highlighting challenges like climate change. Historically, pandemics have shaped urban planning norms and led to lasting changes in building codes. To create more inclusive and resilient cities, robust spatial planning, urban-rural connections, and community asset utilization are essential.

Amidst these challenges lie opportunities for sustainable urban development. Context specific tailored solutions leveraging tangible and intangible assets, can drive economic growth. Culture, often overlooked, can drive development as it can promote inclusion, engagement, economy, resilience, and stewardship. By harnessing the transformative power of culture and making it a catalyst for sustainable urban development and rural-urban integration, significant progress can be achieved.

Showcasing a city's culture through its built environment contributes to a sense of belonging and an improved quality of life for residents. These strategies also bolster cultural and creative economic activities, stimulating local economies. By rejuvenating neglected areas, fostering cultural exchange and enhanced job opportunities. They empower marginalized populations, enhancing social and economic mobility.


The proposed event seeks collaborative efforts across institutions to drive urban transformation via culture and the creative economy. Best practices from cities like Jajpur, Hanoi, Chiang Mai, and Ballarat will be showcased to generate a dialogue and share innovative tools and practices in the sector. The session’s focus aligns with all core dimensions of the New Urban Agenda – social, economic, environmental, and spatial sustainability, and demonstrates the strategies for promoting economic linkages between urban, peri-urban, and rural pockets of planning areas.

Concept Note 

Unlocking the Potential of VLRs: Building Sustainable Cities through Local Action and Follow-up and Review Processes
Room 204, 2nd Floor

Organisers:  Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), co-organised with UCLG-ASPAC, Urbanice Malaysia, and UNESCAP

Humanity is halfway to 2030, and unfortunately, the progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda has been inadequate. Recent assessments by the United Nations indicate that as little as 12% of the targets of the 2030 Agenda are on track to be met by the 2030 deadline, while a concerning 30% have either stagnated or regressed. This sobering reality highlights the urgent need to redouble efforts in the follow-up and review processes of the SDGs to discern the shortcomings and challenges that have hindered progress thus far, in order to identify effective ways of action and steer towards a path that aligns with the aspirations of the 2030 Agenda.

At the same time, it is crucial to remember that local and regional governments play a pivotal role in achieving the SDGs. As key actors in sustainable urban development, they are well-positioned to drive change and implement effective strategies. Therefore, strengthening the follow-up and review processes at the local level becomes crucial to identify challenges, learn from best practices, and foster collaborative action towards a sustainable future in line with the aspirations of the SDGs.

Recognizing the significance of localized action and the unique challenges faced by cities and local communities, Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) have emerged as a valuable tool to structure follow-up and review processes at the local level. VLRs offer an opportunity for local governments to assess their own progress, identify gaps, share best practices, and engage stakeholders in a participatory manner. By fostering transparency, accountability, and inclusive decision-making, VLRs promote the effective implementation of the SDGs within the specific context of each city or locality.

Concept Note

Building Inclusive Cities: Accelerating Progress for Sustainable Communities in Asia and the Pacific
Room 205, 2nd Floor

Organisers: UNOPS with support from UN Habitat

In today's rapidly urbanizing world, the need for inclusive urban design and accessibility is of paramount importance to ensure the well-being and equitable participation of all individuals. This parallel session aims to delve into the critical issues surrounding gender equality, social inclusion, and sustainable urban development within the Asia-Pacific region.

The session aligns closely with the overarching theme of the Asia-Pacific Urban Forum 8 (APUF8) by recognizing the significance of localizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within cities, while exploring innovative approaches to urban challenges in the region. By focusing on the intersection of gender equality, social inclusion, and urban design, this session aims to demonstrate how inclusive cities can contribute to progress in all these areas.

Concept Note

Roadmap to a Just & Regenerative Recovery from Covid Climate Change & Conflict
Room 207, 2nd Floor

Organisers:  EAROPH International and United Nations Habitat Professionals Forum

Concept Note

Urban Road Safety in Asia and the Pacific: providing access to safe transport systems for all
Room 303, 3rd Floor


  • UNESCAP Transport Division and Environment and Development Division
  • The Secretariat of the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Road Safety

Road safety is among the great development challenges globally as well as in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2019, some 1.28 million drivers, passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians were killed on the world’s roads. 58 per cent of the global road deaths occurred in the Asia-Pacific region. During the First Decade of Action for road safety, while we had both accomplishments and limitations, the reality is that the targeted reductions in global road deaths and injuries could not be achieved. Road crashes are a global health issue that incites loss of livelihoods and feeds cycles of poverty. The burden of road traffic injuries and deaths is disproportionately borne by vulnerable road users and those living in low- and middle-income countries. Estimates indicate that road crashes cost low- and middle-income countries 3-5% of their gross domestic product (GDP). However, analysis of the WHO published data indicated that the road traffic death figure in the ESCAP region in 2019 showed an 11 per cent decrease from 2016. This indicates that solutions do exist, and we are able to achieve the target of the Second Decade of Actions, provided we adopt a systemic and systematic approach.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) includes Goal 3 (Good Health and Well-Being) and the underlying Target 3.6 emphasizes the urgent need to improve road safety and halving the road traffic crashes globally. Moreover, under Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), the Target 11.2 emphasizes on providing access to safe, affordable, accessible, and sustainable transport systems for all, by improving road safety.

In September 2020, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/74/299 "Improving global road safety", proclaiming the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030, with the ambitious target of preventing at least 50% of road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030. WHO and the UN regional commissions including ESCAP, in cooperation with other partners in the UN Road Safety Collaboration, developed a Global Plan for the Decade of Action, which was launched globally in October 2021. Global Plan describes what is needed to achieve that target and calls on governments & partners to implement an integrated safe system approach. Strengthening partnerships between the Member States, civil societies, and the international community is key to better engaging on global road safety. It also reflects the need for domestic and international financing for road safety and an interactive multi-stakeholder hearing. The Global Plan calls for a fundamental shift in how we approach mobility, and how we make the best use of our investments in safe transport systems. 

The Transport Ministers of the Asia-Pacific region in December 2021 adopted the five-year high-level strategic direction of the region through the Regional Action Programme for Sustainable Transport Development for Asia and the Pacific (2022-2026) in which road safety has been identified and highlighted as one of the key thematic areas. This portrays the region’s commitment and readiness to advance toward sustainable transport development including improving road safety. 

In addition to the global initiatives, under the auspices of ESCAP, the 7th Session of the Committee on Transport in November 2022, welcomed the Regional Plan of Action for Asia and the Pacific for the Second Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021–2030 which addresses the regional road safety challenges and issues in Asia and the Pacific.

Concept Note 

A planetary approach to resilience, social and natural inclusion in urban revitalization of post-pandemic Southeast Asian cities
Room 404, 4th Floor

Organisers: RMIT University Vietnam (RMIT), Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) and PolyurbanWaters project by Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association (BORDA)

Urban areas in the Asia and Pacific with its rapid growth are facing many challenges from social economic pressure, disaster vulnerability, environmental degradation, and infrastructure   insufficiency.  Achieving sustainable urban development requires multidisciplinary methods and approaches to address the current challenges. Discussions of sustainable urban development have been shaped throughout different disciplines such as urban planning, water and natural management, governance, economic and society, and infrastructure development. At the specific project level, different methodologies and approaches also adapted from disciplines led objectives. This session will present experiences and evidence-based examples from “living labs” in large and small cities are needed to inform the sustainable urban development discussion regarding the topic of urban resilience, ecosystem services integration for flood vulnerability and social inequality reduction.

Concept Note

Learning from Chiang Mai under the topic: Civil Society, the main force to sustain Chiang Mai City
Room 405, 4th Floor

Organisers: Chiang Mai Creative City, Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organization, Department of Architecture, Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna, Chiang Mai and Science and Technology Park, Chiang Mai University

The panel will focus on studying the structure of civil society and impact of their movement via case study of Chiang Mai’s urban area, exploring how these civil society groups have sustained both tangible and intangible heritage of Chiang Mai. The case study of Chiang Mai will also show how their movement has affected both culture and land use regulation changes - so called, land use innovation. Chiang Mai also holds many significant statuses at both national and international levels, including membership of the UNESCO Creative City Network: Crafts and Folk Art since 2017, one of the five “World Festival And Event Cities” announced in 2022, and tentative list status for UNESCO World Heritage since 2015. 

This multiple-status is undeniably the result of a long period of local-level movements for almost 30 years. Based on our research in 2022 with Chiang Mai University, dating back to the early 2000s, many aspects of local culture have been negatively impacted by the rapid growth of tourism in Chiang Mai, following the launch of the Amazing Thailand national policy in the late 1990s. The growth of tourism also led to the emergence of inappropriate night lives  such as late night pubs and crimes  within Chiang Mai Old Town, which at that time did not have any clear regulations. Another example happened in the early 2000s, local people in the historical area of Wat Ket, assisted by local academics, began a movement against unconsented planning regulations from the central government. Their long academic-based collaboration eventually caused the central government to reconsider their decision, and finally approved planning regulations for the Wat Ket area according to the needs of local people. This incident became a lesson which led to revision of the central government public participation process in urban planning. In 2010, local people began to mobilize affected communities to file complaints with the municipality office, asking the authorities to manage inappropriate behavior and to assess the impact caused by paper lanterns, which damaged and affected the safety of the community. One year later, local communities extended their civil society network to Muang Rak Chiang Mai Community, bringing together thirteen communities in the Old City. The network concluded that sustainable solutions could not be found by demanding local authorities to fix problems. Rather, the local network should lead by example - demonstrating Lanna identity and correct observance of traditional culture. After years of work, the city of Chiang Mai has announced the Royal Gazette of Chiang Mai Province 2020, regarding measures to prevent incidents, maintain security and public order with respect to the igniting and release of floating lanterns, smoke lanterns, or any similar objects into the air (No. 2), under the Thailand Air Navigation Act (No. 4) 2019. As for success stories, we have observed that most civil society groups in Chiang Mai are small organizations but which possess the ability to work with local people, thus giving them the potential for inclusion in urban development initiatives and policy-making.

Moreover, we will get to learn from our neighboring city called  Phrae, where there are movement of civil society and urban network whose contributions are focusing on enhancing economic value through creative activities under a research project called The tourism enhancement with a creative economy based on model of “Phrae Creative Cultural Heritage City” through the cooperation of local citizen networks.


Concept Note

Bridging the Gap: Strategic Urban Governance Approaches Towards Inclusive and Resilient Cities in South-East Asia
Room 202, 2nd floor

Organisers: Habitat Unit - TU Berlin (German) and Kota Kita Foundation (Indonesia)

Many secondary and tertiary cities and towns in Southeast Asia are experiencing rapid but quite often insufficiently planned and managed developments which result in major challenges: the sustainable protection of natural resources; the reduction of vulnerability to climate change and disaster risks; and the effective provision of public services for all citizens. In other words, they are struggling to establish more livable, climate change-resilient, and inclusive cities. Furthermore, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on urban residents has highlighted the need for an improved spatial and socio-economic development of cities.

Policymakers, planners, and citizens now share the struggle to find appropriate and effective ways of creating inclusive, resilient, and sustainable cities in the light of rapidly increasing impacts of climate change. There is growing agreement among urban development decision-makers, scholars, and practitioners that classical models of urban governance and urban planning alone cannot meet the development challenges of the cities. They no longer reflect the cities’ realities, needs, and capacities.

Concept Note

Towards health and wellbeing in cities for people and planet: engaging urban stakeholders
Room 203, 2nd Floor

Organizers: SEI Asia, Urban Futures & Policy at Thammasat University’s School of Architecture and Planning, and Udon Thani Municipality

At the core of delivering urban wellbeing is providing residents with clean, safe and healthy spaces. Beyond those basics, they should also have equal opportunities to live, work and move around in environments that promote healthy living. Research evidence increasingly points to the importance of natural environments in promoting mental health and wellbeing of urban residents. Additionally, green and blue spaces perform an important function in urban climate adaptation, providing nature-based solutions for the impacts of climate change. 

Through the case study of the city of Udon Thani in Thailand, we will explore how secondary cities in Asia and beyond can integrate health and wellbeing concerns in city development processes, for both people and planet. This has been shown to be important during the COVID-19 lockdowns which in many instances reshaped urban residents’ ties to their local environment, but also highlighted inequalities in access to outdoor space. This includes accessibility in terms of walkability and pedestrian safety, shading, distance to urban blue and green recreation spaces, and provision of services like waste management.

Concept Note

Inclusive and Climate Responsive Land Use Planning for Sustainable Urban Development in Nepal
Room 204, 2nd Floor

Lead Organiser: UN-Habitat Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP)

Co-organizers/partners: Department of Environment and Resources Research, Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI) and Korea Land and Geospatial InformatiX Corporation (LX)

Common to the global south, Nepal is a fast-urbanizing country, triggered by migration from the challenging rural regions to emerging towns and cities with relative concentration of services and livelihoods opportunities.  Also, climate change impact is becoming critical in urban settlements, where concentration of population is higher with larger stake on loss and damage due to economic agglomeration. 

The push - pull factors may vary, but there is commonality in the social, economic and environmental challenges faced by the developing countries, due to haphazard urbanization. In Nepal, 57.3% of the population are still dependent on agriculture, while unplanned urbanization and sprawl has resulted in rapid conversion and abandonment of agricultural land. Urban poor and slum-dwellers mostly under informal tenure are dwelling in at-risk areas. Hence, land management and land use are crucial to inform resilient, inclusive and sustainable urban development.

Efforts are in place with the endorsement of national land policy, the land use policy and the planning guidelines, and the government prioritizing sustainable land management. Lack of overall territorial planning, land use plans at the local levels and enforcement of planning by-laws are key issues, besides the technical capacities at the local levels. In the backdrop, UN-Habitat and the Korean partners are working on an innovative land tenure and land management solution focusing on environmentally fragile hills with prioritization on secured land tenure, land use planning and livelihood improvement. The Session will discuss the key issues and approaches and experiences from international experts on land governance tools and solutions replicable to developing countries like Nepal.

Concept Note

New Style of Long-Term Strategies for Local Governments - In-depth discussion with reference to the latest VLR of Tokyo
Room 207, 2nd Floor

Organizer: Tokyo Metropolitan Government

This session will focus in particular on "Urban and Territorial Planning and Policies", one of the main topics of APUF8. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) formulated a basic plan, "Future Tokyo: Tokyo's Long-Term Strategy", in 2021. This outlines a vision for the city in the 2040s and a variety of strategies for the year 2030.

In the same year, TMG unveiled its first Voluntary Local Review (VLR), "Tokyo Sustainability Action", which is fully aligned with "Future Tokyo: Tokyo’s Long-Term Strategy.

Since then, TMG has been continuously upgrading its policies and in July 2023 it announced a new VLR, "Tokyo Sustainability Action 2023". The TMG's VLR is structured in a "future initiatives" oriented manner and proposes a new form of VLR.

Concept note

Reforming Policies to Improve Informal Settlements in Post COVID-19 Asia Pacific
Room 303, 3rd Floor

Organizers: Habitat for Humanity International, UN ESCAP, and Asian Coalition for Housing Rights

Urbanization continues to be a defining trend in Asia and the Pacific. By 2050, 1.2 billion more people will live in urban centers for an estimate of 3.4 billion urban dwellers in the region. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for cities in the region. On the one hand, cities in Asia and the Pacific have the unprecedented opportunities to transform the well-being of their citizens and to catalyze economic development through increased urbanization.  On the other hand, rapid and often arbitrary urbanization has caused a growing housing deficit resulting in the proliferation of informal settlements across cities. It is estimated that 64% of the world’s urban slum dwellers are in Asia Pacific[1]. These settlements are characterized by overcrowded sub-standard housing conditions that are often incrementally self-built, lack of access to clean water, secured energy sources, safe sanitation facilities, and poor waste management systems. These conditions pose severe health risks, making inhabitants more susceptible to diseases and epidemics. As an example, families living in informal settlements were hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic – exacerbating existing vulnerabilities and creating new ones – impacting health and socio-economic wellbeing of its dwellers. Informal settlements are also disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change. People living in informal settlements often have scarce resources, insecure employment, limited digital connectivity, and include many of society’s most vulnerable residents, including women, girls, minorities, and people with disabilities. Women in informal settlements spend more time with household chores and accessing basic services thus limiting economic opportunities through livelihoods. The pandemic having hit women’s livelihoods greater than men’s, exacerbated the divide for women’s already limited housing options.  With poor housing and settlements conditions, residents of informal are highly susceptible to flooding and heatwaves. Informal settlers also have limited adaptive capacity due to inadequate access to resources including lack of tenure security which limits their ability to build resilience to the changing environment conditions.

Despite the massive number of people living in informal settlements, the housing needs of informal settlers remain largely ignored and invisible in most urban policies and interventions discourses. As cities commit to deliver the promises of the New Urban Agenda and leaving no one behind, it is critical that policies related to urban planning and governance consider the lived realities of people living in informal settlements. Integrating the needs of informal settlements into the urban fabric through spatial design, well-designed infrastructure, public spaces, and services promotes social integration, reduces spatial segregation, and fosters sustainable urban development. Urban territorial planning can improve the physical and social infrastructure of informal settlements, such as providing access to clean water, sanitation, electricity, and paved roads. Formalization processes seek to provide secure land tenure, legal recognition, and basic services to residents, enhancing their rights and promoting sustainable urban development.

Concept note

Reimagining Mountain Cities: Towards Sustainable, Culturally Sensitive and Inclusive Cities of North-East India
Room 402, 4th Floor

Organizer: UNICITI, co-organised with Asian Confluence 

The region of Eastern South Asia comprises Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal as well as East and North-East parts of India. It forms a mountain-to-sea ecosystem, interlaced by rivers and water bodies, and prone to tectonic activity. The region constitutes a geographical, cultural, and land bridge connecting South Asia and South-East Asia. This recently accelerated the region’s economic growth, which majorly happens in its rapidly growing cities. 

These cities, marked by a mountainous topography with delicate ecosystems, struggle with finding a balance between a fast economic growth, ecologically and climatically sensitive changes, and aspirations of its diverse communities. This highlights the need for a deep dive into guiding urbanisation principles of the region, which need to strike the balance between supporting the region’s economic growth opportunities and preserving, enhancing and building upon its unique cultural and natural identities. The region wants to pave the way to its own unique path to urbanization, which enhances its unique assets, unlocks new socio-economic opportunities, and develops its own path of localising the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda. 


The session will delve into challenges specific to cities of the region, examine local context responsive solutions these cities are testing out, and discuss a scalable bottom-up urban development model most suitable to mountain cities to foster a local context anchored, sustainable and liveable urban development. 

The session will give special attention to the empowerment of local communities, which are key urban stakeholders in the region, engage the participants into sharing their experience and ideas, and discussing how we can collectively support mountain cities of the region going forward.

Concept note 

Addressing Data Gaps for Urban Air Pollution Action and Regional Cooperation
Room 404, 4th Floor

Organiser: Environment and Development Division, United Nations ESCAP 

23 October 2023, 15:30-17:00 hours and 

24 October 2023, 15:30-17:00 Hours

This session will focus on how cities can use science-based interventions to fill data gaps and create science-based air pollution action plans. Data gaps related to gender will receive specific focus, together with innovative techniques such as the use of machine learning to support action plans will be discussed. Additionally, city representatives will give real world examples of how challenges and opportunities they are facing in combatting this urgent issue. To support local action at the regional level, the application Regional Action Programme on Air Pollution will be a highlighted resource for cities to utilize for integration of their approaches.

Concept Note 

Strengthening G7 and G20 Urban Groups Partnership on Sustainable Urbanization and Multilevel Climate Action: Lessons and Experience from the Asia Pacific Region
Room 405, 4th Floor

Organizers: ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability, South Asia, ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability Japan, ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability Indonesia and the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA)

The Group of Seven (G7) and the Group of Twenty (G20) are two prominent international forums that bring together the world's major advanced economies and emerging market economies. While the G7 focuses on economic and financial issues, the G20 covers a broader range of topics, including economic growth, climate change, and sustainable development. Despite their distinct, mandates, there are significant scope and opportunities for collaboration between these two forums, particularly on sustainable urbanization and multilevel climate action.

 The G20's focus on sustainable development aligns with the G7's commitment to environmental protection and social progress. Collaboration between the G7 and G20 can drive concerted efforts towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including clean energy access, climate resilience, and sustainable urbanization. By combining financial capacities, knowledge-sharing platforms, and technical assistance, the forums can support developing countries' capacity-building efforts and promote sustainable development worldwide. The collaboration between the G7 and G20 political forums on urbanization and multilevel climate action can yield significant benefits to their member nations and the international community as a whole.

The G7 and G20 can foster international collaboration on innovation and technology transfer in the areas of urbanization and climate action. By facilitating the exchange of innovative solutions, technologies, and research findings, the forums can enhance policy coherence, mobilize financial resources, accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices and promote the development and deployment of clean technologies for urban development and climate resilience. The success and achievements of the Urban 20 engagement group under Indonesia’s Presidency in the 2022 cycle and India’s presidency in the 2023 cycle are widely recognized in engaging key stakeholders and identifying strong priorities and solutions to some of the common challenges around urbanization and climate change. It is important to share such a legacy and learning across the Asia-Pacific region to forge multi-country discussions, especially with cities and local governments, to adopt promising sustainable strategies and solutions.

Concept note

24 Oct 2023
Urban Climate Resilience through Rainwater Harvesting
Room 202, 2nd Floor

Organizer: Shehersaaz and UN-Habitat Pakistan

Explain how the parallel session is related to Asia-Pacific’s sustainable urban development.

Pakitan’s 36.4 percent population lives in urban areas. Rapid economic development in recent years has not consistently translated into improvements in the lives of the urban poor. The situation is worsened due to lack of access to basic needs such as education, health, clean drinking water, proper sanitation and energy. Pakistan is the seventh most vulnerable country to impacts of climate change. Given the projected economic growth trajectory, greenhouse gas emissions in Pakistan are expected to increase from 405 metric tons of carbon dioxide to more than 1,603 metric tons of CO2 in the next 15 years. The most serious and visible impact of climate change in Pakistan includes floods, droughts, cyclones and heat waves. In the past 40 years, nine of the ten most severe natural disasters in Pakistan were climate related which clearly points to the magnitude of the challenge. Considering the high vulnerability to climate change, the Government of Pakistan has made adapting to present and projected future climate change one of its top policy priorities. In practice, these adaptation priorities in Pakistan equate to reducing the impact of flooding and droughts. However, despite the severity of flood and drought impacts in urban areas, a national approach to address this situation does not yet exist in Pakistan. Recurring floods damage the lives of individuals, destroy infrastructure and render much drinking water infrastructure unusable in affected areas. In addition, unplanned urban sprawl has led to encroachment on riverbanks and other flood-prone areas. Further water contamination occurs because of improper solid waste disposal, which clogs drainage channels. The urban poor are then the most affected as they can’t afford deeper boreholes (which may not be effective anyway). This leads to serious outbreaks of disease during flood periods, which particularly affects women, children, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.

Rain water harvesting initiative have ability to reduce flood impacts or adapt to climate change. Therefore, the approach of this project is necessary as well as cost-effective in the urban context in Pakistan. Further, this initiative is producing co-benefits in terms of water-related-livelihood protection, improved quality of human life, community capacity-building and empowerment, and reduction of environmental degradation.

Concept note

Urban Cities Responses to Climate Challenges in Housing and Settlements
Room 203, 2nd Floor

Organizers: Habitat for Humanity International(HFHI) and Catholic Relief Services(CRS)

There is already an extensive amount of literature and documents that highlight the interlink between climate change and governance. Local government units, especially urban cities are always put at the center given the magnified effects of climate change to urban dwellers driven by rising population and poverty. On the other hand, it is also in urban cities where potential for meaningful action exist given their better capacities to implement climate policies, develop sustainable infrastructure, engage communities, and drive innovation to build resilience and mitigate the adverse effects of climate change such as the historic floods in Pakistan 2022 and ever increasing Typhoon occurrences in The Philippines.  

With this and in the face of the escalating climate crisis, strengthening local governance and enhancing cities' capacity to address the challenges of climate change have become imperative for sustainable development. As climate-related risks and vulnerabilities continue to intensify, local governments and urban centers are emerging as pivotal players in fostering resilience, implementing mitigation strategies, and driving transformative action. By empowering local authorities, enhancing citizen participation, and promoting collaboration between various stakeholders, the potential of cities can be unlocked to become dynamic hubs of sustainable innovation, where effective policies, housing recovery, urban settlement planning and infrastructure investments, where and community engagement converge to build a resilient future for both people and the planet.

Concept Note

Innovating Urban Resilience in the Era of Climate Change in Southeast Asia: Cases from Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam
Room 204, 2nd Floor


  • Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), Thailand 

  • Catholic Relief Sercices (CRS) 

  • ICLEI Southeast Asia

The impact of climate change has become increasingly apparent, posing significant challenges to cities and infrastructure across the Southeast Asia. This parallel session aims to deep-dive into the complex relationship between climate change, cities and resilience in Southeast Asia, sharing innovative approaches and climate actions to enhance the resilience in cities. The session will commence with an overview of the climate change in Southeast Asia, highlighting the key challenges faced by urban areas in the region. By examining real-life case studies, the session will shed light on the vulnerabilities and risks that urban communities face, emphasizing the urgency for proactive measures. Subject experts and practitioners from Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam will share their insights and experiences, providing valuable perspectives on sustainable urban planning, nature-based solutions, green infrastructure, disaster risk reduction, and community engagement. The session will have two presentations by key speakers followed by a panel discussion including experience sharing from experts. A session’s moderator will facilitate the discussion and interactions with the audience and will conclude the session by summarizing the key takeaway messages. Participants will gain a comprehensive understanding of the environmental, social, and economic impacts of climate change on Southeast Asian cities, including typhoons, floods, rising sea levels, saltwater intrusion, heatwaves. 

Concept note

Shaking Things Up with a Regional Climate Justice Charter
Room 205, 2nd Floor

Organizers: EAROPH with support from the Climate Action Network

This session proposes a set of principles and actions that will help achieve a just response to the adverse impacts of climate change being felt by vulnerable communities throughout the Asia Pacific region. The foundation for a Climate Justice Charter was developed in a workshop involving Australian First Nations people working with Pacific Islanders. It has been supported as the foundation for a broader regional Charter at the recent Pacific Urban Forum in Fiji. In presenting this work to the APUF it is hoped that regional communities can join in advocating for climate justice with an amplified voice, requiring an effective response from the global community and its institutions.

Concept note

Strategies for Enhancing Climate Resilience in Malaysia Cities: A Focus on City Climate Action Plan
Room 207, 2nd Floor

Organizer: Urbanice Malaysia, Mercy Malaysia, C40 , UN-Habitat Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific ROAP (Fukuoaka), Hang Tuah Jaya City Council


In light of the intensifying impacts of climate change, there is an urgent need to boost climate resilience in our cities. With urban areas expanding and populations growing, cities are increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather events, soaring temperatures, and rising sea levels. These climate challenges put critical infrastructure, delicate ecosystems, and community well-being at risk. Therefore, it is imperative to prioritize and invest in strategies that enhance climate resilience to ensure the long-term sustainability, livability, and economic stability of our cities.

The upcoming session, "Strategies for Enhancing Climate Resilience: A Focus on City Climate Action Plans," is dedicated to sharing insights and best practices on climate resilience at the global, regional, and local levels. We will explore practical approaches that cities worldwide can adopt, recognizing the unique circumstances each urban environment presents. Our discussions will encompass a wide range of tools for building climate resilience, including community-based initiatives, innovative housing solutions, infrastructure design, nature-based solutions, green financing, and the transformative potential of green technologies.

Throughout our session, we will address key questions central to strengthening climate resilience in cities. We'll discuss how City Climate Action Plans can effectively implement proactive measures and strategic urban planning to prepare cities for climate challenges. We will examine the strategies and best practices that seamlessly integrate climate considerations into urban development and infrastructure design, creating resilient cities that thrive in the face of adversity. Our discussions will also explore the vital role of community engagement and participation in fortifying climate resilience within urban areas, emphasizing the collective power of action to protect our cities.

Furthermore, we will delve into the various stakeholders needed to create and implement a comprehensive City Climate Action Plan. We'll explore who should be involved, when their participation is most critical during planning and implementation, and how their engagement can be maximized to achieve urban resilience. Lastly, we will highlight the essential tools and ecosystem required to strengthen climate resilience in cities, bridging the gap between ambition and concrete action.

In this pivotal moment for climate action, this session is a call to all stakeholders, including policymakers, community leaders, architects, financiers, and citizens, to come together, share knowledge, and chart a path toward a future where our cities not only withstand the challenges of climate change but also thrive and prosper.

Concept note 

Enabling Frameworks to Support Asian Cities’ Ability to Access Climate Finance (Urban Act)
Room 301, 3rd Floor

Organizers: United Nations Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), GIZ, UCLG ASPAC, Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance (CCFLA) as well as other participating Urban-Act partners.

The ongoing urban transformation in the Asia Pacific will need cities to be affordable, livable, and climate-resilient. How can urban finance support this transformation? The urban infrastructure investment needs in Asia and the Pacific are large and cannot be met by any single source. It is necessary to maximize cities’ capacities and climate finance opportunities if these investments are to occur in time to meet SDG goals, especially since the post-pandemic world has seen a shrinking of both domestic and international funding for investment.

 The Urban-Act Project funded by the Government of Germany is aiming to strengthen Collaborative Climate Action (CCA) across 5 program countries: China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand.  CCA involves a vertically integrated, ‘whole-of-government’ approach for integrated climate action that is based on effective partnerships for aligning policies and practices between different levels of government and across sectors. Urban-Act is delivered through a broad consortium of partners including GIZ, UNESCAP, UCLG-ASPAC, CPI-UCFLA, IMT-GT, as well as the University of Stuttgart and TU Dortmund University. The role of UNESCAP is to support regional dialogue and the collaboration of national government agencies for vertical integration of climate action in cities, climate-sensitive urban planning best practices, capacity building and technical support for a transboundary pilot capacity building in climate finance, knowledge exchange, and regional advocacy. The Urban-Act will enhance an enabling environment for accelerating coherent evidence-based and inclusive urban climate action and access to climate finance in line with national climate policy frameworks and the SDGs.

 Under the objective of accelerating urban climate finance for improved low-carbon and resilient urban development ESCAP in collaboration with CCFLA has launched the preparation of country assessment report for India and Indonesia which is structured based on a specific regional framework methodology comprising evaluation of: (A) Climate Policy, (B) Public Finance and Budget, (C) Climate Data, and (D) Organizational Capacity and Structure. All of these four layers of assessment are applied at the national and subnational/urban levels.

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City-led climate innovations: Driving changes to safeguard our future
Room 303, 3rd Floor

Organizers: United Nations ESCAP, ICLEI East Asia, and the Institute for Global Decarbonization Progress

The Asia-Pacific region accounts for more than half of global greenhouse gas emissions. While thirty-nine out of 49 Asia-Pacific member States have made carbon neutrality and/or net-zero pledges, cities are at the front line of climate actions to realize global commitments. In Asia and the Pacific, there are already many local-level efforts to address climate change, applying innovative approaches to drive changes in our ways to produce and consume goods and services. To accelerate city-led climate actions in support of national commitments, these experiences should be shared with others, facilitating peer learning.

In this regard, ESCAP, ICLEI East Asia Secretariat and the Institute for Global Decarbonization Progress jointly organize a parallel session on city-led climate actions at the 8th Asia-Pacific Urban Forum (APUF-8). Building on the outcomes of the Third International Forum on Low-Carbon Cities (August 2023), the parallel session will introduce innovative approaches of the Asia-Pacific cities in promoting climate actions, aiming to accelerate innovations in city-led climate actions in support of the national, regional and global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Urban Climate Resilience: A key to sustainable urbanization
Room 402, 4th Floor

Organizers: MCR2030, UNDRR, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) and Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF) administered by the Asian Development Bank (ADB)

As climate change accelerates, an increasing number of cities across the globe are facing a multitude of threats. According to global literature, cities in Asia are witnessing a greater frequency of impacts and losses resulting from hydro-meteorological disasters. Hence, in order to achieve sustainable urban development in the Asian region, urban climate resilience is one of the key areas where urban resilience practitioners need to draw their focus on. Ensuring that COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts are aligned with countries’ climate change mitigation and adaptation ambitions should be a priority.

In this context, UNDRR, ADPC and UCCRTF are conducting this 90-minute session with the main aim of highlighting the importance of and approaches for building urban climate resilience. The session will have two presentations by key speakers followed by a panel discussion including experience sharing from city-level authorities. A session’s moderator will facilitate the discussion and interactions (Q&A) with the audience and will conclude the session by summarizing the key takeaway messages.

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PPP innovations on digital transformation for the vulnerable sectors
Room 202, 2nd Floor

Organizers: CityNet, The Regional Network of Local Authorities for the Management of Human Settlements and the United Nations Industrial Organization (UNIDO) Investment and Technology Promotion Office Korea. It will also be supported by different CityNet members in South Korea

Asia-Pacific is at the heart of urbanization and digital transformation is at a rapid pace. Since the pandemic, digital adoption has been at an unprecedented scale but has exposed and deepened the digital divide between and within countries. The UNESCAP Asia Pacific Digital Transformation Report 2022 stated government and business services are becoming ‘digital by default’. However this does not simply mean government and business services broadening digital access but also enabling a digital transformation process that will impact the society at large. This involves the whole-of-society approach in the co-creation of technologies and solutions that will improve services that matter most to residents. 

PPP as a process can pave the way for accelerating digital transformation. PPP is not a new idea however more than the dominant perspectives of PPP as a mechanism for using private capital for public good, the concept of PPP to expand to ICT to enable digital transformation is innovative and creative at the least. The concept of PPP to improve the quality of life of its citizens through collaboration with innovation from the private sector, regulatory policies from the public sector, and in partnership with civil society still rings true. PPP as an enabler to further  


  • PPP as enabler for the development of ICT-based programs for project services
  • PPP for start-up ecosystems to improve the govt services/ welfare - addressing urban challenges in particular for the vulnerable sector

The session highlights many innovations on digital transformation with public-private partnership as a key strategic process to improving conditions of different vulnerable urban sectors.

The session will demonstrate different program innovations and identify their key success factors while building consensus that digital technological change can only be meaningful when it must benefit the vulnerable sector in terms of increasing their capacities, leveraging opportunities, and broadening access to a sustainable economy.

The session will also highlight the role of the public sector as the key enabler in providing institutional mechanisms and policy environment to spur collaboration and enhancing private sector and society engagement in cities. Moreover, the role of the private sector will also be highlighted by considering their role as solutions co-providers to different urban challenges.

The session will focus on digital transformation on supporting supply chain and on supporting capacities of vulnerable sectors like women and elderly to maximize the benefits of digital economy.

The session is proposed to have a 60-minute panel discussion with short presentations, interactive polling, and open forum. Speakers will include UNIDO and its partners, CityNet and its member city governments in Asia Pacific and CityNet associate members.

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Disability Inclusion in Urban Infrastructure and Services - Lessons from South Asia
Room 205, 2nd floor

Organizers: UN-Habitat and UNESCAP

Persons with disabilities in cities have been disproportionately affected by the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic due to limited access to basic amenities and services, and experience higher neglect and discrimination. The lack of physical and digital accessibility in cities and communities often hinders persons with disabilities from living independently and with dignity. There is an urgent need to build accessible and inclusive cities and communities that support adequate and equitable opportunities for all and eliminate intersectional marginalization and discrimination experienced by persons with disabilities. 

 Aligning with the APUF-8 theme, the parallel session will reflect on the intersectional challenges and barriers faced by persons with disabilities in South Asian cities, and elaborate on innovative approaches, case studies, and actions taken to support disability-inclusive urban development. The session will also highlight the need for inclusive planning approaches and frameworks to address issues, such as access to housing, WASH, transportation, and digital infrastructure and services. It will bring in the perspectives of disability inclusion to enrich the discussion on attaining SDG 11 for sustainable cities and communities. 

 The Asia-Pacific region has made great strides in inclusive development  in recent decades and cities can build on this success to create more accessible communities. The deliberations at the session will align with the transformative principle of Leave No One Behind of the New Urban Agenda and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as commitments mentioned in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Jakarta Declaration on the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2023-2032, to build safe, accessible, and inclusive cities.

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Emerging technologies and transdisciplinary approach towards strengthening risk-informed urban resilience
Room 207, 2nd floor

OrganizersDisaster Preparedness and Prevention Center (DPPC), Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology (MJIIT), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Kuala Lumpur.

Today, some 56% of the world’s population live in cities. East Asia and the Pacific notably being the world’s most rapidly urbanizing region, with an average annual urbanization rate of 3 percent. As more people live in cities, more urban dwellers will be affected by natural hazards while the frequency and severity of natural disasters increases. On the other hand, high risk can also be accompanied by low vulnerability when paired with the right environment. Cities could be one of the safer places to live in when a disaster strikes with much higher levels of access to services, infrastructure, technology, and information than in rural areas. Being the forefront of the technology industry, the city infrastructures enable risk monitoring, sharing information with the public, gathering data contributions to DRR and resilience programs is increasingly valuable in response. This presents a huge opportunity to explore new and innovative technology platforms, apps and other innovations with urban dwellers.

This parallel session on “Emerging Technologies and Transdisciplinary Approach Towards Strengthening Risk-informed Urban Resilience” will provide a unique opportunity to better understand risk-informed urban development using Trans-Disciplinary Approaches (TDA) and the role of technology-based data-gathering required for resilience planning focusing on risk communication to promote All-of-Society towards effective Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). In this event, we will hear the importance of transdisciplinary approaches and how innovative technology is supporting cities and vice-versa to address urban challenges and systemic risk, with a specific focus on data gathering and its effective application to strengthen urban resilience, Build Resilience Community (BRC) and facilitate humanitarian nexus in disaster recovery. We will also explore ways to create synergies between technological innovation and approach in urban planning processes towards a risk-informed society by developing strategic foresight for transformational change. Case studies will be drawn from Asia Pacific countries with experience of using information and data gathered in innovative ways to foster DRR, including best practices from impact-based Multi-hazard Early Warning System, Living Labs, localizations, and advanced technology for digital platforms to support decision-making processes.

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Leveraging digital innovation for sustainable urban development
Room 301, 3rd Floor

Organizers: ESCAP, UN-Habitat, Seedstars & UCLG-ASPAC

Asia and the Pacific is home to some of the world’s most populous cities and diverse countries, creating a vast market for digital products and services. The region has experienced significant economic growth leading to the expansion of the middle class. Many countries in the region have invested heavily in building advanced technological infrastructure, including high-speed internet, mobile networks and data centers. Several governments in the region have implemented policies and initiatives to encourage digital innovation, including funding for start-ups and regulatory frameworks to support tech companies and incentives for research and development. The region has also seen rapid growth in e-commerce platforms and digital payment systems. These factors collectively contribute to the emergence of Asia-Pacific as a regional hub for digital innovation, with potential to contribute towards continued growth and sustainable development. There are opportunities to find smart solutions to address the urbanization and climate change challenges experienced in cities including congestion, pollution, waste management, and environmental degradation.

Smart cities can boost economic growth, promote sustainability, enhance the quality of life for residents, and improve the efficiency of public services, transport and infrastructure. With the region being home to more than half of the world's urban population, smart cities have the potential to transform the Asia-Pacific region by unlocking new opportunities for growth and development while making cities more livable and competitive in the global market. With these opportunities and challenges in mind, there is a time-bound window of opportunity for policymakers in Asia and the Pacific to leverage innovations that are driven by new digital technologies in the most productive and inclusive ways possible for accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Through the Smart Cities Innovation Lab (SCIL) project ESCAP has been collaborating with Seedstars, Syntao and United Cities and Local Governments of Asia Pacific (UCLG-ASPAC) and the three pilot cities  (Chiang Mai, Sihanoukville and Surabaya).  The overall objective of the SCIL is to contribute to enhancing the innovation ecosystem in Asia–Pacific by bringing together cities, start-ups, and large technology companies and development actors to work together to implement and scale up technology solutions for sustainable urban development. Through the SCIL project startups with innovative solutions  to support sustainable development have been selected to support the three city pilots. This parallel session contributes to the Community of Practice, under the SCIL with the objective of drawing in strategic stakeholders from public and private sectors, academic institutions, development and civil society organizations to get together to share best practices, emerging innovations, and lessons learned from across the region and globally. 

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Innovate4Cities Marketplace: Accelerating SDG progress through the City Research and Innovation Agenda
Room 403, 4th floor

Organizers: Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, ICLEI Korea, UN Habitat  and Melbourne Centre for Cities (University of Melbourne).

This Innovate4Cities (I4C) Marketplace is an interactive, participatory  workshop for any cities and local governments and supporters, from all sectors -  to stocktake, scale, develop, and look to implement city climate action and the SDGs  within the Asia Pacific contex. The results of our roundtable conversations will contribute to regional voluntary local reviews, local climate knowledge needs and  the research and innovation (R+I) roadmap for the Innovate4Cities Conference in 2024, an initiatives of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM) and UN Habitat. 

Using the city-focused R+I agendas developed at the I4C Conference 2021 (GCoM and UN Habitat), the I4C Marketplace at the Pacific Urban Forum in September 2023, and the  I4C Global Marketplace October 2023, and a scan of Voluntary Local Reviews from the region as the evidence base for interactive discussion, participants are invited to identify, explore and connect opportunities to scale and implement regionally relevant sustainable urban development and climate action ambitions. Outcomes will strengthen Asia Pacific perspectives on R+I knowledge gaps and opportunities for regional and local climate and SDG action plans. 

*The CRIA was synthesised at the 2021 Innovate4Cities conference, see

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Addressing Data Gaps for Urban Air Pollution Action and Regional Cooperation
Room 404, 4th floor


Organiser: Environment and Development Division, United Nations ESCAP 

23 October 2023, 15:30-17:00 hours and 

24 October 2023, 15:30-17:00 Hours

This session will focus on how cities can use science-based interventions to fill data gaps and create science-based air pollution action plans. Data gaps related to gender will receive specific focus, together with innovative techniques such as the use of machine learning to support action plans will be discussed. Additionally, city representatives will give real world examples of how challenges and opportunities they are facing in combating this urgent issue. To support local action at the regional level, the application Regional Action Programme on Air Pollution will be a highlighted resource for cities to utilize for integration of their approaches.

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25 Oct 2023
Building Inclusive Communities: Harnessing Housing Microfinance for Sustainable Urban Development
Room 202, 2nd floor

Organizer: Habitat for Humanity International

Access to affordable housing is key for sustainable urbanization (GGGI,2022). With the growing urbanization and population growth, an estimated 3 billion people will require adequate, affordable housing by 2030 (United Nations). However, millions of low-income households in the Asia-Pacific region face significant challenges in accessing traditional housing finance options (due to a lack of income or credit history, lack of assets to secure loans, and the largely unaffordable housing supply provided by the private sector), further exacerbating the housing crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the need for innovative approaches to address affordable housing and climate-resilient infrastructure challenges, especially for vulnerable communities (ADB,2022).

Housing microfinance (HMF) enables low-income households to access small, incremental loans that fit how they can afford to build incrementally. This allows them to have a better quality of life and create an asset that can be used as an investment. It promotes livelihood as they own a place to produce goods, store inventory, and conduct business and empowers individuals and communities, promoting social equality and inclusion.

Habitat for Humanity has been at the forefront of innovative solutions to address housing challenges worldwide. Habitat launched the MicroBuild in 2012, a social investment fund of $100 million and the first housing-focused microfinance investment vehicle dedicated to helping low-income families. Positioned as blended financing, combining technical assistance and investment capital, MicroBuild has helped local microfinance institutions to develop housing microfinance products and catalyze capital investment in the housing sector.

With a deep understanding of the importance of housing as a catalyst for sustainable urban development, the parallel session at APUF under the track “Urban Finance and Technical Assistance” aims to explore the transformative potential of housing microfinance in the context of sustainable urban development. Titled "Building Inclusive Communities: Harnessing Housing Microfinance for Sustainable Urban Development," the session will provide a platform to showcase innovative approaches, best practices, challenges, and lessons learned. 

As the world recovers from the impact of the pandemic, it is crucial to address the housing challenges exacerbated by the crisis. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic at the national, provincial and city levels have drained finances for many countries, resulting in an even greater deficit for funding, maintaining infrastructure, public services, and staff resources. Given this, housing microfinance can provide a significant fill-up to accelerate urban development by integrating with the design and implementation of urban policies and financing models. Based on Habitat for Humanity's experience of working in 58 countries and closely supporting investees of the MicroBuild Fund, microfinance institutions and housing finance companies could enable the right solutions for urban residents, particularly affordable mortgages to low-income and lower-middle-income households that draw their livelihood from the informal economy. Such solutions help the population expedite their incremental housing construction journey or purchase/build affordable units.

Shelter, housing, repair, reconstruction, and the replacement of household goods represent an average of 50% recovery costs in disasters over the last 30 years (UN-Habitat, 2019). Adequate housing is the ultimate protection for families against climate change and building resilience. Strategically designed HMF products can provide access to finance for low-income households and contribute to environmental sustainability by promoting energy-efficient and environmentally friendly housing solutions. It encourages green building practices, renewable energy technologies, and sustainable construction materials. 

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Investing in Locally-Led Adaptation (LLA) for bottom-up approach to urban resilience
Room 203, 2nd floor

Organizer: ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, South Asia and National Institute of Urban Affairs, India

The world is already in a state of climate emergency. Urban areas are especially prone to the climate related hazards such as heatwaves, floods, cyclones and water scarcity, and combined with the rapid urbanisation- it is expected that the potential for devastation will continue to grow. The impacts of climate change are already felt, especially by poor and marginalised local communities, who are the most vulnerable, often being the first and the hardest hit. The absence of resilient urban infrastructure compounds such impacts. With the existing systemic socio-economic, institutional and political barriers, we tend to forget and neglect the fact that people and communities on the frontlines of climate change are not only victims, but also powerful agents of change, who can develop innovative adaptation solutions. The critical role played by local communities towards Sustainable Development Goals (especially, SDG 5, 6 and 11) are well-recognised. However, despite the recognition of the value of local and traditional knowledge and expertise, local communities are mostly excluded from the decision-making process- across the planning, design, financing and implementation stage, thereby missing out on the synergies offered.

It is well-acknowledged that Locally-Led Adaptation (LLA) can unlock, support and leverage the enormous potential and creativity of communities to develop and implement climate solutions  that are inclusive, effective, equitable and transparent. However, often, such interventions face systemic political and institutional barriers, and lack access to regular financing mechanisms. Substantial investment and financing are needed to strengthen the bottom-up planning and on-ground implementation of the resilient infrastructural interventions. Local actors, with greater power and resources, can play an important role in identifying, contextualising and implementing innovative climate adaptation measures and building infrastructure resilience leading to more effective and equitable policies and outcomes, thereby paving the way for climate justice

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IMAGINE MAE KHA : City Transformation thru Housing Development
Room 204, 2nd Floor

Organizers: Multidisciplinary Research Institute Chiang Mai University , Program Management Unit on Area Based Development , Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organization , Chiang Mai Creative City , Chiang Mai Community Organization network , and Jai Baan Studio

We are going to discuss urban development strategies, looking at the urban physical structure and social structure as closely interconnected elements.

Many times, in the context of urban development in developing countries (especially in Asia), it results in a situation that cuts off opportunity for poor people and expands inequality.

Imagine Mae Kha's effort is to foster dialogue and engagement at the city level. This involves creating a shared vision that doesn't leave anyone behind. It presents mechanisms and techniques encompassing design, social aspects, and financial mechanisms, all working together continuously. It shifts the focus from merely addressing problems to recognizing shared opportunities and collaboration at the city level. Furthermore, it serves as the bedrock for the understanding of urban development for all relevant stakeholders moving forward.

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Unlocking Finance for Urban Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience: Bottlenecks and Opportunities
Room 205, 2nd floor

Organizers: Cities Development Initiative for Asia (CDIA), Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF),  Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) and Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Over the last 50 years, the number of people who call cities home has almost quadrupled at the same time that cities in the region have become more vulnerable to climate change. 

Despite increasing commitments to address climate change, financing has been beset with bottlenecks. Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance estimated that $5.4 trillion of climate finance is needed globally every year but only $384 billion is made available.  Also, only 9% of investments flow to adaptation,  undermining the cities’ capacity to respond to risks affecting them.

In this context, CDIA, UCCRTF, ADPC and ADB will lead a 90-minute session to present solutions toward effective adaptation and resilience. They will also share innovative financing mechanisms, good practices in project preparation, and other support for climate adaptation financing. Attendees will also get to know projects that have been linked to finance and the concrete pathways for preparing bankable climate-resilient projects.

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Gap Fund Trainings: Enabling Sustainable Urban Solutions
Room 301, 3rd floor

Organizer: Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM) -  The City Climate Finance Gap Fund

The Asia-Pacific Urban Forum (APUF) convened by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), serves as the ideal platform to empower cities in Asia Pacific by fostering knowledge and understanding of climate finance and to chart a path towards more resilient, inclusive and sustainable urban futures in Asia and the Pacific. As a significant milestone leading up to the Conference of the Parties (COP) each year, APUF plays a vital role in bringing together key stakeholders engaged in climate action.

For the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM), APUF serves as a platform to facilitate climate dialogue among local leaders. It enables them to exchange best practices and showcase their achievements in subnational climate action.  The Gap Fund workshop organized by the GCoM during APUF aims to equip cities with comprehensive knowledge about the City Climate Finance Gap Fund (Gap Fund) and its role in bridging the financing gap for sustainable urban projects in developing and emerging countries.

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Multi-Solving for Sustainability: Transforming Urban Planning and Finance
Room 402, 4th floor

Organizers: SWITCH-Asia Policy Support Component and Habitat for Humanity

This side event at the Asia Pacific Urban Forum (APUF8), organized by SWITCH-Asia in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, addresses the nexus of sustainable green housing, urban planning, and financial innovation. The session presents a unique opportunity to demonstrate how innovation and sustainability can be actualised through affordable green housing initiatives, thereby “multisolving” urgent environmental and social challenges. It will feature a representative of an impactful policy solution that improves housing conditions and create sustainable communities who is the finalist of one of the “Innovation Awards” by Habitat for Humanity in its subsequent flagship event, the biannual “Asia-Pacific Housing Forum” (APHF) – held right after the APUF. 

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Private Actors, Partnerships, and Corporate Accountability for Urban Development
Room 403, 4th Floor

Organisers: World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA), National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), Korean Land and Housing Corporation (KLH), and Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG)

The Asia-Pacific region is one of the most rapidly urbanizing regions in the world. In 2020, the UN-Habitat’s World Cities Report estimated that ninety-six percent of urban growth will occur in the less developed areas of three regions, namely: East Asia, South Asia, and Africa – two of which are located in the Asia-Pacific region.[1] This rapid urbanization will likely exert increasing pressures on Asia-Pacific cities local governments to provide much needed urban infrastructures and services, so that a sustainable urban environment can be achieved for Asia-Pacific’s rapidly growing cities. Private sector actors can play a key role to complement cities’ efforts to achieve a more sustainable urban environment. The importance or private sector actors has often been acknowledged in various global agreements. Various initiatives exists to measure country-level progress on the achievement of the SDGs, with considerable efforts being made to localize the SDGs for local governments. However, not much has been done to link their practices to help cities realizes SDG targets, particularly in the context of urban areas.[2]

Considering the potential contributions that private sector actors can make to the urban environment, public sector and international organizations alike have often tapped into private actors’ resources and expertise in their urban development programs. The emergence of the smart cities concept has further reinforced the role of private sector participation in urban development, leading to advancements in sustainability, growth, and optimization of urban services[3]. As such, organizations like the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) has recently launched the GUIDE initiative together with UNESCO, whose program component includes the involvement of private sector actors in promoting data driven decision and policy making to promote inclusion of all communities, especially those that are marginalised.[4] The Inclusive Cities Framework developed by NIUA also identifies the role of private sector in creating an inclusive city, especially in the context of urban service deliveries. On the other hand, State-owned Enterprises such as Korea Land and Housing Corporation (KLH), is planning a pilot project in Karachi, Pakistan, where it combined a slum settlement upgrading program with Emission Trading Schemes, to deliver sustainable, yet financially viable urban slum upgrading programs.[5]

The first part of the session will focus on good case studies of private sector contributions to achieve a sustainable urban environment. Yet, despite these good examples, the urban sector is inherently complex, with each sector being interlinked to another. The second part of the session will therefore focus on public-private sector collaborations, and the means to do a systematic assessment of companies’ efforts in achieving the SDG goals for urban areas. To do this, the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) is developing an urban benchmark, following its corporate accountability principles. Broadly defined, corporate accountability can be understood as a process by which society at large ensures that companies contribute to sustainable development. The initiative therefore complements existing efforts to measure SDG progresses at the national level, by localizing the SDGs to a level that private sector actors can implement at measurable and impactful manner, while also providing public sector actors, CSOs, and investors with a mechanism to monitor and evaluate how companies performs. WBA’s urban benchmark aims to assess the performances of up to 400 global companies with significant operations in the following urban sub-sectors: real estate, construction and engineering companies, utility companies (water, electricity, waste), as well as transport and logistics companies.

[1] See page xvi in UN-Habitat. 2020. World Cities Report 2020: the Value of Sustainable Urbanization, from:
[2] Satterwhaite, Dodman. 2018. The Urban Dimension of Six Global Agreements. Cities Alliance, from: page 5-7
[4] As sourced from:
[5] As sourced from:

Concept Note

for more information, please contact

Sustainable Urban Development Section [email protected]
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