Seoul, South Korea – Select Southeast Asian cities took center stage during the Seoul Mayors’ Forum on Climate Change (SMFCC). In a session titled “Translating ambitious visions into inclusive climate strategies: Experiences from Southeast Asia,” the Ambitious City Promises (ACP) project shared its key learnings from project implementation.
Launched during the SMFCC 2017, the ACP has been implemented by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability in Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam. From direct intervention in nine cities in these three countries, the project identifies three key ingredients in deploying bottom-up models of climate action planning: raising ambition, fostering inclusion, and facilitating peer-to-peer exchange.
In his welcome remarks, ICLEI Secretary General Gino Van Begin emphasized that this was an opportune time to strengthen climate action plans of cities that put premium on citizen engagement throughout the formulation and implementation process. He said that the ACP project drew inspiration from the Promise of Seoul that was launched by the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) in 2015. The Promise of Seoul is characterized by an ambitious climate action plan that engages the commitment of 10 million Seoul residents.
Mr. Ranell Martin Dedicatoria, ICLEI Southeast Asia Regional Program Manager, presented the project’s overall progress highlighting how ambition, inclusion, and peer-to-peer exchange were embedded in the activities implemented. He explained that by the end of the project, the cities were expected to deliver their respective City Promises characterized by ambitious climate actions to reduce their city’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through citizen-led and citizen-driven initiatives.
Participating local governments joined a panel discussion moderated by Mr. Sunandan Tiwari of ICLEI World Secretariat. The cities of Pasig and Paranaque in the Philippines; the cities of Hanoi, Soc Son, and Son Tay in Vietnam; the host city, SMG; and a representative from ICLEI Indonesia were panelists.
Ms. Le Thanh Thuy of Hanoi’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment said that the ACP project had helped push for the inclusion of mitigation actions in updating the city’s climate action plan. Previously, it was mostly focused on adaptation strategies. The conduct of continuous dialogues with stakeholders in the formulation process helped build trust between the citizens and the government.
On the other hand, Mr. Robert Anthony Siy of Pasig City’s Transport Development and Management Office said that the city is continuously setting up policies and infrastructures to enable the city’s population to shift towards low carbon mobility. Pasig has expanded the allocation and improvement of networks of bicycle lanes and parking spaces as well as added bicycle units for rent along the city’s central business district. “The city’s goal is to induce a shift in the mindset of Pasigueños to move away from the use of private car or car-centric development towards a preference to low emission mobility options, Mr. Siy explained.
Ms. Happy Tiara Asvita, Local Government Associate of ICLEI Indonesia explained that DKI Jakarta had considered religion as an important sector in the formulation of its action plan. She said that the participation of religious groups was vital because religion determines the citizens’ lifestyle in the city. Through religion, citizens are able to understand that environmental protection and conservation is already ingrained in their values. Their involvement is crucial in reaching DKI Jakarta’s ambitious target of reducing 30% of its GHG emissions by 2030.
The “satellite cities of Paranaque”, Soc Son and Son Tay, all acknowledged the benefits from the peer-to-peer exchange with SMG. Mr. Isabelo Mojica, Assistant Head of the City Environment Office in Parañaque City said that “as a relatively young office dedicated to environmental protection and management… the peer-to-peer exchanges helped us draw inspiration in coming up with legal basis in promoting environmental plans and programs.”
Apart from the panel discussion, the session also saw the launch of Pasig City’s EcoPledge platform. The online platform aims to provide a feedback mechanism where stakeholders of Pasig can post their commitments to a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle.
In closing, Director General for Air Quality Planning Bureau of SMG Ms. Ami Koo expressed her elation at seeing that nine Southeast Asian cities from three countries were drawing inspiration from Seoul’s experience through the ACP project. She mentioned that in 2021, the second version of the Promise of Seoul will be launched to monitor all efforts and initiatives made by SMG.
The ACP project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU) through the International Climate Initiative (IKI) program. The project commits to reduce GHG emissions through participatory and inclusive local climate actions in selected cities in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. (ICLEI Southeast Asia Secretariat/ Kristianne Jemi Santos)