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JAKARTA—The Philippines’s Permanent Representative to Asean Elizabeth P. Buensuceso delivered the inaugural remarks for the 2018 Asean Mayors Forum (AMF) on July 7 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
With the theme, “Building Sustainable and Smart Development in Asean Cities and Region,” the AMF was held on the sidelines of the World Cities Summit. The forum welcomed mayors and governors from Southeast Asian cities and local governments, including Gov. Anies Baswedan of Jakarta.
Taguig City Mayor Maria Laarni L. Cayetano is currently the acting chairman of the forum, which she also chaired in 2017.
In her remarks, Buensuceso emphasized the focus accorded by the leaders of Asean to the important role played by local governments in the bloc’s community building across the three pillars contained in the Chairman’s Summary of the 32nd Asean Summit.
“Asean leaders underscored the important role of cities—leveraging on innovation and technology—to improve the lives of all [its] peoples,” Buensuceso said.
The ambassador added that as a result, the region’s leaders “agreed to establish an Asean Smart Cities Network [ASCN] to synergize development efforts, share best practices and catalyze more opportunities for growth, innovation, capacity building and sustainable development.”
She commended the AMF as a “worthy endeavor that helps ensure local governments across Asean help each other in improving the lives of the peoples they serve—a true embodiment of realizing a people-centered, people-oriented [region].”
Buensuceso also discussed that one of the major projects in the initial stages of implementation under the Master Plan on Asean Connectivity 2025 is “Develop Sustainable Urban Strategies in Asean Cities,” a project funded by the Asean-Australia Development Cooperation Fund.
The said project takes into account important factors in attaining sustainable and livable cities, such as inclusiveness, especially as it pertains to housing, environment, economic efficiency, health and cultural heritage.
As outlined by the Filipino ambassador, the project will have three main elements, namely: (1) creating an index on smart urbanization; (2) creating a platform that would allow city-level officials in the region to share best practices; and (3) launching an initiative on smart transport models in key cities within the bloc.
Philippine representatives to the AMF included Bataan Gov. Albert S. Garcia, Balanga City Mayor Francis S. Garcia, Catbalogan City Mayor Stephany Uy-Tan, Iriga City Mayor Madelaine Y. Alfelor and Sorsogon City Mayor Sally Ante-Lee.
The Philippine mayors also presented the best practices of their respective cities and municipalities in addressing challenges concerning disaster management, human resources and skills developments, health risks and transport management.
The AMF is a forum where mayors, governors and local government leaders across Southeast Asia can network, foster policy debate and support sharing of expertise, as well as good practices among local governments in Asean member-countries on specific themes identified as priorities.
The fourth AMF was organized by the United Cities and Local Governments in Asia-Pacific and the Singapore-based Centre for Livable Cities. AMF 2017 was hosted by the Philippines—then-Asean chairman—at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City.