On 17 August 2022, the graduation session of the Asia-Pacific Mayors Academy 2021–2022 concluded this annual capacity development programme focused on urban sustainability issues. Eight mayors from the Asia-Pacific region successfully completed the academy, and will join the alumni network to continue their engagement in advocating for sustainable urban development.
Opening the session, Kaveh Zahedi (Officer-in-Charge, UNESCAP) highlighted the wide range of initiatives implemented by the mayors in leading their cities forward to emerge stronger and more resilient. He encouraged them to undertake the Voluntary Local Review process to mobilise their communities, monitor progress against the SDG targets, and close gaps between national and local policies. Maimunah Mohd Sharif (Executive Director, UN-HABITAT) congratulated the graduates on their achievements and commitment to balancing city governance with sustainable development during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The mayors presented their final projects on various sustainable urban development themes: tourism infrastructure (Naftalan, Azerbaijan), climate change resiliency (Chandpur, Bangladesh), flood prevention (Kochi, India), smart city solutions (Sepang, Malaysia), services digitalisation (Fuvahmulah, Maldives), medical facility development (Iloilo City, Philippines), sustainable infrastructure (Shusha, Azerbaijan), and sustainable agriculture (Ismayilli, Azerbaijan). Reflecting on their learnings the graduates discussed challenges and opportunities in governance, financing, policy, and technology.
Bernadia Tjandradewi (Secretary-General, UCLG ASPAC) commended the participants for identifying urban sustainability challenges and developing concrete plans to build sustainable cities and deliver better quality of life for their inhabitants. Akio Takemoto (Programme Head and Administration, UNU-IAS) encouraged mayors to implement integrated and inclusive policies to achieve carbon neutrality, synergise the SDGs and climate action, and enhance multi-stakeholder partnerships. Yasuo Takahashi (Executive Director, IGES) underlined the critical role of city leaders in addressing pressing urban concerns, creating a sustainable society, and accelerating the localisation of the SDGs. Christopher Tremewan (Secretary General, APRU) highlighted the need to facilitate more partnerships between mayors and other stakeholders to drive and guide sustainable urban development.
In closing remarks, Sangmin Nam (Director, Environment and Development Division, UNESCAP) emphasised the academy’s ongoing support for the graduates as they moved on to implement their initiatives, mobilise their communities, and work with national governments to promote sustainable urban development.
Concluding the session, Bruno Dercon (Officer-in-Charge, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, UN-HABITAT) praised the mayors’ pragmatic approach to urban challenges, which incorporated finance strategies and milestone setting.
The Asia-Pacific Mayors Academy is co-organised by UNU-IAS, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), UN-HABITAT, United Cities and Local Government Asia Pacific (UCLG ASPAC), the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES).
Further information is available on the academy website.