UNU-IAS, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), UN-Habitat and other partners have launched the Mayors Academy for Sustainable Urban Development in the Asia-Pacific, a new initiative to create and support a network of local leaders who will be committed to sustainable urban development in the region. The academy provides participating mayors with tools, strategies, and models to improve their capacity to achieve the SDGs in their constituencies, through appropriate city planning and management approaches. It fosters exchange, peer-learning, and cooperation between city leaders to enhance their leadership capacity, and provides a framework for short- to medium-term planning and action towards adoption of more sustainable development pathways.
The academy comprises training sessions and ongoing peer-learning, and is organised in collaboration with the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), and the United Cities and Local Governments-Asia Pacific (UCLG-ASPAC).
Launched on 15 October 2019 at the Asia-Pacific Urban Forum in Penang, Malaysia, the academy will run until December 2020. In February 2020 participating mayors will present proposed work plans at the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi.
In 2015, UN Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda and its seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are designed to put the world on a path towards a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous future. On the current trajectory, it is estimated to be difficult for Asia and the Pacific to achieve any of the 17 SDGs by 2030. Accelerated progress is required on all fronts.
It is crucial that local governments are enabled to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. For example, local ownership needs to be fostered to ensure support for this transformative action plan. Moreover, transformative local implementation is dependent on the availability of sufficient knowledge, capacities, resources and appropriate multi-level governance arrangements. In addition to translating the SDGs and their targets into concrete local policies, actions and programmes, it is important for local governments to develop appropriate follow-up and review processes to track progress on implementation.
As most of the projected urban growth in Asia and the Pacific will occur in intermediate cities, their role will continue to expand, with the mayors of these cities and other subnational authorities quickly emerging as potential leaders to promote sustainable urbanization throughout the region. In this context, the Mayors Academy will mainly target mayors, especially those who are newly-elected or appointed, to provide better access to information, greater awareness of regional resources, and a support network to assist in the acceleration of urban sustainability initiatives.
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UNU-IAS is engaged in this initiative as part of its Governance for Sustainable Development (GSD) project, which addresses the policymaking processes and governance structures needed for achieving the SDGs.