Key Messages from the ICLEI Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific Forum in Melaka, Malaysia, March 2016

2016_03_03_Malaysia - Melaka - ICLEI RCAP (2)

By Renard Teipelke

The following are a couple of key messages and interesting thoughts from the ICLEI Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific Forum, held in Melaka, Malaysia, 2-4 March 2016.

On capacities and partnership:

  • There will always be trade-offs for convincing actors to join your effort.
  • Youth are not only leaders of tomorrow, they are also leaders of today.
  • You need to build the capacity of people before they will listen and engage.
  • Use smart monitoring – engage stakeholders, as they provide the feedback service at no cost.
  • Mayors better use the youth, as they are a strong force.
  • Pay attention to capacitate several departments, as often qualified city staff is leaving to new opportunities.
  • We should rather talk about mistakes: Not what we have delivered informs others, but what we have learned.

On successful management:

  • We cannot get rid of our city, but we can improve it.
  • Complaints by citizens are an opportunity for improvement, not a nuisance to local government.
  • It is good to plan for everything, but to prioritize along timelines and budgets.
  • You should have initiatives run by non-electives.
  • Financiers go for those cities that have their house in order.
  • To start with, mayors can ensure the wellbeing of their citizens by earning enough revenues to maintain services and infrastructure.
  • In our city, we introduced an electronic budgeting system where every 50 seconds I can see what money comes in and out of my city’s pockets.
  • If city officials have the courage and motivation to approach partners with their ideas and plans, they will receive support and money. But they have to ask for it.
  • If you offer pilot projects for investment and capacity support, development partners can do their preferred cherry picking and political decision-makers can put their commitment behind projects, which they will need to seek reelection.

 

On sustainable development:

  • How to achieve a sustainable city? No flip-flopping, consistency.
  • Resilience is about continuity.
  • It is a big challenge that still spatial and socio-economic planning only show weak linkages.
  • The institutional fragmentation of budget preparation along sectoral lines limits investment capacities.
  • Often cities are not aware of how disasters and recovery actually impact on their budgets.
  • Even if there is no money, appointing a budget head for disaster risk reduction helps to initiate a change of mindset in your local administration.
  • The 3Es (economy, environment, and equity) are fine, but they do not make a compelling story – livable city, however, provides a nice frame.
  • If you look too much at the bigger picture, you forget about the common people – why not take the perspective of a single person from time to time?!

 

On international agreements:

  • Often national governments come back with all the nice international agreements, but then it is usually up to the local and regional level to implement them.
  • Local government should push higher-level governments by pointing out imminent risks and related international agreements for which these governments can be held accountable.
  • The regional level can bring together actors effectively.
  • Local actions are decisive over the success or failure of the SDGs.
  • We should not forget that there are existing plans and policies, thus international agreements do not enter an empty field of implementation.
  • Combine relevant agendas in the implementation.
  • Connect your local actions with boxes – boxes of UN agencies, national policies, international agreements, regional programs, etc.
  • The fact that most people have not heard about the MDGs during their many years of preparation and implementation teaches a valuable lesson about the importance to communicate and educate with the SDGs.
  • If you let stakeholders imagine their preferred future first, you can then check how these dreams link up with SDGs.
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