The Minister for Lands, Housing and Survey, Hon. Ishmael Avui has applauded the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asia-Pacific (ESCAP) for its leadership role in the process for urbanization in the region.
When delivering Solomon Islands country statement on Monday at this week’s 8th Asia Pacific Urbanization Forum (APUF8) in Suwon City, South Korea, Hon. Avui said Solomon Islands recognizes the great work done by ESCAP since the first forum was convened in 1993. Since then, ESCAP actively took a leading role hosting forums consisting of high-level plenary sessions, parallel sessions and dialogues and trainings across the region.
Since its inception in 1993, ESCAP has been playing a critical role in four vital areas including Urban and Territorial Planning, City Climate Action and Resilience, Inclusive Urban Digitalization and Innovation, and Financing of Urban Solutions.
Avui said the ESCAP’s Asia Pacific Urban Forum is an important platform that gathers leaders, policy makers, experts and financiers around the world to share ideas, experiences and solutions to challenges that associates with urbanization in the region.
“The Asia Pacific Urban Forum provides my country great opportunities to develop further on what we already know about urban challenges as well learn new tools and solutions shared by participating countries on the four critical themes including urban and territorial planning, city climate action and resilience, inclusive urban digitalization and innovation, and financing of urban solutions,” Avui said.
In demonstrating its obligation and commitment to the Organisation, a six member delegation from the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey led by Hon. Avui represented Solomon Islands this week in the city of Suwon in South Korea attending high level and technical sessions at the 8th APUF.
This week’s Forum have noted that the ‘urban age’ in Asia and the Pacific has witnessed unprecedented growth, economic development and technological advancements leading to the transformation of cities and significant shifts in the social, economic, political and environmental landscape across the region.
It further noted that growing inequality across cities has become a concerning issue, with the rising cost of living, limited job opportunities and lack of affordable housing exacerbating inequality, leading to unequal access to opportunities, increasing vulnerability and social exclusion.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated entrenched vulnerabilities, both at the city scale and within cities and urban households, resulting in increased urban inequalities.
This has put to the test the principle of leaving no one and no place behind, which underpins the UN Sustainable Development Goals. As a result, cities in Asia and the Pacific are grappling with the need to balance economic growth with sustainability, inclusivity and resilience.
The Forum also noted that simultaneous occurrence and interplay of COVID-19 with other crises pose significant challenges to urban policymakers, leaders and communities, particularly in Asia and the Pacific, a region historically prone to disaster risks and already facing severe threats from the impacts of the climate crisis.
The real-time convergence of health, climate, societal and geopolitical disruptions underscore the urgent need for multidimensional urban resilience and highlights the compounding effects of multiple system pressures on the most isolated, disadvantaged and marginalized populations.
Over the next 15 years of the Sustainable Development Goals, Asia and the Pacific are projected to account for nearly 60 percent of the world’s urban growth, adding 0.7 billion people to the region’s cities and towns, with a similar increase projected by the middle of this century.
Held every four to five years, the Forum is the largest regional gathering of urban stakeholders, engaging policymakers from local and national governments, financial institutions, civil society, the academia, the urban training-research community and private sector to discuss innovative solutions, identify common actions and objectives and strengthen effective partnerships to achieve sustainable urban development.