The 4th South Asian Cities Summit, organised by All India Institute of Local Self-Government (AIILSG) at India Habitat Centre on May 4-5, 2018, proved to be a great platform to discuss key urban issues in South Asian Countries and beyond. Over 80 speakers and 500 participants from 15 countries pro-actively participated in the discussions on a range of subjects varying from urban development, municipal leadership, urban design, energy efficiency, pro-poor policies and liveable urban environment
NEW DELHI: The 4th South Asian Cities Summit, organised by All India Institute of Local Self-Government (AIILSG) at India Habitat Centre on May 4-5, 2018, proved to be a great platform to discuss key urban issues in South Asian Countries and beyond. Over 80 speakers and 500 delegates from 15 countries participated in the discussions on a range of subjects varying from urban development and municipal leadership to urban design, energy efficiency, pro-poor policies and liveable urban environment
SAC Summit-2018 had a total of 14 technical and breakout sessions for city leaders, municipal officials and participants from a variety of disciplines from urban development domain. Rajesh Kumar Diwakar, Member of Parliament (Hathras) inaugurated the Summit, while Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia graced the occasion as the Chief Guest during the closing of the first day. Diwakar said that the NDA government has initiated many programmes to address issues relating to pollution, negative impacts of climate change, and sanitation. “I am glad AIILSG is working in this domain and has delivered good results. I am confident that an event like this will encourage all stakeholders to take initiatives at their end and bring forward feasible solutions for cities”, he said.
Deputy CM of Delhi also hailed the idea of local governance and said that his government has been working with citizens to improve health and education services in Delhi. He gave the example of Mohalla Clinics through which the Delhi government has significantly improved health service for the poor and marginalized.
Rajiv Agarwal, IAS (Retd.), Director General, AIILSG, delivered the welcome address. He said: “In this Summit, we aim to enhance the responsiveness of local governments on global commitments made for sustainable development. This summit targets to provide a valuable platform where the governors, mayors, city officials, and other local stakeholders can learn from their peers and grow a supportive network for local governments in South Asia. This event underlines the critical role and participation of local governments in achieving sustainable development goals and targets under New Urban Agenda.”
He added that many urban issues are transboundary in nature and thus compel our integrated efforts and coordination between countries. These include climate change, disaster risk reduction, terror threats, as well as the preservation of rich cultures amidst modernization. Transboundary cooperation will also bring positive economic growth and environmental improvement towards sustainable cities with sound development policy. We have always seen nation to nation bilateral relations but city to city relationships can benefit our cities. Ravi Ranjan Guru, Deputy Director General of AIILSG, delivered the theme address and set the agenda for the Summit. He said that the earlier editions of the Summit focused on Smart City aspirations of citizens of India. Following which many other countries in the South Asia region have launched similar urban initiatives. This year, we have decided to focus on New Urban Agenda and SDGs so that urban local bodies in India can jointly work to achieve the objectives under these international frameworks. Dr Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi, Secretary General of UCLG-ASPAC, said, “We have overall 169 targets and more than 200 indicators in 17 SDGs. And, more than 65 per cent of the work required for achieving these goals has to be done by local bodies.” Dr M Ramachandran, Former Secretary of Urban Development, delivered the keynote address. He underlined the importance of the event and said that the conference is an important platform to take stock of the huge challenges we face in terms of creation of new jobs and prosperity for all without straining land and resources. He further informed the audience about the SDG 11 and how can these citiesplan sustainable development without disturbing urban ecosystem. To spread awareness among all stakeholders in cities, the guests and city representatives released white balloons printed with 17 SDGs and their taglines, in order to spread knowledge of SDGs among the public
Sanyukta Bhatia, Mayor of Lucknow; Namgay Tshering, Deputy Mayor of Thimphu, Bhutan; Manju Malasi, Mayor of Silgadhi Municipality, Nepal; Allagamuthu Nanadakumar, Chairman Hatton PradeshiyaSaba, Sri Lanka; Md Abdul Baten, President, Municipal Association of Bangladesh & Mayor, Bera Municipality, Pabna, Bangladesh; and Nafea Naseer, Local Government Authority, Maldives were also present at the inaugural ceremony.
Designing the Local
This Session ‘Designing the Local: Realising the New Urban Agenda’was jointly organised by School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi and AIILSG. It focused on micro designs and place making activities related to resilience, gender responsive urban design and community participation in place making.
Dr Arunava Das Gupta, HOD, Urban Design, SPA Delhi, moderated the session. Other panellists included Prof Manu Mahajan, Anshu Sharma and Revitee Mandal. The key outcomes of the session were:
The New Urban Agenda represents a shared vision for a better and more sustainable future, one in which all people have equal rights and access to the benefits and opportunities that cities can offer. This can be achieved by exploiting locally-remarkable cultural, historic, and aspirational designs and economic development ideas to create inspired plans and projects of every kind. “Local Area Planning (LAP) is believed to be the key for achieving community development and designing the local”, said Manu Mahajan from SPA Delhi. Community development is to be based on the decentralised Local Area Plans (LAP) with participatory approach of community by understanding the need for public participation in their community’s development and management process through installing ownership and pride among individuals in their homes, mohallas, neighbourhoods and their city and therefore all citizens will make the effort to continuously improve the process that has been started.
Sustainable management of water and sanitation
The session mainly focused on highlighting the gravity of the issues of waste management, access to sanitation facilities, problems of safe drinking water & water scarcity, etc. The session was chaired by Jairaj Phatak, former Commissioner of BMC and co-chaired & moderated by Chetan Vaidya, Former Director at SPA & NIUA and currently the Urban Advisor to UNDP, India. Other eminent panellists included Ram Gopal Mohle, former Mayor, Varanasi; Santosh Kumar Sharma, CEO Smart City, Aligarh; Ranjan K Panda, Convenor of Combat Climate Change Network; JayeshMandlik; Head, Water, AIILSG; Nicholas Osbert; Chief Water, Sanitation & Hygiene UNICEF India; and VijayantiPadiyar; Partner- Hiranyagarbha Corporate Advisors.
- Every city needs to ensure 24×7 water supply, equitable distribution, reduction in non-revenue water and improvement of information management through GIS, Customers’ database, etc. for sustainable water management.
- Adequate water conservation measures necessary in all large cities. As a result, concepts like the Water Footprint, Desalination and Recycling of sewerage water are seen as evolving technologies for water usage and treatment.
- Focus should lie on getting the basics right by enactment of strict laws to stop rampant exploitation of the ground water, encroaching on the natural wet lands which are life line boundaries, discharge of domestic & industrial wastes into our river & lake bodies; using plastics in all forms, using technologies which will effect entire communities like use of chlorine toners for disinfection.
South Asian Mayors Forum
AIILSG organised the South Asian Mayors Forum in which more than 50 mayors and chairpersons of municipal councils across South Asian countries participated. Dr Sudhir Krishna, Chairman of Delhi Finance Commission, chaired the Forum. Hansa Patel, Executive Advisor, AIILSG; Dr Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi, Secretary General of UCLG-ASPAC, Amanda Eichel, Representative of GCoM Secretariat; Ravi Ranjan Guru, DDG, AIILSG were also present.
All the mayors unanimously agreed to hold regular dialogues at their level. Many mayors also suggested that such meeting should be held not just in Delhi but in other parts of the region too to ensure everyone gets first-hand experience of the works being carried out by other cities. Chandigarh Mayor Devesh Maudgil said that this platform should also be used for empowering mayoral powers for building better cities in India. He added that mayors have limited powers where in a city like Chandigarh, the tenure of mayor is just one year. In such a short tenure, no mayor can bring phenomenal changes in the city development. Sanjukta Bhatia, Mayor of Lucknow, also agreed and said that the government needs to empower mayors then only India can solve the evolving urban issues and execute the programs/projects required to achieve international goals. Hansa Patel added that South Asian Mayors Forum would be organised at a regular interval, not just during the South Asian Cities Summit. She added that a secretariat for the same will be created soon. Dr Bernadia also agreed and assured to extend all possible support to the initiative.
Launching of United Network of Circular Cities
United Network of Circular Cities was launched in a breakout session on the first day of South Asian Cities Summit. The objective of the Network is to create an ecosystem and partnership among businesses, communities and individual citizens collaborating with public and private sectors and deploy solution and economic resources for green growth and resource efficient economy in cities.
Dr. Amitha A. Jayaram, IAAS, DAG delivered the keynote address and highlighted the fact that the traditional economy was circular which we have lost, and advocated the need for integrating the circular practice in manufacturing and operational practices. After the official launch of the Network, a panel discussion on India’s position on Resources Efficiency for Circular Cities was also held.
Dr Suneel Pandey, Director of Green Growth & Resource Efficiency Division, TERI, stated that there is great scope of circular economy in ensuring resource efficiency. Dr Sanchita Jindal, Former Adviser, MoEF& CC advocated the importance of 100% waste segregation for zero waste economy, ensuring only non-recyclable, non-inflammable goes to landfill. Harsh Thukral, Deputy Director, NPC, moderated the session. A session was dedicated to review the best practices on Circular Economy and Circular Cities. Silvia De Vaan, Founder–SweepSmart, shared the experiences in her journey as a professional and the Social Enterprise, SweepSmart that is dedicated to smart inclusive waste management in India. She advocated the application of technology and IoT in smart waste management.
Narasingha Panigrahi – Founder, SGR Pvt Ltd. enlightened the audience with profit making social enterprise business model with circular economy in its ethos and providing services to its partners through capacity building and technical assistance.
Pranshu Singhal, Founder, KaroSambhav raised the importance of extended producer responsibility (EPR and of educating the informal sector in waste management. He added that resource recovery from waste prevents wastage, ensures green economy and creates wealth and opportunities for informal and unorganised sectors. The session was moderated by Shobha Raghavan of SAHAS Zero Waste.
Breathing Cities Network launched
Breathing Cities Network was launched on the second day of the Summit with an objective to implement Local Action Plan on Clean Air (LAP). The network aspires to create a voluntary alliance of National, Sub-National, Private Sector, IGOs and NGOs with Urban Local Bodies and Cities at the core of its agenda. The primary idea is to enable and empower local governments with expertise, services technologies, solutions and financing on clean air and help implement Local Action Plan (LAP). The session was co-organised in participation with Clean Air Asia (CAA), an International NGO with focus on regional air pollution reduction, better air quality and livable cities in Asia.
Dr Jyoti Parikh, Executive Director of Integrated Research and Action for Development, listed out the short, medium and long term actions that need to be executed to reduce air pollutants in Delhi. Her suggestions included promotion of cycling, introduction of BS VI standard and electric vehicles. She insisted on technological development for restoring the AQ to breathable level. Shakti Singh Choudhary, Mayor, Gangtok Municipal Corporation talked about the initiatives by their Government e.g. complete ban on fire crackers, 100 % organic and GMO-free State.
Tikendar Singh Panwar, Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla discussed means of better governance in combating the menace of Air pollution in South Asian countries, particularly Delhi. He emphasised on the need to provide a robust public transport system at a very low cost to increase the footfalls. Prarthana Borah, India Director, Clean Air Asia (CAA) moderated the Session and discussed key issues and challenges in tackling air pollution and mitigation efforts required.
Dr Arun Kumar Sharma, Director- Professor, Department of Community Medicine, University College of Medical Science raised the issue of lack of data regarding air pollution and its health impacts were clearly highlighted by Dr. Sharma. He questioned the data on the deaths reported by the air pollution due to cardiopulmonary diseases. He also noted that the severe lack of data will hamper the research in the health sector. Though air pollution is prevalent all over the nation, the source varies place to place, for example: crop burning in Delhi, humidity in Mumbai and PM due to mining in Chhattisgarh. There is no definite data on the health implications of each of these individual pollutants on human health.
Damandeep Singh, Director, CDP India stressed the lack of real-time data to assess air quality and provide information to the public. He stressed on the importance of monitoring air pollutant levels not just in Delhi, but in most cities as 14 of the 15 most polluted cities are from India. He also informed the audience that CDP is integrating the importance of capturing air pollution data from cities in their reporting framework. Dr Suresh Kumar Jain, HoD and Professor, Department of Energy and Environment, TERI University deciphered the science behind sources of Short-Lived Climate Pollutants with larger emphasis on integrated approach for SLCPs reduction. He said that the role of CSOs could be crucial in restoring the right to breathe clean air.
Sustainable Energy Management for Cities
The Session Affordable & Clean Energy – Sustainable Energy Management for Cities had eminent panellist from the energy, development and architecture sector. Ashok B Lall, a noted architect, chaired the session. In his opening remarks, he focused on how we can achieve a low carbon resource efficient sustainable urban fabric. He said, the urbanization in India is increasing yet the affordable and sustainable urban development is close to non-existent. He went on to demonstrate ways by which we can practice sustainable urban development from the building/plot level, the neighbourhood level and the city level. He concluded with regulatory recommendations for building, neighbourhood and street level design with case studies.
René Van Berkel, a representative from the regional office of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), talked about the UNIDO’s Sustainable Cities Agenda and how industries can have a cohesive, sustainable and resource efficient symbiosis with the city. Another panellist, Shankar Haldar, Lead Technical Expert (EEC, SIDBI) started his address by introducing ESCOs (Energy Service Company) and their need in the current energy market. He explained the differences in the world and Indian markets and its challenges.
Ar Roshni Udyavar Yehuda (V.P Sustainability, ICMQ India Certification Pvt. Ltd.) shared her experience of implementing the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) in Maharashtra. She explained the three different implementation approaches that can be taken in a state as well as various building permission processes under ECBC. The last session was conducted by Kanagaraj Ganesan from AIILSG who shared his experience in implementing ECBC across 16 states and UTs in India. He introduced the history of the code and the different components of the code including Building Envelope, Comfort Systems & Controls, Lighting Controls and Renewable Energy Systems. Also,
\he spoke about updating of the Soar (Schedule of Rates) document in Karnataka and various ECBC demonstration projects taken in India.
Delhi Declaration-2018 and the way forward
The two-day SAC Summit which saw participation of about 500 city leaders and municipal officials from 15 countries brought forward several of their noteworthy ideas and experiences and showcased their innovative works in a range of areas and inspired their counterparts in other cities. The Summit concluded with the signing of the Delhi Declaration-2018 which had a series of commitments made for improving urban eco-system in the times of evolving urban challenges relating to climate change.
Ravi Ranjan Guru, Deputy Director General of AIILSG, said,“Delhi declaration is a way of showing your commitment towards listed actions for making cities sustainable and in sync with international goals like New Urban Agenda, Paris Accord, and SDGs.”
Dr Jatin Modi, President Emeritus of AIILSG, also reiterated the slogan by WHO“Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with care.” Modi also talked about the negative impacts of globalization and its impact on human lives. He called for a collective movement from professionals, mayors and all other stakeholders to take up these issues with high priority and strong commitment so that our eco-system is preserved and well-guarded. He also floated the idea of ‘Bio-Folic Cities’. He explained that these cities are such which are not far away from nature.
Later, Guru read out the list of commitments in the Delhi Declaration-2018 and requested all the delegates to propose any changes. After all the delegates agreed on the final amendments, all the city leaders signed the Declaration.
Rajiv Agarwal, Director General of AIILSG, gave the concluding speech and thanked all the participants for their pro-active role in organizing the Summit. He said that the outcome report of the Summit will be submitted to the government and also be made available to all the participants so that everyone can benefit from the learnings of the Summit.