South Asian Cities Summit to drive sustainable urban development

The South Asian Cities Summit is the flagship event of All India Institute of Local Self-Government. This year, AIILSG is organising the Summit in partnership with United Cities Local Governments – Asia Pacific (UCLG-ASPAC), UN-Habitat and International Urban Cooperation (IUC) of the European Union. National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), Cities Alliance and CITYNET are among the several other partners.

The event recognizes the crucial importance of cooperation, collaboration and collective action among cities and organisations in addressing and overcoming the similar and sometimes, common challenges faced by cities in a region – South Asia in this case. The 2018 Summit, the Fourth of the series is being held at New Delhi on 4th and 5th May. The Theme for this Summit is ‘New Urban Agenda & Localising SDGs’. We have felt the need to bring together minds from the region – mayors, municipal authorities, architects, urban planners, environmentalists and several others in order to leverage the multi-disciplinary expertise to address the complex challenges cities face. With the global population racing towards a majorly urban character with about two-thirds of the population to be city dwellers within the next 20-25 years, there is need not just for addressing the challenges effectively but for preparing cities to welcome the new city dwellers. During the last few decades, the rapid and relentless urbanisation has been viewed in several quarters as an undesirable, yet essential outcome of economic development. Policies have sometimes been crafted to resist the onslaught. Urbanisation nonetheless, has not been halted. But this circumspect approach has left cities ill-equipped and manifests in many of the pervasive problems that we see today, such as housing shortages leading to proliferation of slums and service delivery deficits.

The New Urban Agenda seeks to address these issues and urge cities towards more sustainable development on several dimensions – economic, social and environmental. It acknowledges sub-national and local governments as key players in addition to national governments. Their role in promoting social inclusion and ending poverty cannot be overemphasized. Local governments have crucial roles in the areas of education and public health which are key inputs in the transformative process towards more equitable societies. We are confident that these and several other aspects will be addressed in detail with wide-ranging consultations and sharing among the delegates at the Summit.

Alongside we are holding the International Skill Conclave 2018 on 5th May at the same venue. Skilling of the growing youth populations in several South Asian countries, notably India is a crucial input in order to provide gainful employment to large numbers. At the same time, it can provide a steady supply of well-equipped, efficient and competitive workforce to meet the demands of various sectors of the economy. In view of this pivotal role of skilling in the economies of several nations, the event will bring together policymakers, industry, non-government actors and several others from the international arena to share ideas and experiences. There will be domain experts from several industry sectors such as IT, healthcare, education and manufacturing.

We are sure that these events will enable cities in the South Asian region to benefit significantly in their quest for better livability and sustainability. This issue of Urban Update is a special edition devoted to the Summit. We carry contributions by some of the speakers and panellists thus adding greater variety and depth to urban issues and a more enriching experience.

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