Inclusive transboundary governance at Asia-Pacific Urban Forum

Thursday, October 31, 2019

This blog captures the key recommendations for the United Nations Seventh Asia-Pacific Urban Forum (APUF-7) from the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance’s session on the importance of transboundary action and inclusive governance in building urban flood resilience. 

The 7th Asia-Pacific Urban Forum, chaired by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and held every four to five years, took place in Penang, Malaysia from October 15-17th. The main objective of this year’s forum was to accelerate the implementation of sustainable urban development to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance at United Nations seventh Asia-Pacific Urban Forum

The Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance led a session focused on the importance of inclusive transboundary governance for resilient cities, by focusing on opportunities and challenges of integrating urban flood risk into planning at local, sub-national, and international levels. The session was led by Mercy Corps, with speakers from the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition-International (ISET-International) and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), and highlighted case studies from Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Mekong River Basin

How to Promote Inclusive Transboundary Governance to Strengthen Urban Flood Resilience

Governance for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, including flood resilience, sits in a wider ecosystem with diverse stakeholders and interests. Practitioners and policy makers need to employ a comprehensive systems approach to understand the context beyond the city level. They need to consider political, social, natural, and economic features and adopt a landscape approach. 

Transboundary landscape perspectives are key to understanding the root causes of flooding and its impact. Evidence is critical to promote these perspectives, for example the economic and social impacts of upstream activities in downstream areas. Governments should lead in identifying evidence and research gaps that hinder effective decision making, and donors, multi-lateral agencies, and civil society organizations should invest in research and advocacy to promote evidence-based policy making. Such evidence needs to reach decision makers of key policies and laws that go beyond disaster management and climate change adaptation, and inform broader development plans and urban planning policies.

Cooperation and coordination is important to ensure decision making in transboundary contexts considers impacts on all parties. Multi-stakeholder platforms can be an effective tool in bringing together different actors to build coalitions and find incentives and common interests. It is vital that voices from the most vulnerable communities are heard, civil society organizations can and should play a key role in facilitating their participation. The sharing of data, studies, and capacities beyond administrative boundaries is critical, as is strengthening connections between urban, land, and water resources planners through multi-stakeholder engagement.

These recommendations will feed into the final reporting of the event in the form of an APUF-7 Call for Action to inform member state discussions, actions and policies. 

For more recommendations from Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance on achieving flood resilience and sustainable development in Asia read this blog by Mercy Corps’ Arzu Culhaci from Asia Pacific Climate Week earlier this year. You can also read The future of Asia-Pacific cities which the team has contributed to. 

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