RESPONDING to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, UCLG ASPAC, in close collaboration with Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) and Wellington City Government convened its Executive Bureau (ExBu) Meeting 2020 firstly virtually by highlighting discussion on international forum ‘Getting to the New Normal: The Role of Local Government in Building Sustainable Communities in a Post COVID-19 World’ on 24th and 25th August 2020. Both the Forum and ExBu meeting attended by more than 200 participants from 75 cities and local governments within the Asia and Pacific region as well as partners.
Mr. Dave Cull, former President of LGNZ, opened this very timely conceived International Forum. Participants were also warmly greeted by Mr. Andy Foster, Mayor of Wellington, who invited all attendees to join the Wellington Declaration and shared how Wellington is responding to the COVID-19 challenges. Mr. Stuart Crosby, the newly elected LGNZ President, shared the innovative approaches and need for strong public centric communication when addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and that the city provides financial support to help people stay at home as well as economic stimulus. Mayor Tri Rismaharini of Surabaya, President of UCLG ASPAC mentioned that we have to keep the spirit and solidarity alive although the battle against COVID-19 may still be a long way to go, and we can learn from each other with our experiences. In addition, Minister of Local Government of New Zealand, Ms. Nanaia Mahuta shared that New Zealand has committed to creating the job for the post COVID-19 recovery, building its local economy, and supporting the small busines, primarily Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) for economic recovery.
After all the lessons and perspectives from New Zealand, participants were also enriched with exploration of insights from the experts throughout the three sessions.
The Global Impact of COVID-19
Mr. Atsushi Koresawa (Director of UN-Habitat Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Fukuoka, Japan) connected the COVID-19 situation with SDGs achievement. He specifically shared ESCAP report mentioning the needs for Asia Pacific to accelerate actions otherwise none of the SDGs will be achieved.
Mr. Curt Garrigan mentioned approaches for improvement in Asia-Pacific including rapid response initial spread, as in general, countries in Southeast Asia took 17 days to declare the emergency or implement the lockdown after 50 cases are confirmed. However, such measures cannot be kept forever as gradually the basic fragility of health preparedness will start to come out.
City representatives were also enlightened by presentation of Dr. Gyeng Chul Kim, CEO DaeJeon Express Transit (DJET), Daejeon Metropolitan City who shared practices from Daejeon: 3T+P+S: Test (target funding war), Tracing (prevent family, society infection), and Treat (treath the infected and society) + P (Participant) + S (System).
Jakarta Deputy Governor for Culture and Tourism, Mr. Dadang Solihin shared that Jakarta applies pentahelix serving leadership in handling and facing coronavirus disease. In order to prevent and control the spread of COVID 19, the Provincial Government of Jakarta is implementing an integrated “end to end process” strategy.
Resilience Challenges, Planning, and COVID-19 Recovery
Deputy Chief of UNDRR the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Mr. Animesh Kumar shared that cities have become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. He highlighted the work of UNDRR including the Making Resilience Campaign.
Mr. Osman bin Hj. Ismail, Director of Enforcement Department, Kuala Lumpur City presented the experience of Kuala Lumpur and highlighted the movement control order, the overall strength of duty officers and staff. The scope of general assessment consists of monitoring of compliance with business premises and construction site activities based on a movement control order.
Cities Share Rebuild Strategies (Local Economic Development)
Ms. Maria-Varinia Michalun, Senior Project Manager and Policy Analyst Section on Economic Analysis and Multi-level Governance, OECD shared about the Territorial Impact of COVID-19: Managing the Crisis Across Levels of Government. Territorial impact in three dimensions includes economic (exposure to global value chains and sector specialisation (e.g. tourism), fiscal (increased expenditures, reduced revenues), health/social (more vulnerable regions, e.g. deprived urban areas) and certain vulnerable populations).
Mr. Xie Shuibin, Secretary-General of Guangzhou People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries highlighted steps to stabilise the local economy, National Guidance “Six Priorities” and stability in six areas for steady economic momentum, with a key focus on protecting market entities and ensuring employment: Employment, People’s Livelihoods, Market Entities, Food and Energy Security, Industrial and Supply Chains, and Smooth Functioning of Society.
The international discussion concluded with remarks from Mr. Stuart Crosby, new President of LGNZ outlining the start of the way for a minister here in New Zealand to stress the value of central and local government calibration, “It was a reason for it was not just between governments.” He also highlighted response towards the pandemic includes working with the university and business representatives. Besides, there was also emphasis on planning to ensure existing infrastructure able to deliver services recovery and in the future to integrate resilience as well as taking and recognising against which to fix not just at the national level, and above all the need to connect, respond and act on the concern of citizens.
In her closing remark, Mayor Tri Rismaharini of Surabaya, President UCLG ASPAC mentioned several approaches to adapt to the pandemic that we learn from experiences. She highlighted the need for building resiliences post-COVID-19 is very important. She further added on enhancing capacity in the form of an online platform, building resilience on the supply chains for food access and market access. As for the issues and the challenges, Mayor Risma called for local governments across the region to risen up to challenge in this unprecedented testing time. However, she added that local governments cannot do this alone; but need good enabling environment, including legal mandate, resources to meet the increasing demand. The support of the private sector and civil society is also essential in order to create solutions that are responsive to their needs. Most importantly, collaborative engagement between the governance system with citizen. “This is a battle we cannot afford to lost; we need to act fast and ensure that we are doing everything right, everything we do today serve as foundation of our cities tomorrow, the future we won are saved by our own hand,” she said.
The intensive discussion was then reflected in the Wellington Declaration that highlights the importance of collaboration, cooperation, knowledge sharing, and the use of information and technology to create a safer and prosperous Asia-Pacific region in adapting the New Normal. Wellington Declaration was adopted at the ExBu meeting held on 25th August 2020.
Executive Bureau Meeting
The 2020 Executive Bureau Meeting was held on 25 August 2020 and chaired by Mayor Tri Rismaharini, President of UCLG ASPAC and supported by Dr. Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi, Secretary General. Co-Presidents and ExBu members joined the firstly held virtual ExBu meeting.
There were points highlighted in the meeting:
- Manifesto 2020-2025
Priority areas of Manifesto include smart and sustainable city; responsible and safe and responsible tourism; green manufacturing; renewable energy; circular economy; incubation support for start-ups in health, food and green technology, food security and distribution; and health governance. Mayor Kim Hong-jang, Mayor of Dangjin Metropolitan City highlighted the importance of SDGs localisation. While Mayor Tri Rismaharini shared her thought to rethinking the perspectives to handle the next 5 years manifesto to anticipate the pandemic like this. The ExBu agreed to set up the new Committee for the Manifesto Development.
- UCLG ASPAC Congress 2021
The meeting also saw the adoption of decision to hold the 8th UCLG ASPAC Congress in Zhengzhou (China) from 24 to 28 April 2021, taking theme “From Steady Recovery to Sustained Prosperity in Post-COVID Asia-Pacific.” Procedure for election of President, Co-Presidents, ExBu and Council members was presented.
- New Committees Establishment
Also mentioned in the meeting was idea on new Committee establishment including Committee on Pacific Sub-Region (LGNZ expressed its willingness to lead) as well as Disaster Risk Reduction Resilience Committee as mentioned by Vice Mayor of Padang City. The ExBu members requested LGNZ and Padang City to submit their details proposals on those two proposed Committees.
- Membership Matters
Despite various issues such as withdrawal and waive, ExBu Meeting also saw and accepted application of new seven members: Bandar Lampung City, Tulsipur Sub Metropolitan City, Dhankuta Municipality, Birgunj Metropolitan City, Sejong City, Guiyang Municipal People’s Government, and Wuxi Municipal People’s Government.
- Other Business
Various issues under “Other Business” included capacity building programme, scholarship, and joint-programme by Xi’an, which will include areas such as economic revival post-COVID-19 pandemic, inclusive public space, tourism and culture, and heritage preservation and management. Jakarta Deputy Governor for Culture and Tourism, Mr. Dadang Solihin informed the ExBu regarding the renewal of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UCLG ASPAC and Ministry of Home Affairs of Indonesia on 9 July 2020 and the plan to relocate the Secretariat office to a larger space, still within the current premises of Jakarta Capital City Government as the Host of the Secretariat.Co-President representing the Pacific, Mr. Dave Cull, former President of LGNZ, proposed that the newly elected President of LGNZ, Mr. Stuart Crosby would be his successor and be appointed as the ad interim of Co-President of UCLG ASPAC. The meeting accepted his proposal. Votes of appreciation to Mr. Dave Cull for his dedication and commitment during his term as Co-President were given by Mayor Iriga, current treasurer of UCLG World, President and Secretary General of UCLG ASPAC.
- Committee Meetings
There were also Committee Meetings held preceding the forum and Executive Bureau from 20 to 21 August 2020, including the Culture Committee, Standing Committee of Women in Local Governments, South East Asia Standing Committee, South and South West Standing Committee, Belt and Road Local Cooperation Committee, and 21st Century Maritime Cooperation Committee. Inputs noted throughout the discussion include suggestion to incorporate the five major themes of Culture Committee into Manifesto.