Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, cities in the Asia-Pacific region remain adamant in aiming for urban excellence.
The Kuala Lumpur Regional Training Centre (KLRTC) XXXVI was recently hosting an online session titled “Nurturing Human Assets for Urban Excellence,” on 27th May 2021. This session was jointly organized with key representatives from Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur and UCLG ASPAC. It is aimed to share and exchange ideas as well as best practices on urban management and urban leadership with inter-cities perspectives from Seoul, Makati City, and Local Government of New Zealand.
Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) highlighted the importance of empowering human assets for making the ideal urban managers in setting the tone of engagement among stakeholders, communities, and private sectors.
The principles of good governance, transparency, enabling environment, and partnership are the foundation of urban planning and cities management. And it is supposed to be led by ideal managers, of whom are equipped with the right support system, and further backed up with both of necessary knowledge and skills to be applied in real life scenarios.
Urban leaders with the right capacity will also help cities to achieve global agendas, such as a carbon neutral city by 2050. Datuk Mahadi Che Ngah as mayor of Kuala Lumpur addressed that the quest for future urban managers is a journey instead of a destination as he particularly said, “There is no perfect formula or cure for all urban issues.” In addressing this conviction, he ended the session with the strong willingness for future collaborations with other cities externally, “You must take the first step and catalyse that change.”
Furthermore, in connection with the right urban leaders as the ideal managers of cities, the Secretary General of UCLG ASPAC, Dr. Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi, put emphasis on the human approach in urban planning, regardless of which direction to lead cities—a world-class city, green city, smart city, inclusive city, or another idealized city to achieve.
As the urban population keeps growing, an increasing need of urban infrastructure implies more pressure to address important development issues that are faced differently for Asia-Pacific cities. This may include, waste management, public space and such, in which invites more concern over sustainable urban management.
Prof. Joon Park, the Associate Professor of International School of Urban Sciences, University of Seoul giving an example, a smart city in Seoul, requires the four pillars of ICT-based urban solution, better governance, sustainability, and decent urbanisation, which implies that urban leaders have to keep up with.
In addition to that, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to bring implications in various ways of living. This urges people, including urban dwellers in Makati City, Philippines to continuously adapt and adjust their lives on a daily basis. Following this crisis, the Mayor of Makati City, Abigail Binay, successfully turned this situation into a case study for other cities to learn from.
For example, the companionship of jeepney drivers around the Makati city eventually altered in terms of their functionality after having lost their income, as she explained. Regaining dignity and self-worth of these jeepney drivers, the government of Makati City made use of these public utility services for teaching assistance and digital learning via internet access using laptops.
In contrast to the other two cities, a representative from the Local Government of New Zealand (LGNZ) differed in opinion during the online session. The Principal Policy Advisor of LGNZ, Dr. Mike Reid, focuses in separating the political role of government and the administrative role of the management. As a result, the shift from new public management to new public governance is likely to be in favour of more participation involving the citizens to help identify their needs and give solution to their needs.
In the spirit of inclusiveness by bringing together marginal communities, the prominence of contracts and competition no longer serve the ideal urban management. This call for trust to nurture urban leaders, and city administrators in more holistic ways as well as in the big context of urban governance.
By KM Team