The First Session of the 2024 UCLG ASPAC Executive Bureau: “Enhancing Sustainable Tourism and Creative Economy through  Asia-Pacific Collaboration”

June 5-7, 2024 | UCLG ASPAC successfully convened the First Session of the 2024 UCLG ASPAC Executive Bureau from June 5 to 7, 2024 in Likupang, North Minahasa Regency. Despite the rescheduling of the meeting due to the eruption of Mt. Ruang in April, the event managed to attract the attendance of more than 200 mayors and officials from cities and local governments, associations, relevant ministries, organisations, and academicians, representing more than 25 local governments and institutions across 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific region discussing the theme “Enhancing Sustainable Tourism and Creative Economy through Asia-Pacific Collaboration.” The event was generously hosted by the North Minahasa Regency, which concurrently hosted the 2024 Likupang Tourism Festival, an annual flagship event of the regency drawing more than one thousand attendees.

Throughout the three-day event, various activities, insightful discussions and knowledge exchange were carefully designed for participants.

Day 1 | Committee Meetings, Inauguration of the Cultivating Healthy and Green Schools Project, and Opening of the Likupang Tourism Festival  

UCLG ASPAC Committees, including the Tourism Committee, Belt and Road Local Cooperation Committee, 21st Century Maritime Cooperation Committee, Standing Committee of Women in Local Governments, and Financial Management Committee, held coordination meetings. Additionally, a joint event of UCLG ASPAC – Guangzhou – Federation Canadian Municipalities on “Promoting Knowledge Exchange, Sharing, and Learning for Gender Equality and Active Participation of Women in Decision-Making Roles within Local Governance” attracted the participants to share and learn the exemplary practices and initiatives from members, such as Jambi City, Dagupan City, National League of Local Councils (NLC), and National Association of Rural Municipalities (NARMIN), to be offered as references for other members towards achieving gender equality and empowering women in decision-making roles within local governance in the Asia Pacific region.

Participants also attended various activities, including the inaugural ceremony of the “Cultivating Healthy and Green Schools” UCLG ASPAC – Guangzhou Project in North Minahasa Regency, while others visited the Likupang Solar Panel site, showcasing advancements in renewable energy. Afterwards, participants attended the grand opening of the 2024 Likupang Tourism Festival. Participants engaged in a diverse array of activities and competitions, adding vibrancy and cultural richness to the event.

Day 2 | Business Sessions, Parallel Events, Business Matchmaking, and Exposure to the Beauty of North Minahasa  

The commencement of the First Session of the 2024 UCLG ASPAC Executive Bureau was graced by an insightful opening remark from the UCLG ASPAC President, Governor Dakila Carlo Cua. “We have a unique opportunity to enhance sustainable tourism and the creative economy across Asia and the Pacific. This can be achieved by imagining vibrant cultural districts with local artists and artisans. Responsible tourism practices that preserve nature while benefiting communities can be facilitated by local government units.” As the host and in representing the people of the North Minahasa Regency, Regent Mayor Joune J. E. Ganda warmly welcomed all participants and highlighted his remarks on the alignment of the event’s theme with North Minahasa’s goals of showcasing its natural beauty, cultural heritage, and innovative spirit. The Regent emphasised the importance of collaboration to develop sustainable tourism and creative industries that drive community prosperity. A signing ceremony between the UCLG ASPAC Secretariat, the Xi’an Municipal People’s Government, and the Guangzhou Municipal People’s Government concluded the opening session.

Before the first mandatory meeting in 2024, the Executive Bureau members engaged and got involved in a main forum that delved into the theme of the event by presenting exemplary practices, experiences, expertise, and insights from ASPAC local leaders, professionals, and academicians, including Mayor Belen T. Fernadez of Dagupan City, Deputy Mayor Ismadi bin Sakirin of Kuala Lumpur City Hall, Deputy Mayor Shin Dong-Bo of Andong City, and Mr. Soon-Hwa Wong, Chair of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Singapore Chapter. The discussions were insightful, covering various topics, from city governance to sustainable tourism and logistics.

The ExBu members at its meeting acknowledged and approved, among others:

  1. Approval of 13 New Members, mainly from Indonesia, Nepal and China  
  2. Adoption of the Update of Upcoming Statutory Meetings
    • The Second Session of the 2024 Executive Bureau and the 2024 Council will be held on 21-25 October 2024, in Zhengzhou, China.
    • The 10th UCLG ASPAC Congress will be held from 24 to 26 September 2025 in Goyang Special City, South Korea. The theme of the Congress is Sustainable Global Self-sufficient Cities and Regions for the Future.
  3.    Fostering Cooperation with Strategic Partner and Members
    • The UCLG ASPAC Secretariat has renewed its Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Guangzhou Municipal People’s Government, and Xi’an Municipal People’s Government.

As parallel activities in conjunction with the ExBu meeting, two side events on Creative Blue and Green Economy in Asia and the Pacific and Rural-Urban Revitalisation Linkages in Tourism brought experiences, local practices, and insights from UCLG ASPAC members, partners, and networks including Changsha, Jakarta, Jambi, New Taipei, Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), Yiwu, Lembaga Ketahanan Nasional (Lemhannas) the Republic of Indonesia, Technology University of North Sulawesi, and Coral Triangle Initiative Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF). As the last side event, business matchmaking managed to bring three companies together, by presenting their products/services, facilitating networking, and providing business opportunities among the attendees. The second day of the event ended with a gala dinner set outdoors to expose the beauty and splendour of North Minahasa’s fullness, the richness of North Minahasa’s luscious fresh marine foods, and the vibrant cultural performance.

Day 3 | Exploring North Minahasa, the Inauguration of the UCLG ASPAC Maritime Logistics Hub, and the North Minahasa Declaration  

To offer a hands-on experience and memorable event, participants explored North Minahasa on their last day by visiting Sarawet Eco-Tourism, Palaes Eco-Tourism, and Lihaga Island. While enjoying nature, participants planted mangroves to support sustainable eco-tourism in North Minahasa.

To address evolving logistics and supply chain challenges and opportunities across the Asia-Pacific region, UCLG ASPAC and Yiwu Municipal People’s Government, as the lead city of the UCLG ASPAC Committee, established the UCLG ASPAC Maritime Logistics Hub, which is hosted by the North Minahasa Regency. The Logistics Hub was inaugurated in the presence of Regent Mayor Ganda and Secretary General Dr. Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi. Following the Logistics Hub inauguration, a closing ceremony concluded the First Session of the 2024 UCLG ASPAC Executive Bureau and resulted in the North Minahasa Declaration, read by Secretary General Dr. Bernadia and witnessed by H.E. Sandiaga Uno, Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy of the Republic of Indonesia.

To view the North Minahasa Declaration, please click here.