Opening remarks by Bambang Susantono, ADB Vice President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, at the Creating Livable Asian Cities Virtual Book Launch, 29 April 2021
Colleagues, distinguished guests, ladies, and gentlemen:
Thank you for joining us today for the launch of ADB’s new publication―Creating Livable Asian Cities. One important element of our ongoing work is to help cities in Asia and the Pacific become more livable.
Let me take this opportunity to convey my gratitude to the many experts―both within and outside ADB―who made this book possible. And I want to thank all our stakeholders. This book is really for you who have dedicated your lives to making your cities more livable.
Urbanization in Asia and the Pacific
One of the megatrends that will define the future of development in Asia is urbanization. Asian cities are hubs of economic and social opportunity for people and business. And they are booming. However, this growing urbanization does not neatly translate into increased opportunities for their residential populations.
As the populations expand, the urgency to address critical developmental issues becomes greater. These issues include inadequate spatial and economic planning; urban infrastructure deficits; significant air and water pollution; the growing impact of climate change; and the lack of affordable housing. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored just how unequal urban services have become, negatively affecting the access by the poor and vulnerable.
About the book and five key priorities
This book delves into these multiple challenges facing Asian cities, and by so doing, tackles the fundamental question—how do we make our cities more livable? The cross-cutting theme that has emerged from these chapters is the importance of sharing knowledge solutions on innovation; promoting technological and digital enhancements; and applying good practices in urban governance.
The book highlights five key priorities:
i. smart and inclusive planning
ii. sustainable energy
iii. sustainable transport
iv. innovative finance, and
v. resilience and rejuvenation
These five priorities and their key features will be discussed by my colleagues later, followed by a panel discussion to help us understand how working together can help our cities fulfill their potential.
Building back better from the pandemic
This book carries greater meaning as it was conceived, prepared, and launched in the middle of a pandemic. It seeks out better ways to respond to urban solutions―and from a different perspective.
We all know that every crisis provides an opportunity―an opportunity to make bold choices that help us leapfrog toward a more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable path. I hope our policymakers, urban leaders and stakeholders will grasp the urban solutions and insights discussed in this publication to build back better.
In closing, let me reiterate ADB’s commitment to support the creation of more livable Asian cities. There is no one-size-fits-all approach―for each city evolves within its own unique local context. We must always adopt a tailored approach to build innovative, evidence-based, and integrated solutions.
Working together, we can create cities that are green, inclusive, resilient and sustainable―in short, more livable.