Geneva, October 2018 – Policymakers and urban experts from North and Central Asia have met in Geneva to discuss the Future of Asia and Pacific Cities 2019 Report and exchange experiences on managing challenges to sustainable urbanization that are unique to the region. Countries in the sub-region which were participating for the first time in consultations on the Asia and Pacific report series shared best practices on sustainable urbanization. The meeting which was jointly convened by UN-Habitat, UNESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) and UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) highlighted polarization resulting from increasing concentration of opportunities within larger cities in the sub-region.

Participants reviewed progress towards implementation of the New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by cities in North and Central Asia. The meeting sought ways to enhance the capacity of cities in urban management, good governance, financial management, data collection and technological adaptation through innovative and practical approaches to sustainable city planning. Broader consultations will also foster ownership of the report by all stakeholders and encourage participants to champion its recommendations.

The Director and co-founder of Urban Forum Kazakhstan Ms. Assel Yeszhanova noted that given the background of decentralization in Kazakhstan there is pressing need for dialogue between multiple urban stakeholders. Broader and deeper stakeholder participation and inclusiveness at all governance and geographic levels is required for small and medium-sized cities to develop in tandem with large cities.

UN-Habitat Project Coordinator for Countries of the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) Ms. Åsa Jonsson emphasized the importance of creating stronger knowledge partnerships on sustainable urban policy options between urban experts and universities and between cities in the region, a priority area of support for UN-Habitat. The well-educated population in sub-region is an asset that should be fully utilized.

Stronger peer support between cities, strengthened participatory mechanisms and engaging planning professionals in the region in responding to the challenges of urbanization were identified as priority action areas.