Suwon Convention Center
Asia-Pacific Urban Forum
For the last three decades the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has convened the region’s preeminent multi-stakeholder forum on sustainable urban development, the Asia-Pacific Urban Forum (APUF).
The ‘urban age’ in Asia and the Pacific has witnessed unprecedented growth, economic development and technological advancements leading to the transformation of cities and significant shifts in the social, economic, political and environmental landscape across the region. Growing inequality across cities has become a concerning issue, with the rising cost of living, limited job opportunities and lack of affordable housing exacerbating inequality, leading to unequal access to opportunities, increasing vulnerability and social exclusion. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated entrenched vulnerabilities, both at the city scale and within cities and urban households, resulting in increased urban inequalities. This has put to the test the principle of leaving no one and no place behind, which underpins the Sustainable Development Goals. As a result, cities in Asia and the Pacific are grappling with the need to balance economic growth with sustainability, inclusivity and resilience.
The simultaneous occurrence and interplay of COVID-19 with other crises pose significant challenges to urban policymakers, leaders and communities, particularly in Asia and the Pacific, a region historically prone to disaster risks and already facing severe threats from the impacts of the climate crisis. The real-time convergence of health, climate, societal and geopolitical disruptions underscore the urgent need for multidimensional urban resilience and highlights the compounding effects of multiple system pressures on the most isolated, disadvantaged and marginalized populations.
Cities in Asia and the Pacific represented a wide spectrum of global urbanization trajectories and typologies. However, over the next 15 years of the Sustainable Development Goals, Asia and the Pacific are projected to account for nearly 60 percent of the world's urban growth, adding 0.7 billion people to the region's cities and towns, with a similar increase projected by the middle of this century. As stated by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, "cities are where the climate battle will largely be won or lost," and "cities are central to virtually every challenge we face – and essential to building a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient future." Therefore, it is in Asia and the Pacific that solutions to these concurrent and interconnected global crises must be forged, implemented and scaled.
Held every four to five years, the Forum is the largest regional gathering of urban stakeholders, engaging policymakers from local and national governments, financial institutions, civil society, the academia, the urban training-research community and private sector to discuss innovative solutions, identify common actions and objectives and strengthen effective partnerships to achieve sustainable urban development.
The seventh Asia-Pacific Urban Forum was held in October 2019 in Penang, Malaysia, and brought together more than 5,000 participants from across the region and world to focus on the acceleration and implementation of SDG 11.
30 years of Asia Pacific Urban Forums (1993-2023)
19931st APUFBangkok (Outcome: Declaration)
19952nd APUFBangkok (Outcome: Bangkok Declaration)
20003rd APUFHangzhou (Outcome: Hangzhou Declaration)
20054th APUFHanoi (Outcome: Hanoi Declaration)
20115th APUFBangkok (Outcome: 2011 State of AP Cities Report and Bangkok Declaration)
20156th APUFJakarta (Outcome: 2015 State of AP Cities Report and Jakarta Declaration for Habitat III process)
20197th APUFPenang (Outcome: Future Cities Report, PPSU, Mayors Academy)
20238th APUFSuwon (Outcome: Suwon Ministrerial Statement, Crisis Resillent Urban Futures for Asia-Pacific)
For more information, visit www.unescap.org/our-work/environment-development/cities-for-a-sustainable-future.