Inaugural UrbanShift Forum (Asia) Aims to Propel Sustainable Urban Development

High-level gathering focuses on aligning cities with global climate goals

The inaugural UrbanShift Forum (Asia) commenced today at the Hyatt Regency in New Delhi, graced by the presence of Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Government of India.

The event, co-organized by ICLEI South Asia and the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), brought together prominent dignitaries, government officials, and experts in the field of sustainable urban development.

During his address at the special inaugural session, Hardeep Singh Puri emphasized the significance of the UrbanShift program, which seeks to restore harmony between nature and urban environments. He noted that this initiative aligns with two pivotal global agendas, SDG 2030 and the Paris Agreement.

The inaugural session witnessed the presence of distinguished figures, including representatives from the Government of India, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and various other organizations and institutions.

Notably, approximately 150 delegates, comprising national government representatives and city officials from countries including India, Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Jordan, and Sri Lanka, along with international organizations, financial institutions, businesses, and NGOs, are attending this event.

Their collective goal is to exchange knowledge and experiences, focusing on regional urban challenges and solutions in areas such as advocacy and climate action, knowledge sharing and capacity building, and finance and private sector engagement.

The core objective of the UrbanShift Asia Forum is to provide training and capacity-building for regional cities, empowering them to achieve integrated and sustainable urban development.

During the opening plenary session, high-level panel discussions delved into pressing urban issues in the Asian region. Participants explored strategies to overcome obstacles and transform Asian cities into ‘cities of opportunity.’ Several regional leaders shared their visionary policy directions, emphasizing enhanced ambition and accelerated climate action in Asian cities.

Distinguished speakers on the first day of the UrbanShift Forum included Atul Bagai, Country Head, United Nations Environment Programme India Office; Madhav Pai, Chief Executive Officer, World Resources Institute; Aloke Barnwal, Senior Climate Change Specialist and Coordinator – Sustainable Cities, Global Environment Facility (GEF); Hitesh Vaidya, Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) India; Emani Kumar, Deputy Secretary General, ICLEI, and Executive Director, ICLEI South Asia; and Andrea Fernandez, Managing Director of Climate Finance, Knowledge and Partnerships, C40 Cities.

In his opening remarks, Emani Kumar, Deputy Secretary General, ICLEI, and Executive Director, ICLEI South Asia, underscored the global imperative to transition from fossil fuels to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy and lifestyle. He emphasized that bold, transformative, and inclusive strategies are required to build sustainable cities, and UrbanShift is pivotal in this endeavor.

Throughout the forum, parallel sessions will provide a platform for participants to exchange insights on addressing challenges, showcasing successful practices, and exploring scalable strategies.

Additionally, avenues for support from the UrbanShift project, including knowledge and capacity building, as well as financial and private sector engagement opportunities, will be explored. The experiences from GEF-funded Sustainable Cities Projects will be shared, contributing to the collective effort to drive sustainable urban development in Asia.

The UrbanShift Forum promises to be a catalyst for innovation and collaboration, fostering a brighter and more sustainable future for urban centers across the Asian continent.