The day 3 of Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific 2015 Congress brought forth many remarkable events – new signatories for the Durban Adaptation Charter, declaration of the Bangkok Call for Action, announcement of the next Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific to be held in Melaka, Malaysia, discussion of the key milestones and events for the urban resilience agenda and last but not the least, more than 300 people from around 30 countries coming together to celebrate the beginning of a universal resilient action in the Asia-Pacific region.
The day also gave interesting insights into the various aspects of financing urban resilience – new modalities, mechanisms and sources of financing. Peter King from USAID Adapt Asia-Pacific put it correctly when he said, “There is no shortage of money, there is a shortage of financial engineering”, thus stressing on the need to understand how the adaptation finance mechanism works. The need to ease access to low and middle income urban residents to the appropriate instruments to finance their adaptation projects was also highlighted, because often the low income groups are left out of the entire discussion and are not aware of steps that could be taken to finance their adaptation projects. Access to information is indeed crucial as was also reaffirmed by Red Constantino, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, when he said,”It is not just about giving privilege to the poor, making them participate is what really counts.”
“Think about the best pie you’ve ever had, and you are sure that nothing whatsoever could have made it better. How about if you had the recipe and were a part of making that pie? Wouldn’t it be better if you could share the recipe with others and if you could make it over and over again?”, continued Constantino, comparing resilience financing mechanisms with a pie. It is indeed advantageous to make the local people a part of the planning and implementation so they can be aware of what agencies to approach for financing their adaptation projects, how to conduct pre-feasibility studies and how to prioritize their adaptation projects.
There were few topics that remained at the apex of the myriad discussions held – protection and involvement of the low income urban groups into resilient building actions, uplifting women and including them in all planning and implementation processes and integrating resilience building into the city planning. Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific was a perfect example of people coming together from all across the globe to work towards a common cause. A city can achieve anything if it has the support of the local city officials and participation from its people. As Mayor Stephany Tan, Mayor of Catbalogan city, Philippines, put it, “Even after the natural calamities that our city faced, our homes were shattered but not our hearts and not our will.”
The need of the hour is to join hands with our neighbors, our city officials, with each other, to walk together towards building resilience in our cities, our regions and our planet at large. UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon’s statement sums up the conversations and discussions held at Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific Congress – “There is no plan B, because we do not have a planet B!”
We met, we shared, we collaborated, we empathised, we helped – all at Resilient Cities Asia-Pacific 2015 Congress.