Tuesday, September 29, 2015


   Jakarta, Sept 29, 2015 (Antara)-  Some 177 representatives of Asian-Pacific cities, international organizations, and local governments and associations attended the Asia-Pacific Conference on "Local Government Voices towards Habitat III on a New Urban Agenda" in Wakatobi, Sulawesi, on Sept. 5-7.
        The conference was organized in Southeast Sulawesi in preparation for an international Habitat III conference themed "Housing and Sustainable Urban Development" to be held by the United Nations in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016.
        "This conference addresses the urban issues we may face in the future. One of the major agendas of the United Nations is Habitat or New Urban Habitat," Secretary General of the United Cities and Local Government (UCLG) Asia-Pacific Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi stated in early September.

        The UCLG Asia-Pacific Conference in Wakatobi also determined the urban development agenda for the next two decades.
        Development is supposed to be based on humanity, Bernadia stated. She pointed out, however, that there are several dormant urban development agendas as a result of the local administration's inability to adopt a firm approach and the roles of the private sector.
        In a press conference held before the Wakatobi conference, Jordan Pascual, a committee member of UCLG World's Committee on Culture from Barcelona, explained that UCLG ASPAC's existence is very significant.
          UCLG ASPAC covers the world's most culturally diverse and most populated region, and promotes the `united voice' of the Region to the world through significant events such as the Wakatobi Conference.
        The regional grouping has contributed to the world, Pascual explained, adding that advocacy and capacity building have been some of the strengths and best practices that UCLG World and UCLG ASPAC has achieved and continues to perform.
         At the end of the conference, the participants issued a Wakatobi Declaration, which will be submitted during high-level meetings, including the 6th Asia-Pacific Urban Forum to be organized by the United Nations and the Indonesian government in Jakarta in October 2015.
        Wakatobi District Head Hugua stated that the Wakatobi Declaration is a "united voice" of the local governments in the Asia-Pacific region and the Indonesian authority to be delivered during the Habitat III assembly in Ecuador.
       The presence of the United Cities and Local Governments Asia-Pacific (UCLG ASPAC) as a "united voice" of the local governments in the Asia-Pacific Region is very significant to promote the interests of the local governments in shaping a new urban agenda.
       In the declaration, the participants recognized that the city, local, and regional governments play a central role in shaping a new urban agenda, which is the focus of the Second World Assembly of Local and Regional Authorities to be held in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016.
        They lauded the roles played by the city and local governments as the actors of development within the new post-2015 development agenda and specially their importance to ensure the localization of the new Sustainable Development Goals.
         Learning from the experiences shared in Wakatobi from diverse local governments in the Asia-Pacific region, they expressed a strong belief that transforming cities from places where pollution, poverty, and unemployment prevail into livable and sustainable places with opportunities for all, is possible.
        They also emphasized the need for the promotion of harmonizing nature, ecology, and development, particularly in urban areas. 
     Local government leaders also pledged to work together towards the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal number 11, ¿Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable¿ as well as supporting the local implementation of the new global development agenda post 2015, recently adopted by the United Nations General Agenda.
           "In conclusion, we only have one Mother Earth to protect, preserve, and love for the people to have tranquility, harmony and rhythm; we should be one and be together, as together, we can make this a better world for all of us, for our children, and the next generation," they stated in the declaration. 
  On the sidelines of the Wakatobi conference, on Sept 5,  two memorandums of understanding on sister city cooperation were signed by Wakatobi District Head Hugua respectively with Jeju Province of South Korea, and with Haikou of China.
       Governor of Jeju Wong Hee-ryong, who is concurrently the president of the UCGLA-ASPAC, lauded the hospitality of Southeast Sulawesi's Wakatobi community in welcoming and serving the participants.
        "All my life, this is the time for me to see and experience the hospitality shown by the locals while serving and treating the guests," he stated.
        Hee-ryong also praised the cleanliness of Wakatobi's coastal and marine waters.  The clear sea waters, the white sand, and the deep blue sea would be a tremendous attraction for the tourists, he remarked.
        "I will tell the Koreans, especially the people of Jeju, that Wakatobi is an exciting vacation spot," Hee-ryong added.
        In the meantime, on Sept 7,  the delegates were brought to a study tour to see the locations where Wakatobi is operating its low carbon society projects in cooperation with UCLG ASPAC.
        The tour was followed by a trip to Hoga Island, Wakatobi National Park, where at the same time delegates had the chance to see the underwater beauty of Wakatobi by diving or snorkeling.
        Hugua expressed his hope that by hosting the UCLG-ASPAC meeting, Wakatobi could become more well-known throughout the world, since the participants of the meeting consisted of mayors and district heads from Asia Pacific countries. ***4***

(T.F001/A/BESSR/O. Tamindael) 29-09-2015 14:35:51

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