Since 2013, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been implementing the project “Integrated resource management in Asian Cities: the Urban Nexus”, in partnership with the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), and with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The project supports 12 cities in seven countries in Asia with developing cross-sectoral infrastructure projects and integrating the nexus approach into urban planning and policies. Horizontal and vertical integration, coordinating and collaborating between sectors and with different government levels, is a key component of the project.
Building on the outcomes and feedback from seven regional workshops and the project’s many national dialogues, outreach events, peer-to-peer exchanges and trainings, the Eighth Regional Workshop aimed to tap innovation and broaden stakeholder engagement, particularly with the academic and private sectors, to help build the business model for urban nexus initiatives.
The 8th regional workshop is continuing to provide this exchange platform. It took place in Bangkok, Thailand, on November 14-16 2018. It focused on “Leveraging Innovation and Broadening Stakeholder Engagement to Build the Business Model for Urban Nexus Efforts.”
Roughly 100 international and local participants attended the workshop including local government officials from the Urban Nexus partner cities, national and sub-national government officials from the countries of the partner cities from relevant departments, line ministries and provincial governments, and representatives of academic organizations, private sector enterprises and other relevant stakeholders with an interest in integrated resource management.
The academe played a big part at the 8th regional workshop. The keynote speaker Dr. Vorapat Inkarojit of Chulalongkorn University emphasized the role of universities in sustainability, Chulalongkorn University’s sustainability initiatives, and producing future leaders with sustainability mind-set in his speech. Chulalongkorn University was also the location of 8RW site visit where the participants were exposed to the University’s sustainable initiatives under the “Green Chula” program.
The regional workshop hosted the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of two academic institutions: Bicol State College of Applied Sciences and Technology (BISCAST, Naga, Philippines) and King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT, Bangkok, Thailand) officially announced their student exchange and academic cooperation within the framework of the Urban Nexus program.
The Urban Nexus Projects sees the “Strategic Partnership” (SDG 17) with the academe as a “vehicle” to improve sustainability of the Nexus approach as students, teachers, trainers and professors are “natural” multipliers of innovation. Moreover, “Universities are “living labs” of innovation” as Dr. Vorapat Inkarojit from Chulalongkorn University pointed out.
Project partner cities then had the opportunity to update the ongoing Nexus initiatives through a new format: “The Market Place”. In this format, the cities’ representatives were assigned a station with their respective Nexus initiative banners – in a similar manner of market stalls. The rest of the participants were divided into groups. These groups visited the stalls one by one, moving to a different stall every 7 minutes. This format allowed the cities (seller) to present their Nexus project initiatives interactively with the participants (buyer), who then individually decided whether or not they “buy” the projects.
After the Market Place session, the focus was on Building Business models for those or future Nexus initiatives. Building the Business Model session had three sub-sessions which were:
- Leveraging Innovation
The Leveraging Innovation sub-session discussed various innovations relevant to the Nexus approach and perhaps could be taken up by partner cities or organization to further research or apply as possible solutions to their urban development context. The innovations discussed were Geothermal Energy, Nature Based Solutions, and Green Buildings.
- Broadening Stakeholder Engagement
The Broadening Stakeholder Engagement sub-session hosted a diverse panel that discussed lessons learned and recommendations for increasing involvement of non-traditional partners to advance integrated approaches.
- Developing Sustainable Financing Solutions
The last sub-session of Developing Sustainable Financing Solutions discussed various sources of local government financing to support cross-sectoral infrastructure. Mechanisms including local taxes, tariffs, transfers and grants from higher level of government, PPPs, grants from international organizations were covered.
The last session of the 8th regional workshop linked Urban Nexus Initiatives to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The session addressed local and national level experiences with measuring and monitoring progress towards achieving of SDGs and panellists shared some best practices to support continued progress.
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