ADB helps cities mainstream climate resilience

THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) has launched a new initiative to help cities across Asia and the Pacific to meet their climate resilience goals while improving their infrastructure and urban services.

In a statement on Tuesday, ADB said the Creating Investable Cities initiative unveiled at the World Cities Summit in Singapore will provide “hands-on advisory support and capacity-building resources” to 20 cities in Asia and the Pacific in the initial phase.

“The initiative will support these partner cities in mainstreaming climate resilience into their policies and projects, developing local resources mobilization strategies, and improving their access to private sector finance,” read the statement of ADB.

The regional development bank underscored that urbanization is a powerful force in Asia and the Pacific. In fact, by 2030, the region will have nearly 200 cities each with more than a million people.

ADB noted that while cities are the engines of global growth, generating 80 percent of GDP

worldwide, they also produce nearly 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and 50 percent of the waste.

With six of the top 10 vulnerable countries of the world located in Asia and the Pacific amid rapid urbanization, its urban poor are particularly vulnerable to the harsh effects of climate change.

“Cities are the front lines in the fight against climate change, especially as the world looks to recover and rebuild from the pandemic,” said ADB Vice President for Private Sector Operations and Public-Private Partnerships Ashok Lavasa.

Lavasa added that the Creating Investable Cities initiative provides practical and end-to-end advisory service to policymakers, enabling them to tap directly into ADB’s expertise and finance.

Meanwhile, ADB noted that collaborations with Makassar, Indonesia; Penang, Malaysia; Tbilisi, Georgia; and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia are underway.

Further, the regional development bank noted that each of these cities is seeking advanced solutions to help them to decarbonize their electricity grid, green their built environment, improve urban mobility including through electric vehicles, transition to a circular economy, conserve water, and enhance their urban service delivery and asset management through smart and integrated planning and investment.

For his part, Bruno Carrasco, the Director General of ADB’s Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, stressed that the cities need to intensify their efforts if they intend to attain climate resilience.

“Cities cannot continue on a business-as-usual approach if they want to meet their climate targets,” said Carrasco.

“The CIC initiative will help cities to mainstream climate into their urban policymaking by leveraging ADB’s climate, urban, and governance expertise and by mobilizing partnerships for knowledge transfer and capacity building,” added Carrasco.

Prior to the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic, ADB estimated that Asia-Pacific needs to raise almost $1.7 trillion per year to close its infrastructure gap, $200 billion of which should come from the private sector.

“Covid-19 highlights the urgency of preparing cities to leverage the private sector’s innovation, efficiency, and finance to close the huge infrastructure gap that prevents cities from reaching their economic potential,” said Head of ADB’s Office of Public-Private Partnership F. Cleo Kawawaki.

According to Kawawaki, improving cities’ local resource mobilization and financial quality are crucial in attracting private sector and climate finance for their greener, resilient futures to enhance the quality of life in the cities.

“ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region,” read the ADB statement.