Creating a Human City: Review of the Suwon Forum 2018

For the past 3 years, CityNet and Suwon City have collaborated to organize the Suwon Forum which is an annual event centered on the creation of an “Asia Human City” and was made to facilitate the sharing of best practices and strategies needed to create a better living environment for the population. This year’s theme was titled “Human Cities for All” and featured topics such as Urban Regeneration, Housing Welfare, Urban Resilience, and Civic Democracy.

This year, on September 17th-18th, I had the opportunity to work as a staff member for the 2018 Suwon Forum. Before attending the event, I had little knowledge to what the concept of a Human City meant, but I discovered that there are varying meanings behind a seemingly simple term.

Within the overall theme, three sessions with sub-themes took place in order to provide insight into the various factors that are needed to create a Human City:

  1. A City Where Everyone is Happy
  2. A City Where People are Always Safe
  3. A City Where Anything is Possible

Speakers and participants weighed in on the numerous aspects behind a Human City and what contributes to its creation. A main element that was highlighted was the need for public participation. For instance, Oswar Mungkasa, the Deputy Governor of Jakarta, shared this when giving his idea of a Human City; a place in which the government and citizens work in collaboration and co-create the city, and one where the population can have a role in developing city policies and implementing them.


Another aspect that was frequently noted for a Human City was the importance of environmental sustainability through the incorporation of various ecological elements such as greater walkability, the creation of public spaces, and efficient and affordable public transportation through the use of BRT systems. For Taoyuan, Jiunn-Ming Chiou, the Deputy Secretary General of the city, expressed how one of the ways that they are working to achieve a human-oriented city is by improving the air quality and implementing more low carbon practices. One of their initiatives is the use of energy efficient infrastructure and housing, as 86 buildings of the city having attained GREE certification.

As the forum progressed, it became increasingly evident that a Human City was a multifaceted concept with many cities now developing an array of policies to implement in order to achieve this. However, the term itself started in Suwon.

A couple of years ago, the Mayor of Suwon, Tae Young Yeom, gave Suwon this concept of being a Human City. At this year’s Suwon Forum, he expressed the vision for the city; one that welcomes and values people, and is a place in which citizens have a role and opportunity to actively participate. During the forum, much was mentioned about the former king of Suwon who lead many initiatives for his citizens and constructed the Suwon fortress which is now a proud emblem for the history of the city.

On the second day, after the closing ceremony of the event, participants were taken on a site visit to the Hwaseong Fortress mentioned during the event, along with the Haenggung-dong Mural Village and the Hanok Technology Exhibition Hall in order for the forum’s participants to learn more about Suwon’s history and traditional heritage. With a walk through the city, one can see how deeply connected the city is to its culture and citizens. The well-maintained 222 year old fortress, the preservation of the traditional Hanok architectural style, and even small historical representations of past citizens painted along the pathways depict the value that Suwon has for its people, history, and culture.

During the site visits, I noticed that the collaboration from the people of Suwon can be seen throughout the city. In the Haenggung-dong Mural Village, the city is able to represent the people of the past through art representations made by the citizens of the present day. The art in the village also helps represents elements of a Human City as, during the tour, the guide noted how the artists and owners of the houses in the village collaborated on the design for the murals. One of them was even created by the community as the artist had laid out art supplies in front of the wall and allowed citizens to join in the process of creating the mural for the city.

The words “Human City Suwon—사람이 반갑습니다 (people welcome)” were even written in various places throughout the city.

Although having a Human City is a new concept, the practices shared by all in attendance at the Suwon Forum will help spread this idea across Asia, and I’m certain that the Suwon Forum will further this initiative for many years to come.

Serena_bio_imgSerena Spurgeon
Serena Spurgeon received a Bachelor’s degree in Foreign Languages and International Studies at the University of North Alabama, and is currently pursuing a Specialization Master’s degree in International Relations at the Univeristà Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, Italy. She was a co-author in political research conferenced at the Midwest Political Science Organization in 2018. Her areas of interest include environmental sustainability, SDGs, human development, and peace and conflict studies.


Pursuit of Green City

The biggest global trend we have witnessed for the last 10 years is without a doubt, the issue of the climate change and the urbanization. ‘Going Green’ or ‘Sustainable-’ has been the most talked about thing for the last couple of years and attentions requested to save the world is now important than never before. With the rapid population growth in developing countries and 4th industrialization in developed countries, the world is facing another level of the new threat in the history of humankind. According to the Brundtland report in 1987, the term ‘sustainability’ means environment, economic and social development that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In the philosophy and the social consideration, ‘sustainability’ focuses more on the issue of conservation and improvement of the environment. There has been a concern about preserving nature throughout the human history, but the real concern regarding the modern environmental movement began during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. Now, it is with the paradigm changes of the new technology.

Beginning from that period to today, for less than 200 years humans have harmed the environment with the enormous amount of pollution more than ever (UNFCCC,2017). The development of industry and technology may have borough conveniences to a life of the human, but on the other hand, brought the human conquer of nature. There has been a wide spread of environmental movement during the last century, including from may other international organization such as ICLEI, GCF, GGGI and of course the CityNet. Although a tremendous amount of money and supports have been discussed among them, the speaking of the danger of global warming all around the world need even greater cooperations and cares to meet the decent level of sustainability (GCF,2017). There also are thousands of small individuals organizations regionally doing the small things to save our planet, like Oxfam, CARE, World Vision, and many other NGOs. For the better result, each country and other international organizations’ strong build of ownership and capacity building cannot be left out separately and need to foster a strong engagement with the compliment. Therefore, first and foremost the role of the CityNet, as a connect actor and the arbitrator of the regional governments, make a great contribution to the world’s sustainable and resilient cities.

In general terms, environmentalists advocate the sustainable management of resources, and the protection of the natural environment through changes in the public policy and individual behaviors. Normally, this movement is regarded more a liberal approach, looking toward legislative government intervention to prevent the destruction of the environment. However, through the years, there has also been a conservative movement toward environment called ‘Free Market Environmentalism.’ Free Market Environmentalism is a theory that argues that the free market, property rights, and tort law provided the best tools to preserve the health and substantiality of the environment (Anderson,1991). Ironically, most of this activities are held in the place of the life of the human, as we all know without saying, the city. Henceforth the appearance of the city with the catastrophe of nature and the greed of human, the pace of the urbanization increase immensely. The only human has the key to solve this issue.

The problem of urbanization and the right to live in the clean environment are not anymore for a hardcore environmentalist issue. People who live in developing and developed countries both consider preventing more damages to nature. It is true that we cannot talk environment concerns without talking the money. These days it costs more to be a real environmentalist. If then, how should we make our world more green and sustainable when pursuing the life of environmentalism sounds the only privilege for the people who have the resources and abilities? Some may argue that making environmental behavior or giving an immediate aid will raise aid dependency and diminish self-reliance of the recipient. Often, it is radically described this action as a pouring water into a broken jug. Sometimes things are not so tangible at the right moment, but I trust the effort which has been put together will create a result for something in the end as a person who currently works in the international cooperation field. Indirect and direct response to each city can make a change and global response to the environmental disaster and long-term urban challenges.

Although it is minor individual activities, I do consider myself an environmental person and I do believe the current environmental issue is a big thing and more people need to get involved and practiced in the eco-friendly life. I do not see it as a conflict or a political battle between different ideas. Although the development of industries and advanced of technologies might have borough harm to nature, in a different perspective it has brought more of good as well. For instance, the rivers and lakes are now much more clean by the technology than it was 100 years ago. It is not a fight, it is our friend we are dealing with and the biggest friend to human is out nature. I think the death of Earth, and all the pessimistic analogy regarding the planet’s future is too overblown. I see the positive attributions that people are making to the environment, and with that change of smaller things by more and more people, I see our environment becoming healthier in the futures.


Anderson, Terry Lee. 1946. “Free market environmentalism” Westview Press, 1991.


By Rose Y. Shim

Rose Y. Shim received Political Science Bachelor’s at UC Berkeley and currently studying Urban Planning at Seoul National University, Graduate School of Environmental Studies. Her interest area is sustainable development and international cooperation in developing countries. Rose has work experience as a researcher with the start of her master’s program, and was mainly in charge of city’s rejuvination and the unification of Korea.


Congress Over But What’s Next?

The CityNet Congress 2017 was successfully over. With participation of over 300 guests of honor from around the world, the Congress hosted in Colombo, Sri Lanka from Nov. 5th to 8th also marked the 30th anniversary of CityNet.

It was truly amazing to see how participants from different parts of Asia Pacific were engaged in discussions and networking through different sessions. They not only shared their ideas on sustainable urban development goals (SDGs) but also their deepest concerns: how do they replicate the best practices of other cities, which are so different from their own in size, population, culture, living style, social expectations, political structure, level of economic development, to name just a few?




As a platform dedicated to city-to-city cooperation, whether from North to South, South to South, or North to North, CityNet strives to improve the lives of communities in the Asia Pacific region and worldwide. The complicated and multilayered nature of the region, with some of the richest, poorest, and also highly developing cities in between, however, pose gargantuan urbanization challenges. Through the networking of CityNet, the cities can better identify their situations, obstacles, and disadvantages, and thus come up with solutions.

To help the cities do so, CityNet has mapped out a series of activities for the upcoming year of 2018. These can include capacity building programs, projects and other initiatives, partner development, etc.

Take the capacity building programs for instance. CityNet and its partners are going to provide an extensive number of workshops to help enhance the cities’ urban development capacities. These include Mayors Forum, Financing of Urban Energy Infrastructure and Urban Lighting, Water Management Workshop with ARISU, Climate Change Workshop, among others.

To advocate its members’ voices on the global stage and help them reach tangible results, CityNet also plans to participate in major international conferences such as Ninth Session of the World Urban Forum, Kuala Lumpur.

CityNet will continue encouraging its member cities to be engaged in CityNet Services, National Chapters, Cluster Activities, Urban SDG Knowledge Platform and so on in the upcoming year.  As megacities in Asia are expecting further urban growth in the years to come, the success of the urban future largely depends on the Asia’s secondary cities since two-thirds of the world’s secondary cities are located in Asia and Africa.

Partnerships remain the driving force to support the intimidating tasks the cities face ahead. Through the platform of CityNet, the cities can gather to share their ideas and problems, benefit from feedback and reflection, and draft a blueprint of how to deal with urban challenges in palpable steps.

“Together we can do more, that is the theme of CityNet,” said Mary Jane C. Ortega, Special Adviser of CityNet. And together we can grow.


Photos: courtesy of CityNet


By Julia Szu-tu, CityNet Secondment Staff

Julia is a section assistant at the Department of Information and Tourism, Taipei City Government interested in international affairs and environmental protection.

How can community-based tourism provide meaningful experience to both visitors and residents?

To many developing countries, tourism is one major economic growth drivers due to their pristine beaches and natural wonders. Tourism generates jobs and improves the living standards of many residents of their local communities.

In 2016, the World Travel and Tourism Council reported that tourism sector created 68 million jobs (3.7 percent of total employment representing 2.8 percent of total GDP) in Asia Pacific region. It supported a total of over 150 million jobs, equivalent to one in every 11 jobs.

Despite its benefits, tourism has been causing detrimental effects in many places where it is mismanaged. Over the years, large-scale mass tourism, where quantity of visitors becomes the priority, has contributed to the degradation of the local environment. For example, hotels and resorts that are poorly-designed and built on a natural habitat may cause more harm than good.

Mass tourism has also increased the dependence on external market with tourism industries in developing countries and least developed countries being largely run by companies based in foreign countries. In most cases, its revenue has not been equally distributed to communities, as its big share still goes back to international and national offices of tourism operators.

To counter these negative effects, community-based tourism (CBT) offers an alternative view to mass tourism promising a more meaningful impact to both visitors’ experience and community.

By concept, Community Based Tourism (CBT) is any tourism-related activity that is community owned and managed or coordinated at the community level that focuses both on showcasing the local’s tourist areas and improving the well-being of its residents. The program can support sustainable livelihoods and protection of local people’s cultural identity.

CBT can bring about several economic, environmental, and social benefits:

  • Economic benefits

Community-based tourism encourages community’s stakeholders to co-develop and implement relevant projects. This process ensures creation of local jobs and revenue retention in the community itself. This also helps them cope with problems generated by mass tourism by easing economic dependence on external markets.

  • Environmental benefits

Community-based tourism seeks to build on its natural ecosystem. This lessens the risk of causing more danger to the local environment in the long-run.

  • Social benefits

Community-based tourism empowers local citizens bringing about a sense of ownership and cooperation to reach common goals which results to enhancing social cohesion.

Kinabatangan’s Model Ecologically Sustainable Community Tourism (MESCOT) Project in Malaysia offers a good case as to how a well-managed CBT can provide lasting impacts to both local residents and tourists. This project was initially planned to ensure stable income for the indigent villagers who had heavily relied on natural resources to support their living.

Kinabatangan town is located in Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia. It is the large area with 7,800 hectare with a population of 147,000.

The MESCOT project is run under the strict criteria set by Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture. The criteria include optimum standards for security and cleanliness and a minimum of 10 houses for each homestay cluster with three rooms per houses.

The Homestay program offers different activities for tourists which include traditional games like village boat service, building traditional fish traps and cultural dancing performance. All these programs and activities are evaluated and monitored based on service quality, activity packages, homestay management and promotion by Sabah Homestay Association.

There are four key factors which contributed to the MESCOT’s success:

  • Capacity building for the community

Hosts of the homestays undergo the required training on the homestay management. For the first four years of its operation, residents ranging from 18 to 35 years old were trained in ecotourism planning, business skills, English language, and natural and cultural resources research. This ensures all Homestay Programs have the same scheme and structure that will provide visitors with minimum standard quality of service.

  • Planning, implementation, and monitoring agencies

National government has provided full support for participating homestay houses. The Ministry of Tourism provides directions, policies and guidelines for registration and development of the program. It is also in charge of marketing and promotion. The Ministry of Rural and Regional Development provides infrastructure for rural development and training and capacity building for their communities. The Sabah Homestay Association monitors the program management, development and promotions.

  • Promotion of Green economy

MESCOT project has adopted the Green Economy strategy by creating new alternative income sources for local residents who obtained seasonal income by working in the nearby timber camps. With the project introduced, villagers no longer have to depend on natural resources which prevent them from further degrading ecosystem and causing loss of biodiversity.

  • Active involvement of the local community

The success of CBT relies on the goodwill and cooperation of residents. The villagers were involved from the initial project stage, engaging their assistance in forest fire fighting and restoration activities and training their skills in managing visitors.

After 10 years of implementation, MESCOT has created jobs for more than 128 people on a rotation system. Homestay providers earned up to RM 2,000 monthly (USD 467). This project contributes to the improvement of the city residents’ housing condition and living standards.

The case of Kinabatangan provides guiding principles for other local governments that may have yet to reach their tourism potential but must minimize the environmental cost at the same time.

Local residents must co-develop and implement their own programs that can support both their livelihood and protect their natural environment as well. It is essential that national governments can supervise other aspects of CBT management that are beyond the scope of the local governments. This includes extensive, capacity-building programs and facilitation in building consensus in many of its different community discussions. Most importantly, the key success to CBT depends on how residents can take pride and care of their home.


Community-Based Tourism in Developing Countries: A Case Study, 2011, an International Multidisciplinary Journal of Tourism (

Community Based Tourism: Group Report and Recommendations, UNWTO (

Tourism and Poverty Alleviation, 2010, WTO (

By Sion Kang

Sion Kang recently completed her dual bachelor’s programs of International Studies and European Union Studies at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS) in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Her interest lies in the field of sustainable development and macro-economic policy in developing countries. She has a work experience at an NGO in Lao PDR, and was mainly in charge of devising and implementing educational activity and fundraising program and researching capacity building and knowledge exchange.

Migrants and Cities: Recognizing the Roles of Cities to Promote Social Inclusion

Currently, there is unprecedented human mobility across the world, caused by various factors including lack of employment, motivation to pursue better education & living, security, and even environmental issues pushing migrants to flee from their home regions. Whether it is cross-border migration or rural-urban migration, cities globally has been increasingly known to be the popular destination for migrants to settle in. Whether is related to the current global phenomena of Syrian Refugees, uprising climate refugees, the mobility of women caregivers in Southeast Asia, migrant workers in Gulf region, up to day to day migration, flagging the cross-sectorial discussion between urban and city development with migration is necessary to further seek solutions in related problems. With the increasing phenomenon of human mobility, migration has brought both positive and negative consequences for the destination cities where they migrate to. However, the 2015 World Migration Report from IOM states that the issue of migration is overlooked in the discussion of urban and city development and to some extent, is often perceived negatively (IOM, 2015).

The issue of migration is inseparable with the efforts to manage migrants, particularly on the integration aspect. It is argued that migrants bring positive impacts to the hosting community by bringing new knowledge and culture, manpower resources, agent of diversity, and even essential economic and social contribution to their home community, among others. However, these contributions that migrants bring to the hosting cities and communities are again, still under-discussed. However, diverse sectors of society may not always have the sufficient conditions to keep a cohesive social inclusion into a populated city. The problems where ‘your migrant neighbors’ are sources of community problems that lead to discrimination, social conflict, differential treatment, and to some extent, social disintegration are no longer new problems globally.

Regardless of the overlooked positive contribution from migrants, cities can play a role to promote the contribution from new members to the society and to remove the negative stigma of migrants by promoting social inclusion among both incoming and hosting society. The efforts of cities in improving social cohesion and inclusion lies at the core of social policies of education, health, as well as the promotion of social mobility, all this managed under the city, provincial, and national governments.

When it comes to managing social inclusion at the community level, there are countless interactions among individuals and community groups that take place that may perpetuate the social disintegration among migrant and hosting communities. In this regard, it is the role of city governments to further seek local solutions to manage the community diversity by reaching out to both migrant and host communities as well as to mitigate the potential social exclusion and disintegration that may take place in communities or neighborhoods (MPI, 2013).

Participation can also become an element to promote social relations between newcomers and locals in which city governments can play a role as facilitators. There have been initiatives between public sectors (city governments) and non-governmental organizations, private sectors, urban practitioners, civil society representatives, migrant and diaspora groups to further discuss and cooperate on urban governance issues which are seen as the ‘opportunity structures’ among migrants and hosting society (IOM, 2015). Another example that is recently gaining popularity in homogenous society such as the Republic of Korea, is where localized policies and activities conducted by non-governmental organizations and migrant shelters provide spaces and programs where migrants and locals can interact together to increase the understanding between the two groups (Fitriana, 2016).

There are and there will be more countless examples where cities play roles to manage issues of incoming migrants and bridging them with hosting society. However, when it comes to managing incoming migrants, the discussion goes beyond the provision of housing, education, or income sources for the newcomers. It also deals with the social cohesion among members of community groups that include migrants and hosting community. In reducing the social disintegration and foster the social inclusion, it takes the political commitment from city governments and relevant partners to further recognize and acknowledge the connection between migrants and cities within their urban governance priorities considering the countless human mobility across the world.


Fitriana, C. E. 2016. Social Integration of Migrant Workers in Hosting Society: The Case of Indonesian EPS Workers in Ansan, South Korea. Unpublished Thesis: Graduate School of International and Area Studies, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

International Organization for Migration (IOM). 2015. World Migration Report 2015. Available at:

Migration Policy Institute (MPI). 2013. The Roles of Cities in Immigrant Integration. Available at:

By Cresti Eka Fitriana

Cresti is from Indonesia and she holds Master of Arts in International Development Studies from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS) in Seoul, Republic of Korea. She is a former awardee of Korean Government Scholarship Program (KGSP) and is specialized in areas including migration & development, social policy & inclusion, and ASEAN region. She served as a Program Intern in the CityNet Secretariat from August to November 2016.

The 10th Seoul ODA International Conference

On August 31st to September 1st 2016, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Korea in collaboration with the Korea International Cooperation Agency ( KOICA) successfully organized The 10th Seoul ODA International Conference in The Lotte Hotel, Seoul, Republic of Korea. For years, the Seoul ODA Conference has been a platform in the field of international development cooperation in Korea.


In the landscape of international development, last year marks an important time for the global agenda with the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement 2015 under the UNFCCC, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA). The global agenda serves as an international consensus to advance development efforts globally, as well as to provide new approaches on the way development intervention is practiced.

The new framework of SDGs has brought more inclusive approaches in sustainable development including the economic, social, and environmental aspect altogether. Official Development Assistance (ODA) has always been an essential part of the global and national practice of development. Therefore, the shift in development approaches would also influence how ODA is carried and utilized across development actors globally.

In this regard, the 10th Seoul ODA international Conference serves to facilitate the reflection of past efforts during the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as the projection of development interventions under the era of SDGs. The conference was divided into three sessions with each session serves as a platform to discuss related topics regarding the role of ODA under the SDGs framework.

The first day was started with two topics including Lessons Learned from the Past, and Means of Implementation of SDGs. Speakers were not only from the public and international organizations, but also from private sector, academics, and civil society organizations.

The first session, ‘Lesson Learned from the Past’ covered different topics on the achievements, pitfalls, and challenges of MDGs as well as what MDGs contributed to the development interventions globally. Speakers representing different development organizations including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Korea, USAID, and Vietnam Institute for Development Strategies were present. Among them, the topic of Goal Number 3 MDGs (Gender Equality and Women Empowerment) was agreed to be one of the most successful efforts across the globe. However, the issue of inequality still remains as a pitfall of different ranges of development interventions. Hence, taking this as a point of consideration and lesson learned, the issue of tackling inequality came up within the new framework of SDGs.

The session ‘Means of Implementation’ covered different topics on diversifying resources in supporting the SDGs. The session is moderated by Kilaparti Ramakrishna, the Director of UN ESCAP East and North-East Asia office. Different speakers from various backgrounds including UNCDF, Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation, KOICA, and Impact Investment Exchange Asia were present discussing the positioning of ODA as well as other resources to finance the implementation of SDGs. It was agreed that, although ODA has been an essential part of the discussion of financing development globally, financing the SDGs which are much more ambitious and universal also needs more ambitious sources to achieve the goals by 2030. Among all speakers in this session, Durreen Shahnaz, who has been working in impact investing in Southeast Asia, introduced the concept of impact investing, the concept of investments intended to create positive social impact beyond financial return, as additional sources in the diversification of SDGs funding.

The two days conference was closed by the discussion of ‘New Approach of Inclusiveness in the Era of SDGs’. As a more ambitious global agenda, the SDGs were seen to be more inclusive globally. Unlike MDGs that were focusing in developing countries, SDGs targets a universal coverage including developed countries. In addition, the sense of participatory and ownership are also two important parts in the SDGs implementation which countries could adopt in the process of designing their own development priorities.

Seoul ODA conference has been conducted annually for 10 years and will be serving as a place of development practitioners to share their insights and knowledge on development efforts in the upcoming years.


By Cresti Eka Fitriana

Cresti is from Indonesia and she holds Master of Arts in International Development from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS) in Seoul, Republic of Korea. She is a former awardee of Korean Government Scholarship Program (KGSP) and is specialized in areas including migration & development, social policy & inclusion, and ASEAN region.

The 7th ASEAN-ROK Transport Cooperation Forum


The 7th ASEAN-ROK Transport Cooperation Forum (June 1st– 3rd , 2016) was held at The Plaza Hotel, Seoul, Republic of Korea. It was hosted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (MOLIT) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The forum opened its door with introductory speeches of Jeong Ho Choi (Vice-Minister of MOLIT), Bonifacio, Sherielysse (Chairperson of ASEAN STOM) and Chang Woon Lee (President of KOTI).

The forum was divided up into following sessions:

  1. Convergence of Cities and Transport
  2. Convergence of Information, Energy, and Transport
  3. Convergence of New Technology and Transport
  4. ASEAN-ROK Cooperation in the Transport Sector.

The sessions touched on interesting topics regarding transport, such as the autonomous vehicles and efficient urban transportation system through utilization and dissemination of smart technologies. Overall, the bigger picture of the forum was to underscore the importance of city-to-city connectivity and mobility, sustainable development and international cooperation, which altogether addresses the common issue of over-densification of urban areas within the ASEAN member states. The forum on Day 1 was followed by company and country reports, as well as technical tour and culture experiences during the remaining two days.


Youngmin Chang, CityNet’s Director of Programs, represented CityNet during Session D by giving a presentation about “CityNet’s Current Situation and Plan of International Cooperation in ASEAN Countries”.  CityNet’s organizational focus tied in with the theme of the forum in that they both stress international cooperation through partnerships, sustainable development, and development of Asian-Pacific cities. CityNet not only actively cooperates with the local authorities such as the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), but also engages in exchanges between its international members through organizing platforms such as the CityNet Services.

However, CityNet goes a step further to address various factors other than transportation that shape the urban fabric: affordable housing (Affordable Housing KLRTC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. March 2016.), climate change (Cities and Climate Change, Jakarta, Indonesia. May 2016.) and waterworks (Waterworks ARISU, Seoul, Republic of Korea, planned for September and November 2016.). Some of the notable achievements of CityNet include co-development of the Urban SDG Knowledge Sharing Platform with UN-ESCAP and SMG, as well as development and launching of CityApp Sidoarjo with Microsoft and Sidoarjo Regency.

Concluding with recapping of one of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 targets – By 2030, provide safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all-, Youngmin Chang reinstated the common goal of CityNet and the attendees of the 7th ASEAN-ROK Transport Cooperation Forum: to construct a better transport system for Asia-Pacific cities through convergence strategies, hence addressing the urban challenges as well as providing ‘opportunities-for-all’ to enjoy sustainable, smart, and efficient urban transportation.

By Jiyoung Jo

Jiyoung Jo is a rising Senior at New York University majoring in Metropolitan Studies and Environmental Studies. Her interest lies in the field of sustainable city planning and urban design, and she has a wide range of work experiences at both public and private sector in New York.

Public Private Partnership in Asia

According to the World Bank, Asia, along with Africa, is urbanizing faster than the other regions in the world and is expected to become 64% urban in 2050 (World Urbanization Prospects, 2014). This fast rate of urban growth means unprecedented need for urban investment in Asia.

In Asia nowadays, several public infrastructures including roads, tunnels and buildings are built in support of private sectors, and the role of private side has become critical in public field. According to UNESCAP’s finding, in 2011-2016, private sector contribution on infrastructure investment is second largest funding source, next to government budget. Government alone may lack of financial resources, and if private resources can be mobilized, government budget can be used in more urgent sectors such as healthcare and poverty.

Since private participation in public infrastructures businesses has gained popularity in Asia Pacific region, it is very interesting to discuss how private corporations can jointly work with governments to create a synergy to improve our society and public lives.

The history of private participation in public services can be traced back to early 1980s starting from the United States and the United Kingdom. In Asia Pacific region, private participation began to sprawl in 1990s to 2000s. To give brief snapshot of what PPP (Public-Private Partnership) is (please note that the definition of PPP is tailored in each country depending on the institutional and legal conditions), generally speaking, it means projects that a local authority can engage private partners to develop urban infrastructure and related services (CDIA PPP Guide for Municipalities, 2010).

By engaging in PPPs, municipal governments and private corporates share risks and financial burdens, and significant risks are transferred to the private side. Usually private side pays for construction costs and gets return on their investment often by project’s revenues. Right after concession, ownership is transferred to municipal governments, private side receives a right to operate facility for several years and when their term ends, facility is returned to public. This type of PPP is called BTO, Build-Transfer-Operate PPP.

There is another type of PPP which is commonly implemented in South Korea, called BTL, Build-Transfer-Lease, where private side operates for certain period and within that period, municipal government lease that facility for operation. There are pros and cons for PPPs and each PPP project bears different risks. PPP projects can, however, be more cost-efficient, facilitates the construction and operation process, and risks and liabilities are reduced for governments.


Figure 1 Partnership and cooperation in PPP (Source: CDIA Guide)

In South Korea, since the late 1990s, government began to support private sector participation actively, and nowadays PPPs cover most of city infrastructures ranging from roads, tunnels, bridges, water management systems, airports, to streams (cheonggye stream). Compared to the late 1990s, in the 2000s, number of PPP projects assigned almost quadrupled in South Korea. Currently there are 46 infrastructure facility types (including road, rail, port, communications facilities etc.) in 15 sectors that are eligible for public-private partnership procurement (Public-Private Partnership Infrastructure Projects: Case Studies from the Republic of Korea, 2011).

“Woomyunsan Tunnel” which passes under Mount Woomyun and connects Seocho, suburb of Seoul to Gwachon and Anyang in Gyeonggi province, is one of the country’s major infrastructures based on BTO type PPP. This tunnel is the first infrastructure project of Seoul Metropolitan Government leveraging private investment.
Private investors paid KRW179 billion for operational control of the tunnel from 2004-2034 with no fee and gets the full rights of all profits. The ownership will be returned to Seoul Metropolitan Government in 2034, after 30 years of operation under Woomyunsan Infraway co.

Woomyunsan Infraway Corporation is owned by multiple investors/shareholders, one of the largest shareholders being Korean Teacher’s Credit Union. Previously, Macquarie was the largest shareholder, but with recent elimination of Minimum Revenue Guarantee (MRG), which basically benefitted private investors at the expense of expensive toll fees, Korean Teacher’s Credit Union became the largest investor. With the elimination of MRG, toll fee has continued to remain at KRW2,50, which is KRW500 lower than the original contract.


Figure 2 Woomyunsan Tunnel (Source: CityNet)


Figure 3 Woomyunsan Tunnel Site Visit (Source: CityNet)

It took about 4.5 years to build this tunnel, and it began operating in January 2004. The aim of Seoul Metropolitan Government when signing a contract with private partners to build this tunnel was to distribute heavy traffic between Seoul and Satellite cities and to encourage private investment for social infrastructures.

Nowadays, approximately 35,000 cars pass through Woomyunsan tunnel each day and this is expected to increase to approximately 50,000 cars daily after 2023. Although the current volume is not as high as initially expected (only 70% expected at the plan stage), it will continue to increase and this tunnel is expected to operate soundly as a gateway linking Seoul and Satellite cities in Gyeonggi province to make commuting faster and more efficient.


By Taekyung Koh
Taekyung received Bachelor’s at Emory University in the United States and currently studying International Commerce at Seoul National University Graduate School of International Studies. Her interest area is economic development and sustainability. Taekyung has work experience as a market researcher at global market research firm before starting her master’s program, and was mainly in charge of international market research and overseas partner development.


Infrastructure Financing, Public-private Partnerships, and Developmnet in the Asia-Pacific Region, 2015, United Nations ESCAP
World Urbanization Prospects, 2014, World Bank
CDIA PPP Guide for Municipalities, 2010, CDIA
Public-Private Partnership Infrastructure Projects: Case Studies from the Republic of Korea, 2011, J.H. Kim, J.W. Kim & Choi
Public-Private Partnerships in China’s Urban Water Sector, 2008, Zhang, Mol & Fu

Planting the Energy in Buildings and City




COP21 Poster, Courtesy of Ron Made, (

Climate change and green growth are key issues in a rapid urbanizing world. According to the Worldwatch Institute, 80% of greenhouse gas emission is from urban areas. Last year, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held its 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) in Paris, France. The Paris Agreement is the global agreement to tackle climate change that resulted from the negotiations during this conference.

One of the key elements of the agreement is Article 2.1.a of the Adoption of the Paris Agreement; “Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change” (2015, p 21).

To strengthen the practical implementation of the agreement, Seoul Metropolitan Government held the policy discussion event ‘Planting Energy in Buildings and City’ on December 15th, 2015. According to Mayor Park, the purpose of this discussion was to enhance Seoul’s self-reliant urban energy policies, to hear about various opinions from experts and citizens, to reconstruct pre-existed regulations, and to find solutions for a long-term development through the green energy. The main topic of the discussion was the energy efficiency of buildings and cities, and the invited experts and academics presented their opinions and suggestions. I will share some remarks from the experts that were interesting for me in this post.


Mayor Park is giving an opening speech at the policy discussion event, ‘Planting Energy in Buildings and City’

Ms. Yang Yi Wonyoung, administrator of the Federation for Environment Movement, discussed about urban rehabilitation. Urban rehabilitation is important because old buildings have high energy consumption in heating, air conditioning, and lighting. According to Ms. Yang, the private sector led urban rehabilitation project, also known as New Town Development Strategy, is limited since it usually works for its profit only, and it can have a financial deficit.

In the past, there were many cases when a private sector without enough funds stopped the redevelopment project before finishing and left it on hold for a long time. Therefore, the public sector should systematically implement the planning and management of the project as it’s for the public’s interest, such as the increased quality of housing and the urban improvement. To do this, government intervention, in terms of policy advisory, regulation, financial support, and after-care services, is essential. Moreover, government should carefully design the incentive structure to equally distribute the benefits to different classes and actors.

Lastly, Ms. Yang emphasized on the importance of the citizen’s involvement in urban rehabilitation projects from the beginning to the end. Citizen should actively communicate with decision makers about their needs and interests, so the project can be well directed to a common goal.


The Expert’s presentation at the event ‘Planting Energy in Buildings and City’

Ms. Jaehee Jung, professor of Hongik University, talked about the building design and energy. Her main argument was to create a building design for people that save energy. Her key point was not only to focus on environment sustainability, but also on the social sustainability. She believes a real positive impact of energy efficiency comes from user-focused planning. A famous example is the integrated daylighting design with glass wall provides both environmental and aesthetic value. While it significantly reduces energy consumption, it also increases human comfort. Thus, urban designers and policy makers should consider a creative design and technology that respects social, cultural, and environmental aspects in order to build an environmentally friendly and sustainable city.

Professor Lee Jung Hyung from Chung-Ang University also put an importance on citizen’s participation. He pointed out that a little bit of personal inconvenience is required for energy efficiency, so people need to adapt themselves to a less convenient lifestyle and build consensus on it. The examples of the lifestyle can be riding bicycles instead of riding personal cars, and decreasing the temperature of a heater at home.

On the ‘top-down’ versus ‘bottom-up’ approach debate, both methods should be applied together with trust in between top and bottom to make an urban area sustainable. Government and decision makers should strategically implement big projects such as urban rehabilitation and city planning with given fund, infrastructure, human resources, and a fair incentive structure. In addition, it should cooperate with private sectors to develop and adapt renewable energy in the buildings and housings. Meanwhile, citizens should actively participate in a government project to support and reflect their opinions. Implementing green energy in buildings and developing sustainable urban areas are important challenges. However, with government’s and citizen’s contribution, consensus and trust can make a successful model of energy efficient living condition.

CityNet Intern Jamie Lee

Jamie (Jisoo) Lee, CityNet Intern
Jamie is a recent graduate from University of Washington with Political Economy major interested in foreign aid, SDGs, and comparative politics.

Our City, Our Future

Thriving, harmonious, efficient, safe, resilient & green: words that we dream of when planning our cities of the future. Across Asia, governments, communities and businesses are moving to realise the dreams of people with many eco-city projects under development. This gives us an insight into Asian models for sustainable development.

Cities are currently responsible for more than 70 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions, and opportunistically also represent a key force in reducing emissions and resource consumption. Sustainable development requires bold action, while also strengthening the local economy and creating a better place to live.

Courtesy of WiNG via Wikipedia

Courtesy of WiNG via Wikipedia

In identifying a unique Asian model of sustainable development, the Tianjin Eco-city a Sino-Singapore flagship project is a good case study to explore. Not yet fully constructed and recovering from the deadly August industrial explosion, the vision of Tianjin was defined to be “A thriving city which is socially harmonious, environmentally-friendly and resource-efficient – a model for sustainable development”. This vision is brought together by the concepts of the Three Harmonies and the Three Abilities.

The Three Harmonies involves creating an eco-city where:

  1. People living in harmony with other people;
  2. People living in harmony with economic activities;
  3. People living in harmony with the environment.

Three Abilities requires an eco-city to be:

  1. Practicable – the technologies adopted in the Eco-city must be affordable and commercially viable;
  2. Replicable – the principles and models of the Eco-city could be applied to other cities in China and even in other countries;
  3. Scalable – the principles and models could be adapted for another project or development of a different scale.
Courtesy of Blick vom Fernsehturm Richtung via

Courtesy of Blick vom Fernsehturm Richtung via

Another case for achieving sustainable development from government was shown in the city of Sanya in China. Along China’s southern cost of tropical beaches and tourism resorts, Sanya took an ambitious plan to do a stock measurement of the value of its ecosystem services in 2005. After 15 years of immense economic development, the city leaders decided on a new green growth plan which would incorporate natural capital accounting alongside their Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

A famous quote by US President Robert Kennedy says that the standard measure of our economies GDP “…measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile”. Natural capital accounting is a prominent step in sustainable development, and it involves measuring a range of ecosystem services in a city or town that we would not usually measure in our GDP.

Natural capital is the land, air, water, living organisms, and ecosystem goods and services that we rely on for survival and wellbeing. Our cities, businesses and communities receive some immense economic benefits from ecosystem services, such as New York City’s water supply. Manhattan, in New York, gets its primary source of drinking water from an update source, which was threatened by urban sprawl. The city decided to spend $1.5 billion to preserve 80,000 acres of natural landscapes to avoid paying $8 billion for a water filtration plant costing more than $300 million per year to run. Forests for example, play a role in stabilising sediment and excess nutrients from waterways. A forest wetland can filter water at approximately one-seventh of the cost with basic maintenance per thousand gallons than conventional wastewater treatment systems.

By considering these vital services from nature, Sanyo was able to make some important decisions on how they plan infrastructure and industry growth to ensure community wellbeing and sustainable development. This led to the creation of the below map where red zones represent areas decreasing in natural value, orange slightly declining and green zones increasing. Sanya valued their natural capital at approximately $40 billion (USD), 5.6 times their local GDP in 2013.

Since it’s first ecosystem measurement in 2005, Sanya has been growing its economy and the value of their natural capital stocks and their provided services (eco-tourism from coral reefs). Since tracking the change in natural capital, Sanya has been able to demonstrate the growth in its economy shown as GDP in red, natural resources shown in blue and ecosystem services shown in green from 2005 to 2013. Sanyo is able to holistically develop its quality of life in real terms beyond income measures.

Professor Thomas Homer-Dixon describes in his work the five ‘tectonic stresses’ which are bearing down on civilization: climate change; energy scarcity; environmental degradation; and intense conflict from urbanised megacities; and the extreme economic imbalance throughout the world. The enormity of these issues I know overwhelms many people still today and we struggle with how to begin to set our cities on the path to sustainable development.

Pushing beyond these enormous challenges of the world, my eternal optimism re-imagines sustainable development as going back to the basics and recultivating new approaches for empowering communities towards sustainable development. It is essential that we connect and communicate stories with people to inspire them to act and motivate change–stories about local communities and initiatives, which are green and bold. Communication is the key and the catalyst for broad social change.

I identify with this sustainability movement that is focussed on creativity, family, community, fun and reflection. Through innovative and decisive initiatives, vision and a sense of community, we can realise much success with sustainable development.


By Grant Duthie
Grant is from Australia who has lived and worked in Asia studying the cultural drivers, new social perspectives and trends in Asia-Pacific urban communities. Through his experience in social living environments, Grant writes on regional urban themes on his blog Urban Billion