Mayors meet the UN and the business community at Building Bridges

On 3 October 2023, Mayors, UN leaders and the business community conducted for the first time at Building Bridges a holistic discussion on sustainable financing at local level through UN action. Mayors presented their valuable projects, UN leaders shared ways and means they can assist with and abrdn advised on how to prepare and plan sustainable projects.

Dmitry Mariyasin (UNECE), Shipra Narang Suri (UN-Habitat) and Diego Aulestia (UNECLAC) emphasized the need for smart and sustainable urban design. Cities are part of the solution to achieve SDGs through localization and better implementation. A transformative change is key. Investors need bankable projects and local governments should reduce the risks to attract more investment. Dan Grandage (abrdn) offered his views on how to define and plan sustainable projects that respond to real societal needs. Investment in sustainable infrastructure and sustainable real estate are two viable avenues to explore.

The cities of Amman (Jordan), Dire Dawa (Ethiopia), Dodoma (Tanzania), Kigali (Rwanda), Naga (Philippines), Nakhom Si Thammarat (Thailand) and Otavalo (Ecuador) spoiled the audience with great examples of projects ranging from an Integrated Control and Command Center to deploying Metaverse in schools and building a smart City Observatory, as well as from City Hall solar energization to smart water and waste management.

To become a cognitive and smart city, the Municipality of Amman seeks to establish an Integrated Control and Command Center, which constitutes a central and smart headquarters for managing the main operations of the city (including transportation, traffic, etc.).

The “Dodoma City Observatory Development” aims to replicate the model established in Tanga City (Tanzania) to enhance sustainable urban development, data-driven decision-making, and youth empowerment in Dodoma City – by building the capacity of local youth and service providers in frontier technology.

Nakhon Si Thammarat City, recognizing the transformative power of the Metaverse – including augmented reality and virtual reality technologies, integrates it into the educational landscape. The deployment of the Metaverse technology in schools revolutionizes the learning experience and paves the way to an inclusive education.

The City Hall solar energization project in Naga City is a great example of charting a path towards attaining a clean energy future. Thanks to this investment, the city can reduce electricity bills and sell the surplus to the grid using the government’s net-metering scheme.

Other projects covered city level utilities, among others public transport electrification, water and sanitation, and smart waste management systems. These developments, with adequate financing, would contribute to the achievement of SDGs through localizing implementation efforts.

Questions from the audience covered the financing tools (municipal bonds, public-private partnerships, etc.), local policies to create adequate regulatory, economic and social environment, etc.

The “Building Bridges 2023” Summit in Geneva offered the very opportunity to bring LRGs, UN entities and the financial sector around the same table to discuss a more inclusive approach that delivers on advancing and accelerating the transition to a sustainable financial system globally. The scale and complexity of this transition requires further concrete and long-term collaboration between the wide range of actors, such as the UN, the financial community, asset owners, private sector networks as well as local and regional governments.

Léman Bleu interviewed Kanop Ketchar, Mayor of Nakhon Si Thammarat

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