Regional Exchange Platform: Transforming Asia's cities

How urban transformation, feminism and the circular economy are shaping the futures of cities of Asia.

Urban transformation in Asia is inevitable. The change of socio-economic structures, climate change adaptation and mitigation drive change in cities across the region. What this transformation will look like, is not a ­fixed process, however. People from all backgrounds should get a say in what their urban future needs to look like to be socially and ecologically just.

In our regional exchange platform on social-ecological transformation of Asian cities this year, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Climate and Energy Project in Asia brought together speakers from academia, politics, and civil society to share their perspectives and exchange ideas from 22-24 June 2022.

Urban transformation trends – Cities as places for transformation

Asia is a rapidly urbanizing region where various urban development projects are transforming social and natural landscapes. Our speakers shared examples from India, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam on how small-scale change towards a socially and ecologically just city can look like and emphasized ideas of what places and agents of change are on a systemic level. A holistic transformation needs multiple entry points, and the city should be considered as a process or a living organism that people from all levels can have influence on.

Feminist cities

“Feminist urban development is about more than simply providing adequate nighttime lighting for dark pathways or extending the green signal for pedestrians. Instead, all improvements must consider the distribution of power within the city.", stressed Dr Birte Rodenberg, event facilitator and a gender and feminism expert. Feminism is an important framework that allows us to analyze current power structures and identify lacks of representation and participation of certain groups in urban planning, design, and policy. In the exchange, the participants explored how feminists are making a difference to urban planning in Asian megacities such as the Philippines’ Safe City Act, projects of UN Habitat in India, and the Gender in Urban Climate Change Initiative in Indonesia.

Transition to circular economy

Circular economy is a tool for transforming cities that has the potential to change how we think about economic paradigms and make our lives more ecologically and socially just. Great speakers from  India,Thailand and Vietnam joined the session and shared about the general framework of circular economy in their respective country contexts and project examples, including a perspective on gender on this matter. There is lots to gain when transitioning from a linear to a circular economy as Shruthi Sinha remarked, "Circularity is great for the environment, the benefits are multifold - from economic to environmental."

The FES Regional Climate & Energy Project in Asia, established in 2015, aims to fostering a social-ecological transformation in Asia by promoting international and domestic climate justice and exploring solutions for a just transition, especially in the energy sector. To learn more about the work, visit our programme page or follow us on Twitter and Facebook

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