Seven cities in ASEAN are participating in the CLA Conference (Image: Evan Roe)

ASEAN and US Cities "Link" to Address Climate Change

ASEAN The Mekong

Seven ASEAN cities will send delegations to the Climate Leadership Academy (CLA) program in Jakarta on August 13-15, jointly run by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC), two US-based nonprofits. Following the conference, four of the cities will then participate in a USAID-sponsored “CityLinks” Pilot Partnership with a matching U.S. city.

The ASEAN cities selected for the climate conference are Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Palembang, Indonesia; Paksane, Lao PDR; Kuantan, Malaysia; Legazpi, Philippines; Chiang Rai, Thailand; and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Each city will send teams of 5 government officials and/or key decision-makers, with final team selection ultimately determined by national representatives from the ASEAN Working Group on Environmentally-Sensitive Cities. In the ASEAN region, many cities in Indonesia as well as a few in Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines have already partnered with U.S. cities under the CityLinks program since its launch in 1997 (when it was known as “Resource Cities”).

At the conference, attendees will have the chance to learn from international experts about best practices in designing regulations, agreements, and physical infrastructure that is resilient to and mitigates the worst effects of climate change. The attendees will also have the chance to meet with their counterparts in other ASEAN cities and discuss common problems in pushing for climate-readiness. The organizers hope that these groups of officials can use the technical knowledge and contacts made at the conference to act as a force for change in the domestic political arena. To that end, the ISC has pledged to consult with the selected cities and focus on the specific challenges each city faces ahead of the start of the conference.

Following the conference, four of the seven cities will enter into a CityLinks Pilot Partnership, a program also supported by USAID and run through the ICMA. The partnerships work to bring together an American city with a counterpart abroad, allowing American city officials to share skills and resources. In line with the climate orientation of the initial conference, the four CityLinks projects will focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation plans for the ASEAN cities, as well as fostering business and community ties.