Sincere EU help on climate, urban crisis
Published on: Sunday, November 03, 2019
By: Kan Yaw Chong
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Pablo Gandara-IUC Asia team leader, shares information from Europe to the world.
TALKING about sincere cooperation, concrete practical help, commitment to serious action, the European Union gets our vote. 

We can see it, hear it and feel it and read about it.

The good story we would like more people to know is the European Union funded International Urban Co-operation ( IUC), especially its Regional Chapter Asia called the IUC Asia Programme which has a direct impact and benefit right down to Sabah cities. 

Cooperation as a matter of friendship, trust, efficiency on matters common global and local problems, a very responsive EU is providing the leadership which is very focussed on actions that decide long term outcomes. 

Of course, one has to understand that the EU has a very extrovertic institution called FPI, that is, Service for Foreign Policy Instruments which looks after EU foreign policy actions and manages operations such as financing.


Pablo Gandara, IUC Asia team leader briefs city to city co-operation delegates from EU, China, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia.


EU External Action Service makes its mark 

In short, the FPI is a service of the EU Commission which works very closely alongside the European External Action Service (EEAS).

External Action Service! That says it all.

It’s not the same as a mere Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Department of Foreign Affairs. 

European Union is serious about Action Service outreach going far beyond their borders and for sure, that outreach has reached Sabah, penetrated Tawau, Kota Kinabalu and most recently Penampang District Council. 


Penampang joining the big league. From left, councillors Kevin Joibi, James Kenson, (Russian delegate), Freddy Ekol and Dr Rudolf Niessler of EU Commission.


Take notice of IUC presence 

This is why Malaysians and Sabahans should begin to notice the presence of the International Urban Co-operation (IUC) , the umbrella EU Programme which has its Regional Chapter called the IUC Asia Project funded by the EU Partnership Instrument and give them due support.

Three top persons worthy of note here are Dr. Rudolf Niessler, Principal Advisor to the Director General for Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission, Bangkok –based Michel Mouchiroud from the EU Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI) and Beijing based Pablo Gandara, IUC Asia Team Leader.

No one could miss the presence of these three top brass who led a team of key university and urban development expert presenters from Hamburg, Stuggart, Germany, Rome, Italy and Barcelona, Spain, in collaboration with some 50 city expert partners from China, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia, at the 7th Asia Pacific Urban Forum (APUF7), held in Penang’s Spice Convention Centre, 15-17 October, attended by 5000 city stakeholders from the region. 


IUC Asia Project has 2 objectives

The EU funded IUC Asia Project has two objectives.

Objective Number One is the strengthen EU-Asia city to city co-operation on sustainable urban development .

Objective Number Two is to strengthen EU-Asia co-operation on local and regional climate change action, building on EU’s experience with the Covenant of Mayors. 

City to city cooperation is actually peer to peer link up because shared understanding and experience on urbane issues is deemed by EU as the most efficient way to ensure that EU cities and cities in other parts of the world can work hand in hand easily to achieve even global objectives nations set for themselves, such as The Paris Agreement on Climate Change adopted by consensus on Dec 12, 2015. 


Eu demo on latest interactive digital technology tool on Urban planning.


Malaysia clearly benefiting from EU funded climate action training

Malaysia directly benefited when EU –funded the inaugural Global Covenant of Mayors on Climate and Energy Coventant training for 21 Malaysian cities, Penampang District Council included, on climate change Adaptation and Mitigation – Risks and Vulnerability Assessment, in late March 2018.

A second training on preparation of climate action plan followed in Kuala Lumpur for the same cities in April 2019, followed by a third training on Climate Action Target Setting in Kota Kinabalu hosted by Penampang District Council in July 2019 and the fourth and final training on Climate Action Financing held the Seberang Perai and Penang on October 14-15. 

In the sense that nobody seems to care about a widely accepted fact of a rapid sharp rise in the mean global temperature over the last two decades, the fast and serious actions from the EU funded 10,000-city members GCoM on Climate and Energy looks like the only hope that this oft described ‘Tragedy of the Commons’, is finally getting the collective global attention that it urgently needs. 


Key city delegates from China from Tianjin, Guangzhou for IUC Asia city to city co-operation cluster meeting.


City to city co-operation tremendously important

IUC Asia’s second objective – city to city urban cooperation is much more humbler than the global climate action objective but is tremendously important. 

Why? Globally speaking, cities today occupy only about 2pc of total land but they are responsible for 70pc of the global GDP, over 60pc of the global energy consumption, 70pc of the global greenhouse gas emissions and 70pc of the global wastes! 


Battle for sustainable development won or lost in cities 

So it is clear that the battle for sustainable development is won or lost in the cities.    Across the world, the rate of urbanisation is increasing at a rapid rate, just like mean global temperature in rising sharply very rapidly.

As the areas in which the majority of people live and work, cities are increasingly acknowledged as the arena which solutions to major social and environmental challenges must be implemented.

Cities are the world’s primary hubs of economic and cultural activity, a fact which is causing the rate of urbanisation to increase at a rapid pace.

This accelerated demographic change has put many cities under major stress which many local governments are struggling to meet the higher demand for services in fields such as energy, water, health, and transport prompted by the increase in population.


Cities – Where the battle on sustainable development is won or lost.


Sharing solutions to common problems through IUC

The IUC international cooperation programme aims to enable cities in different regions to link up and share solutions to common problems.

It is part of along term strategy by the European Union to foster sustainable urban development in co-operation with both the public and private sectors as well as representatives of research and innovation, community groups and citizens.

Through engaging in the IUC, cities will have the chance to share and exchange knowledges with their international counterparts , building a greener, more prosperous future. 


Penampang joining the big league of cities 

The IUC programme is an opportunity for cites to learn from each other, set ambitious targets, forge lasting partnerships, test new solutions, and boost their international profile.

This is exactly the benefit that has happened to Sabah, particularly Penampang District Council which is now a part of the big league of the 10,000-member GCoM.

Come late November, Penampang has been invited to Brussels to present their climate action case to the EU!

IUC’s activities will support the achievement of policy objectives as well as the major international agreements on urban development, such as the New Urban Agenda formally adopted by national governments during UN-Habitat III Forum on 20 October 2016, in Quito , Ecuador, which provides a roadmap for sustainable urban development , UN’s set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the Dec 12, 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.


IUC outreach rapidly penetrated local authorities through good connection 

According to Boyd Joeman, a Sabahan who heads the Environment Department of Iskandar Regional Development Authority, Johor, through good connections and networking with people like himself ad Dr Bernadia, head of United Cities and Local Government Asia Pacific, IUC Asia project penetrated very quickly many cities in Southeast Asia – 26 cities alone in Malaysia, five pilot cities and a conference lined up in December 2019.

Guided by GCoM funded technical experts, by April 2020, the five pilot cities – Tawau, Penamapng, Kota Kinabalu, Muar and Ipoh will be ready with their Climate Action Plan for a low carbon society, based on the four training modules conducted since late March 2018.  

A key part of the Climate Action Plan for Penamapang will deal with Donggogon’s infamous floods.

Of course that is the future Penampang folks want – a flood free Penampang district!

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