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Credit: Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Credit: Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Concept note outlines Singapore’s vision for ASEAN Smart Cities Network

On 27 April, ASEAN released a concept note which outlines Singapore’s proposal to establish an ASEAN Smart Cities Network.

According to the document, most of ASEAN’s growth has been, and will continue to be, driven by urban centres, with 90 million more people expected to urbanise by 2030. However, rapid urbanisation also has implications on issues like city congestion, water and air quality, poverty, rising inequalities, urban-rural divide, citizen security and safety.

“Technological and digital solutions can be utilised to resolve these issues and to enhance quality and accessibility of services, thereby improving our citizens’ lives across the urban-rural continuum, creating new opportunities for them and helping ensure that no one is left behind,” the concept note writes.

In recognition of these trends, Singapore proposes to establish an ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN) to synergise these efforts and bring the smart cities in ASEAN together, thereby contributing to ASEAN community building.

The ASEAN Smart Cities Network include 26 pilot cities. They are (in alphabetical order): Bandar Seri Begawan, Bangkok, Banyuwangi, Battambang, Cebu City, Chonburi, Da Nang, Davao City, DKI Jakarta, Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Luang Prabang, Makassar, Mandalay, Manila, Nay Pyi Taw, Phnom Penh, Phuket, Siem Reap, Singapore, Vientiane, and Yangon.

ASEAN member states will also be asked to assign Chief Smart City Officers (one for each ASCN city) as well as National Representatives to participate in crafting their respective city’s action plan and discuss the ASEAN Smart Cities and attend ASCN meetings.

Vision for an ASEAN Smart Cities Network

The ASCN is envisioned as a collaborative platform where up to three cities from each ASEAN member state, including capitals, work towards the common goal of smart and sustainable urban development.

The primary goal of the Network is to improve the lives of ASEAN citizens, using technology as an enabler.

“By focusing on our people, it will adopt an inclusive approach to smart city development that is respectful of human rights and fundamental freedoms as inscribed in the ASEAN Charter. The networking of Smart Cities across ASEAN would also contribute to enhancing better mutual understanding across cultures,” the document writes.

Goals of the ASEAN Smart Cities Network

The ASCN aims to achieve the following goals of (1) facilitating cooperation on smart cities development, (2) catalysing bankable projects with the private sector, and (3) securing funding and support from ASEAN’s external partners.

Member cities and their National Representatives will come together to explore potential complementarities, share best practices, develop individualised action plans for smart city development from 2018 to 2025, and craft a framework for smart cities development that is unique to ASEAN;

Under the network, member cities will also be linked up with private sector solution providers to kick-start practical and commercially viable projects with tangible outcomes. They will also pair up with specific external partners on a voluntary basis, and form mutually beneficial partnerships to drive smart cities development, while promoting better understanding between ASEAN and its external partners at the cities level.

Multilateral financial institutions, such as the World Bank (and International Financial Cooperation), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and Global Infrastructure Hub (GIH) are some of the external partners.

Credit: ASEAN

Key initiatives of the ASCN

(1)    City-specific Action Plans for Smart City Development (2018 – 2025)

In May 2018, Singapore will host the 5-day Smart Cities Governance Workshop (SCGW) where member cities will develop initial action plans for smart city development. The action plans will contain specific projects and action lines that the member city will undertake from 2018 to 2025, in its desired areas of focus. Those action plans can be developed from cities’ existing blueprints or action plans for smart, inclusive, and sustainable urbanisation, if any.

After AMS formally endorse the draft ASEAN Smart Cities Framework, member cities will share their action plans and meet with private-sector solution providers from ASEAN and beyond to explore commercially viable projects.

(2)    ASEAN Smart Cities Framework

The ASCN member cities and their National Representatives will also jointly craft an ASEAN Smart Cities Framework that articulates ASEAN’s definition of a smart city, outlines key principles, and identifies core outcomes.

According to the concept note, the Framework will not impose on existing national development plans. Instead, it will be a normative document that guides the smart city development in each ASCN city, which is specific to each city’s local and cultural context.

The member cities and National Representatives will discuss a revised draft framework, based on the initial draft prepared by Singapore, at the SCGW in May 2018. The framework will be targeted for endorsement at the first ASCN meeting in July and adoption by the ASEAN Leaders at the 33rd ASEAN Summit in November 2018.

(3)    Annual Meeting of the ASCN

In this July, alongside the World Cities Summit, Singapore will convene the first annual meeting of the ASCN, inviting all member cities and their National Representatives.

After 2018, the ASCN will continue to meet annually to discuss progress on each city’s action plan, launch new projects with private sector solution providers where feasible, and explore new opportunities to bring ASEAN’s external partners on board.

The annual meeting will be chaired and hosted by the ASEAN Chair to help promote continuity of efforts across several ASEAN Chairmanships. The ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC) will produce an annual report based on the outcomes of this meeting.

(4)    Twinning Programme

As ASEAN Chair, Singapore will facilitate the formation of these pairings in the ASCN’s inaugural year by organising a “matchmaking” platform alongside the ASCN’s first meeting in July 2018. The ASCN member cities will each pair up with one of ASEAN’s external partners on a voluntary basis, forming mutually beneficial partnerships for cooperation on smart cities development. These partnerships could focus on implementing commercially viable projects and other initiatives as mutually agreed, based on the cities’ action plans.

The finalised list of pairings between ASCN cities and external partners will be collated. The twinning programme will then be announced during the 51st ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and Related Post-Ministerial Conferences in August 2018.

Reporting Mechanism

Credit: ASEAN

According to the concept note, “effective cross-pillar coordination is a perennial issue that ASEAN has yet to fully resolve”, and that “the ASCN will pave the way for more effective cross-pillar collaboration in ASEAN, by enhancing cooperation at city level to address city-specific issues across the three pillars”.

The Joint Consultative Meeting (JCM) will serve as the ASCN’s primary reporting mechanism. Following the ASCN meeting every year, the Chair of the ASCN (i.e. the National Representative of the ASEAN Chair) and the ASCN shepherd will attend the JCM as resource persons, and submit a report of the ASCN’s progress and key achievements.

The JCM will then report to the ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) and the ASEAN Summit. As the ASCN matures, the ASCN could review the reporting mechanism and make a recommendation to the JCM on a reporting mechanism that would best support smart cities development in all ten member states

Within the ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC), the monitoring/secretariat role will be played by ASEC’s Integration Monitoring Directorate (IMD) under the ASEAN Economic Community Branch. IMD will monitor the progress made on the member cities’ action plans and assist with the drafting of the ASCN’s annual reports.

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