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About this book

This book explores significant aspects of the New Urban Agenda in the Asia-Pacific region, and presents, from different contexts and perspectives, innovative interventions afoot for transforming the governance of 21st-century cities in two key areas: (i) urban planning and policy; and (ii) service delivery and social inclusion. Representing institutions across a wide geography, academic researchers and development practitioners from Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America have authored the chapters that lend the volume its distinctly diverse topical foci. Based on a wide range of cases and intriguing experiences, this collection is a uniquely valuable resource for everyone interested in the present and future of cities and urban regions in Asia-Pacific.

Table of Contents


New Urban Agenda in Asia-Pacific: An Overview


New Urban Agenda in Asia-Pacific: Governance for Sustainable and Inclusive Cities

The Asia-Pacific region houses over half of the world’s urban population, and is estimated to reach 50% urbanization mark in 2019. Based on their sustained economic growth, Asian-Pacific cities have played a transformative role in the region, and are on the forefront of economic, social, political, and informational and technological change. However, they are also characterized by widespread urban poverty and inequality, enormous deficiencies in access to shelter and services, and deteriorating quality of the urban environment. The New Urban Agenda (NUA) aims to address the main issues faced by cities and human settlements around the world today, and outlines key principles and commitments towards addressing them. First, this chapter contextualises the NUA vis-à-vis the key sustainable and inclusive urban development issues worldwide. Second, it systematically reviews the idea of governance, and its evolution and theoretical underpinnings since the early 1980s in relation to the changing emphases of overseas development aid. Likewise, it provides insights into the ideas and literature related to governance, decentralization and democratization, and their relevance to cities. Third, the chapter juxtaposes the NUA with the urban realities of the Asia-Pacific region, and reviews three areas of immediate concern: (i) urban governance as an umbrella to respond to urban challenges, (ii) urban planning and policy, and (iii) service delivery and access for social inclusion. In doing so, it highlights the latest tenets of the global urban agenda that are articulated in the NUA, and Sustainable Development Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Finally, by providing a brief introduction to the various chapters, it explains how they are organized in the following three sections of the book: (i) urban planning and policy, (ii) innovations in service delivery and access for social inclusion, and (iii) emerging trends and future trajectories.
Bharat Dahiya, Ashok Das

Urban Planning and Policy


Integrating Urban-Rural Development (IURD) Through Governance Programmes in China’s Megacities: The Suzhou Model

The developed regions in China are now confronted with the issue of how urban-rural dual development should integrate into a unitary economy. This chapter describes the policy goal, accomplishments, institutional innovations, and issues of integrated urban-rural development in county-level cities and subdivisions of Suzhou municipality—China’s only pilot city designated by the central government to experiment with integrated urban-rural development through government programmes. The chapter discusses Suzhou’s efforts in this regard, its relevance to what has been proposed in The New Urban Agenda, and the applicability of its pilot integrated urban-rural development practice and planning strategies in similar areas.
Chenhao Fang, Chen Chen, Min Zhao, Richard LeGates

Urban Policies in Neo-Liberal India

India, like several other Asian countries, has in recent decades experienced much change in urban governance. Economic liberalisation and de-centralisation measures adopted by all tiers of government—a consequence of the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992—have resulted in a gradual with-drawal of the state and increased private sector participation in capital investment and urban services. It was sought to fill the institutional vacuum left by a retracting state with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector through new forms of urban governance. The empowerment of urban local bodies (ULBs)—i.e. local government units—through funds, functions and functionaries, as envisaged in the 74th CAA still remains a distant dream. In the post-reform period, the national five-year plans adopted an inclusive agenda and launched several programmes with private sector participation as “missions”—with clearly defined objectives, scopes, timelines, milestones, as well as measurable outcomes and service levels. Most such programmes, however, demonstrated a “big-city bias” and the exclusion of the small urban centres and the poor. The much-acclaimed Smart Cities Mission, for instance, mainly focuses on retrofitting parts of cities by engaging special purpose vehicles (SPVs), which are likely to further disempower the already weak ULBs. In light of these transformations, this chapter evaluates India’s post-liberalization urbanization scenario; current urban development programmes and system of governance; as well as ULBs to suggest a way forward for inclusive urbanization.
Debolina Kundu

The Changing Role of Regional Organisation of Councils in Australia: Case Studies from Perth Metropolitan Region

This chapter seeks to make a case for regional integration of urban governance at the local government level in Australia. Growing complexity of planning issues and changing community values require governments to constantly look for innovative formats of governance. There is a need to promote models of governance based on collaboration rather than competition between government entities. At the level of local government, collaborative partnerships that are sustainable can be reached between adjoining councils contributing as equals and driven by common values and the need to cooperate for better outcomes. By entering into voluntary agreements in the form of regional organisations of councils, an individual local council could enable itself to rise beyond solving problems regarding provision of services to its rate payers, to additionally take an active role in tackling higher level problems relating to regional development and sustainable development. This chapter describes the role played by regional organisations of councils in Australia in general, referring to a few case studies from Western Australia.
Shahed Khan, Bhishna Bajracharya

Issues in Urban Planning and Policy: The Case Study of Lahore, Pakistan

Since Pakistan’s independence from the British in 1947, Lahore has struggled to reconcile the two parallel cities that developed under a century of colonial rule. Old Lahore, laid out as a typical city from the medieval period, was largely contained within its defensive, fortified walls four kilometres from the bank of river Ravi. It had developed as a network of densely packed streets containing houses, bazaars and royal monuments alike. This organic city form was interrupted when the British demolished its walls and constructed their administrative apparatus on the surrounding plains. Although the new city that emerged was well planned with modern thoroughfares, canals and railway tracks, it was built on the premise of exclusion that set the course for its future development into the post-colonial era. The story of planning this multidimensional city over the subsequent seventy-odd years, which has no doubt seen some successes, is a tumultuous one. This chapter intends to explore the various efforts made to organize the chaos of a city unsettled by the aftereffects of colonization and the trauma of partition through to the present. All the while, Lahore has been a rapidly sprawling regional capital at the heart of Pakistan’s most populous province of Punjab. This chapter will include a review of the various policies, plans and legal frameworks that were introduced, along with the institutional setup intended to enforce these policies. The city’s master plans are discussed, including their soundness, the fate of their implementation and the results, if any, that were realized. Perhaps most importantly, in light of the debatable success of past planning efforts, an attempt has been made to flesh out Lahore’s current trajectory of urban planning and policy, and provide recommendations for promoting sustainable development as Lahore stands at the cusp of becoming Pakistan’s second megacity.
Nasir Javed, Sana Riaz

Urban Governance Challenges and Reforms in Indonesia: Towards a New Urban Agenda

In recent decades, Indonesia has experienced rapid urbanization and economic growth, and since 2012 its urban population has grown by more than half. Since 2001 it has also transformed from being a highly centralized country to a highly decentralized one. The ensuing proliferation of local governments and municipalities poses new challenges and sets the context for contemplating the future trajectory of Indonesian urban governance. This chapter analyses a set of governance reforms the Indonesian government is implementing, and highlights some governance challenges in regard to improving urban planning and policy. It then also discusses Indonesia’s challenges in implementing the New Urban Agenda (NUA). The Indonesian government aims to adopt the NUA for guiding nationwide sustainable development goals (SDGs). Guided by the NUA, Indonesia has placed spatial planning at the centre of urban governance, with a mission to build inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities. Only time will tell if this set of governance reforms that Indonesia has launched could overcome the persistent challenges to its urban planning practices.
Wilmar Salim, Delik Hudalah

Innovations in Service Delivery and Access for Social Inclusion


Financing Local Infrastructure and Public Services: Case of Shaxi Town in Suburban Suzhou, China

This chapter introduces the financing mechanisms for local infrastructure construction and service delivery in a town named Shaxi in Taicang City in suburban Suzhou. Shaxi town is located in the South of Jiangsu Province in Eastern China, near Shanghai. The chapter uses the Shaxi case study to illustrate strengths and weaknesses of local government finance in China and their relevance for other developing countries. As local governments in China play a leading role in investment and financing of public goods, this study begins by analysing the fiscal logic of China’s government hierarchy. Then, taking Shaxi Town as a case study, it provides a detailed description of the various sources of investment and financing available to local governments in China, and the problems different kinds of investment and financing address. Finally, this chapter suggests ways to improve financing, planning, construction, and service delivery for small towns in China at different stages of development from the perspective of overall, systemic reform. The findings should be of interest to local officials and planners involved with town planning in China and other developing countries.
Xu Chen, Min Zhao, Richard LeGates

Urban Governance in Australia: A Case Study of Brisbane City

Urban governance plays an important role in making cities sustainable and inclusive. This chapter provides an account of urban governance in Brisbane City Council (BCC), which is the largest city council in Australia. It focuses on two key roles of BCC: (i) its management role for the provision of urban services, and (ii) its democratic governance role for social inclusion and community engagement. BCC provides a range of services for diverse group of local communities including parks, sporting facilities, libraries, art and cultural amenities. The city has improved its services through e-governance by developing online planning tools for information on urban planning. The strategic plan of BCC aims to be holistic and inclusive with focus on sustainability and inclusiveness. In terms of democratic governance, there are challenges to community engagement partly due to the large size of the council and the top-down nature of engagement. To ensure good governance, the City of Brisbane Act 2010 requires the council to be transparent, accountable, and inclusive, and to deliver sustainable services. As this chapter will show, some of the goals of Habitat III’s New Urban Agenda (NUA) seem to already be a part of urban governance in Brisbane. Nevertheless, we argue that Brisbane still faces major governance challenges, which include the intervening role of politics in urban governance, the development of megaprojects, a growing dependence on the private sector for providing services, the increasing privatization of the public realm and the lack of well organised civil society in the city.
Bhishna Bajracharya, Shahed Khan

Urban Service Delivery and Access: The Special Case of Brunei Darussalam

Brunei Darussalam is the smallest country in Southeast Asia. Wealth derived from its hydrocarbon resources has enabled the state to provide its citizens a high quality of life. A small population also helps to lessen environmental degradation associated with competition for urban space common in fast-urbanizing parts of the Asia-Pacific region. As a hereditary monarchy with embedded Islamic values, the sultanate’s social and political processes are distinct from its neighbours; yet, in many ways, the state’s priority is similar to other governments’, i.e. to provide essential services for building a stable and developed society. Selected examples of service delivery in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam’s largest urban centre, provide clearer understanding of the related issues.
Pushpa Thambipillai, Li Li Pang

Comprehensive Management for Better Rural Infrastructure and Service Delivery: Lessons from the Implementation of China’s Six Point Rural Action Plan in Guizhou Province

Along with the process of urbanization in China, the country has clearly put forward The National New-Style Urbanization Plan to promote the integration of urban and rural development, allow all of the people living in rural areas to participate in China’s modernization and share the achievements of development. Meanwhile, the country has launched lots of policies to promote rural stability, agricultural development and farmers’ income. In 2013, China launched the Beautiful Countryside program to strengthen rural ecology, environmental protection and comprehensive improvement, and strive to build a beautiful countryside. This policy is quite flexible and involves more than aesthetics. It can support rural infrastructure construction, industrial and economic development, improvement of living environments, social and cultural development, and protection of natural, historical, and cultural resources as well as beautification projects. In accordance with the policy requirements, all provinces in China have worked out the implementation plans. Guizhou province is located in South Central China, most of the province’s land (92.5%) consists of mountains and hills, water resources are limited. As a poor province, Guizhou has proposed many policies to promote the development of rural areas over the years, and some of them have made great impact. In 2013, the Provincial Government issued a policy document titled “Promote the Development of The Countryside and Build a Beautiful Countryside—Six Point Action Plan Program for Rural Infrastructure”, which emphasizes improving living conditions in rural areas by promoting roads, drinking water and irrigation, electricity, telecommunications, housing, and the environment. This paper will study the policy and focus on the formulation of the policy implementation and management. The research group at Shanghai Tongji Urban Planning & Design Institute’s China Rural Planning and Construction Research Center launched an investigation of the implementation of Guizhou’s Six Point Action Plan in 2015, they conducted an investigation of the planning and implementation process in 10 administrative villages representative of the variety of villages in Guizhou Province, and obtained a set of comprehensive data. On this basis, this paper firstly introduces the policy objectives and the key projects. Then, it introduces the governance and plan implementation in detail. In the end, the paper summarizes the experience of policy implementation, including breaking down and refining policy goals, paying attention to organization and project management, involving civil society and individuals in projects, providing multiple funding channels, promoting citizen participation and so on.
Haiyan Zou, Feng Luan, Hui Xi, Ben Yang

The Political Economy of Urban Governance in Asian Cities: Delivering Water, Sanitation and Solid Waste Management Services

Cities across Asia are emerging as increasingly productive spaces driving economic growth and enabling social transformation. As their sizes and numbers grow, urban local governments’ ability to consistently deliver widely accessible and efficiently functioning public services is key to sustaining this momentum of positive change. Better understanding the institutional constraints facing cities in doing so is therefore critical. We design and apply an assessment framework to 18 cities across 6 countries in South and Southeast Asia to better understand the functional, administrative, and political dimensions determining the quality and coverage of water, sanitation, and solid waste management services. We find that urban local governments across Asia are constrained in their authority and discretion to deliver basic public services. Reforming intergovernmental institutional structures to better match responsibilities is essential for realizing cities’ full economic potential and meet targets set in the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda.
Jamie Boex, Ammar A. Malik, Devanne Brookins, Ben Edwards, Hashim Zaidi

From Exclusion to Inclusion: The Understanding, Capacity, and Will to Change Local Government Practices

Local governments should be at the frontline of combatting social exclusion. Their proximity to the citizens, and their understanding of the specific needs of the communities they govern, allow them to play a potentially central role in counteracting exclusion. Without undervaluing national and international efforts to counteract social exclusion, it is reasonable to state that local governments too can and should proactively contribute to building inclusive societies. Local governments are already implementing relevant measures, and several are cooperating with other local governments, globally, in this endeavour. What are the key lessons learned from the implementation of collaborative development projects related to social inclusion? Drawing on cases of municipal partnerships between local governments in Sweden and Africa, Asia and Europe, as well as on development projects led by participants in training programmes supported by the Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy (ICLD), this chapter highlights the importance of mobilizing broad support, raising awareness for reform initiatives, and strengthening local government capacity. The projects studied also highlight the value of partnerships, not only for generating new ideas and knowledge, but also for reform initiatives to gain added momentum from being part of global development agendas such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda.
Björn Möller

Emerging Trends and Future Trajectories


Towards Inclusive Urban Governance and Planning: Emerging Trends and Future Trajectories

In recent decades, the pace and scale of urbanization in many developing nations of Asia and the Pacific have been unprecedented. Globalization and neoliberal institutional reforms have accelerated the flow of capital and people into cities. Growing income/wealth inequality in societies across the world, both within cities and between urban and rural areas, has lately also been cause for deep concern. Whilst urbanization’s challenges are broadly common, this book signals the pressing need for seeking contextually appropriate responses founded on the premise of good governance. The enormous diversity within and across countries of the Asia-Pacific region makes urbanization related issues more complex, and attaining good governance and effective planning bedevilling. This chapter reflects upon and interprets the highlights of the book’s earlier chapters to clarify how emphases, approaches, and outcomes of planning endeavours vary across cities, and how their governance forms and reforms have been useful and/or wanting. It draws attention to some disconcerting trends as well as ingredients of success, which could prove instructive across contexts. It concludes by gleaning discernible trends and desirable trajectories for progressing urban governance—decentralization’s impacts on planning institutions and urban governance; prioritizing large infrastructure projects and spatial planning over basic services; advancing the use of technology to improve governance; and continuously enhancing the quality of participatory urban planning and governance. In stressing that outcomes are heavily shaped by the nature and capacities of extant institutions, the chapter reiterates the cliché-sounding importance of understanding and responding to context.
Ashok Das, Bharat Dahiya
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