Business Assembly

Business Assembly

Pre Forum – Monday, 14 October 2019
08:00 - 17:30
Function Room 7
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Nora Steurer
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Lead Organization
Partner Organizer(s)
Lead Organizer(s)

The Business Assembly is a key session of the Seventh AsiaPacific Urban Forum, bringing together leadership from business, industry, investment, startups and philanthropies from around the region.

It is widely recognised that increased private and commercial investment is needed to fill the sustainable infrastructure gap around the world. Some estimates put the housing affordability gap at USD 650 billion per year or 1% of globalGDP; while the urban infrastructure financing gap sits aroundUSD 2.5 trillion annually.

Urban projects, however, are rarely viewed by investors as aligning with their risk profile, adhering to their time horizons or as having the highest rate of return. For this reason, mobilising blended capital and financial instruments to achieve the urban SDGs is a complex process that is only possible through continued engagement, frank discussion and improved partnerships. At the same time, achieving the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda will not be possible without the key contribution and engagement of the business community.

Building on UN-Habitat’s broadening scope of work with business and existing regional private sector networks, theAPUF7 Business Assembly aims to facilitate this continued engagement, while bringing together key thought leaders from businesses that are decision-makers in the urban space.

The Business Assembly will highlight the role that private and commercial investors play in sustainable urbanization, and emphasise how blended financing models can be used to fill this gap. It will also attempt to facilitate exchanges between cities, planners and private and commercial investors with interest in the urban space.

This Assembly encourages breaking down of the term ‘private sector’ into its each of its contingent stakeholder groups. Considering the diversity and economic strength of the region, the Assembly will have representatives from the following sectors focusing on elements of urbanization:

  • Market intermediaries
  • Equity markets
  • Players in urban regeneration
  • Startups

Thematic Focus

The overarching theme of the Business Assembly is the impending shift towards including urban sustainability metrics in business decisions throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Private finance is central to all five priority areas of coordinated action for sustainable urbanization laid out in the New Urban Agenda including: national urban policies, urban legal frameworks, integrated urban and territorial planning and design, financing and strengthening the urban economy and local implementation. While it is important to gauge how the diverse set of business stakeholders are already implementing the New Urban Agenda and the urban dimensions of the SDGs in much of their work, it is also critical to address the bankability of projects developed in local and regional authorities.

Within this context and from a regional perspective, theAssembly aims to explore:

  • The fundamental shift in private finance and business and industry towards including sustainability considerations in calculating risk-adjusted returns
  • Financial models/ local governance mechanisms that encourage the development of projects that are investment-ready
  • What tools exist or can be developed that encourage investors to invest in the pre-feasibility and feasibility phases of projects, while de-risking investment?
  • Where do the gaps lie in encouraging investors, project owners and projects managers to see the value in an integrated project?

The session will feed into the Cities Investment Platform at the 10th Session of the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi,February 8 – 13, 2020. This ‘pilot’ session will provide the opportunities for city and regional leadership to pitch their sustainable urbanization projects to a panel of investors and experts from across the business/investor space.

Agenda Summary 

9:00 – 10:00 Opening 

10:00 – 10:30 Mayors on Business

10:30 – 10:45 COFFEE BREAK 

10:45 – 11:00 Capital Advisory Platform 

11:00 – 11:30 Thought leaders in sustainability – Back-to-back Keynotes

11:30 – 12:30 Panel 1: Private equity / equity markets

12:30 – 13:00 Open discussion 

13:00 – 14:00 LUNCH 

14:00 – 15:00 Panel 2: Market intermediaries 

15:00 – 15:30 Open Discussion

15:30 – 16:30 Panel 3: Players in urban regeneration 

16:30 – 16:45 Open Discussion

16:45 – 17:00 Closing 

17:00 – 18:30 Business reception 

Agenda Summary 

Think City NGO

Invest Penang Market Intermediaries

Urbanice Malaysia Urban Regeneration

GMO Equity

Kottackal Business Solutions Market Intermediaries

EIX Market Intermediaries

HSBC Amenah Market Intermediaries

Government Link Company (GLC) Equity

ARUP Urban Regeneration

Sime Darby Urban Regeneration

Urban Metry Urban Regeneration

DSH Equity

ESCAP Sustainable Business Council NGO

NGOAsia Mobility Industries Market Intermediaries

Yangon City Development Committee Government

World Business Council for Sustainable Development NGO

UN Global Compact Cities Programme NGO

Gateway LLP Market Intermediaries

Khazanah Nasional Berhad Equity

Objectives of the Session
Introduction of the Topic
Guiding Questions

Market intermediaries (HSBC, Citigroup, WorldBank, IFC)

What is it that they see as challenges?Could an urban SDG compliance certification be used to help de-risk projects and provide guarantees? How can a relevant marketplace be developed?

Equity markets

What does it take for private equity to take an active interest in urban projects? What are the barriers to entry? How do they view risk differently? (Eg. pension funds /sovereign wealth funds)

Players in urban regeneration

What opportunities have they found that are risk and return opportunities? (E.g. Land lease, user fees, renewables, circular, resource management)


Save the date!
Join us at the seventh session of the Asia-Pacific Urban Forum (APUF7) in Penang, Malaysia from 15 to 17 October 2019