Mr. Sunghoon Kris Moon, ADB
Ms. Sarah Hui Li, ADB
Ms. Natalja Wehmer, Associate Economic Affairs Officer, UNESCAP
Ms. Soumya Chaturvedula, ICLEI
Ms. Puja Sawhney, EU-Switch-Asia Programme
Mr. Paul Martin, UNCDF
An inclusive city creates a safe and liveable environment with affordable and equitable access to urban infrastructure, social services, tenure and housing. It promotes local economic development, decent job opportunities, transparent governance, multi-stakeholder partnerships and strives to develop a city’s human and social capital. Urban financing should have the objective to enable such an inclusive city. However, most cities struggle to achieve this and are ill prepared for future population growth, especially secondary cities in developing countries.
A weak ‘enabling environment’ prevents city governments from effectively implementing own-source revenue streams, taking out debt or undertaking blended finance investments or PPPs. Further combined with challenges to develop bankable, low risk projects, most cities face significant barriers to access available finance from global financial markets or sovereign funds. However, even with financial accessibility, the resulting initiatives and investment often fail to address the most urgent demands of citizens.
Urban finance solutions generally fall into two over-arching themes. “Trillions” – that is the financing gap for building infrastructure needed for world-class, investible cities. Or focusing on “hundreds of millions” of poor, marginalized, and vulnerable people with unmet basic needs and lacking opportunities. Discussions are vital for the transformation towards sustainable urban development, yet too often occurring in silos failing to develop solutions that are interlinked and holistic. Thus, meaningful partnerships could pool resources and enhance capacity to co-create innovative solutions. Capitalizing on innovative solutions with their potential to increase access to finance and reduce need for collateral, enhance efficiency and transparency, reduce unit costs, increase information, connectivity and reach.