14 August 2017 | Manila, Philippines
With the shift on the concept of development from merely economic growth to a holistic, socially inclusive, economically competitive, and environmentally sustainable community, local governments are at the core of the achievement of global development goals as they are the closest to the people. They serve as the link between the national government to the community and vice versa.
Effective cascading targets and implementation of strategies to achieve regional and international objectives for sustainable development would not be possible without local governments.
Their crucial role is not just recognized locally but internationally as well. In the local context, this is highlighted in the 25-year, long-term vision of the Philippines coined as AMBISYON NATIN 2040, which aims to triple real per capita incomes and eradicate hunger and poverty by 2040 through clean, efficient, and fair government at all levels. Meanwhile, the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 propelled local governments in the ASEAN region to be at the forefront in ensuring that the links between local development goals and the regional agenda of the ASEAN are aligned.
In recognition of the local governments’ potential and the need to maximize this potential on a global scale, the Philippines, through the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), City Government of Taguig, and the United Cities and Local Governments in Asia Pacific (UCLG ASPAC), hosted the 3rd ASEAN Mayors Forum last July 26-27, 2017 in Shangri-La at the Fort. This is in conjunction with the Philippine Chairmanship of ASEAN 2017 and the 50th Grand Anniversary Celebration of the ASEAN.
With the theme, “50 Years of ASEAN: Empowering Communities for a Stronger Region,” the event served as a knowledge exchange platform for innovative approaches to improve the quality of life and environmental sustainability within the region in accordance with the ASEAN Connectivity 2025 roadmap – providing cross-border opportunities to our local leaders, enabling them to think outside the box and widen their horizons to achieve physical, institutional, and people-to-people connectivity.
The previous ASEAN Mayors Forums have been hosted by two Indonesian cities: Surabaya (2011) and Makassar (2015). But for this year, Taguig City has been selected to host the event with the city’s ability to manage fast-paced economic growth paralleled with efficient delivery of basic services to its community members – making sure that no one is left behind with all the ongoing economic activities in the city.
Ensuring that no one is left behind towards the achievement of global development goals does not rely heavily on the local governments as they are only one of the key players. The people also need to connect with their local leaders, who need to cooperate and keep in mind that they are doing it all for their community.
Let us all engage ourselves as a united community with one shared identity and one vision: a stronger, safer, people-centered ASEAN!