Smart Green ASEAN Cities : A New Initiative to Promote Sustainable and Smart Cities in ASEAN

  • November 24, 2021

  • Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, 22 November 2021 – Today, EU Ambassador to ASEAN, Igor Driesmans, ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, Ekkaphab Phanthavong, and United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) Executive Secretary, Preeti Sinha, kicked off the Smart Green ASEAN Cities programme.

Out of ASEAN's population of over 630 million, nearly 300 million people live in urban areas, and more than 25% live in cities with over one million inhabitants. In the next 15 years, ASEAN’s urban areas are expected to accommodate another 100 million people.

‘Middleweight’ cities of between 200,000 and 2 million residents are forecast to drive 40% of the region’s growth. While this expansion reflects the concentration of economic opportunities in urban areas, it also puts high pressure on the environment as well as urban planning for infrastructure and other public services.

The fast expansion and exponential development of mega-cities in Southeast Asia has resulted to significant environmental consequences. Latest UN estimates show that while cities only occupy 3 per cent of the world’s land area, these urban areas consume 75 per cent of the available resources, produce 50 per cent of all wastes, and contributes around 80 per cent of the total carbon emissions. In ASEAN, annual CO2 emission has increased by 6.1 percent, while the amount of wastes generated will increase by 150 percent by 2025, according to the ASEAN Sustainable Urbanisation Strategy.

On top of these, cities in ASEAN are some of the world’s vulnerable to the impact of climate change and natural disasters.
The Smart Green ASEAN Cities programme, funded with EUR 5.1 million by the European Union from 2021-2025, will support ASEAN Member States to anticipate the substantial pressure from the high urbanisation rates by focusing on green and smart solutions through digitalisation and use of technologies.

“The kick-off of the EU ASEAN Smart Green ASEAN Cities programme (SGAC) today elevates the EU-ASEAN relationship even further, entrenching and deepening our partnership to concrete matters at city level, but bound within the spirit of regionalism as an umbrella. The SGAC programme is not only crucial, but also strategic as it aims to support sustainable urbanisation in the ASEAN region, reduce the environmental impacts of urban areas, and improve the quality of life of citizens. Actions contributing to sustainable and smart cities such as the promotion of energy and resource-efficient buildings as well as sustainable and smart mobility are important EU policy priorities and key pillars of the European Green Deal,” EU Ambassador to ASEAN, Igor Driesmans said during the launch.

ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General, Ekkaphab Phanthavong, meanwhile, recognised the growing importance of building stronger collaboration to promote sustainable urbanisation.

“The SMART Green ASEAN Cities Project demonstrates the flourishing ASEAN-EU partnerships on sustainable development. We appreciate the Team Europe’s renewed commitment to support the region through the ASEAN Green Recovery Platform and the Team Europe Green Initiative. With this, I would like to encourage the EU to further support ASEAN Member States and take advantage of this platform in providing both technical and financial assistance to facilitate more effective recovery, build resilience, and promote smarter and greener cities in the ASEAN region.”

ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General, Ekkaphab Phanthavong

United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) Executive Secretary, Preeti Sinha on her part emphasized that.

The Smart Green ASEAN Cities Programme was developed in line with the priority of sustainable and inclusive urbanisation in the ASEAN Community Vision 2025,” said Preeti Sinha, Executive Secretary of UNCDF. “

UNCDF and its partners will make sure that the implementation will contribute directly to the reduction of the environmental and carbon footprints of selected ASEAN cities by enhancing cities' access to finance and smart solutions for sustainable urbanisation, while promoting energy efficiency, reducing air pollution and contributing to the development of a circular economy.”

Preeti Sinha, Executive Secretary of UNCDF

The Smart Green ASEAN Cities programme is implemented by the UNCDF and will facilitate policy development, access to public and private funds, as well as enhance cooperation between cities within ASEAN, and between ASEAN and European cities.

The programme will directly contribute to reduce environmental and carbon footprints of selected ASEAN cities, while promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy. It also targets to reduce air pollution, facilitate transition towards a circular economy, promote the adoption of green and smart city solutions by selected ASEAN cities. The project will feature sharing of experiences and best practices between EU and ASEAN and among ASEAN member countries to strengthen national capacities for green and smart city development.

The Smart Green ASEAN Cities programme is expected to synergise with other ongoing initiatives in ASEAN, such as the ASEAN Initiative on Environmentally Sustainable Cities, the ASEAN Smart Cities Network, and the ASEAN Sustainable Urbanisation Strategy, as well as with the EU-supported SMART CHANGE project which facilitates the cooperation between Jakarta, Bangkok, and Berlin.

About the European Union (EU)

The European Union (EU) is the economic and political union of 27 Member States with a population of 470 million. Together, the EU has built a zone of stability, democracy and sustainable development while maintaining

cultural diversity, tolerance and individual freedom. In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for advancing the goals of peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe. The EU is the world's largest trading bloc, and the world's largest source and destination of foreign direct investment. Collectively, the EU and its Member States are the largest donors of Official Development Assistance (ODA), providing more than half of ODA globally.

The 27 member states of the EU (in protocol order) are: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden.

For more information about the EU and its relations and cooperation with ASEAN, access:
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube

About the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

ASEAN brings together Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam in a community united by a common desire and collective will to live in a region of lasting peace, security and stability, sustained economic growth, shared prosperity and social progress, and to promote the region’s vital interests, ideals and aspirations. To learn more, visit


The UN Capital Development Fund makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 46 least developed countries (LDCs).UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development. UNCDF’s financing models work through three channels: (1) inclusive digital economies, which connects individuals, households, and small businesses with financial eco-systems that catalyze participation in the local economy, and provide tools to climb out of poverty and manage financial lives; (2) local development finance, which capacitates localities through fiscal decentralization, innovative municipal finance, and structured project finance to drive local economic expansion and sustainable development; and (3) investment finance, which provides catalytic financial structuring, de-risking, and capital deployment to drive SDG impact and domestic resource mobilization.

For further information contact: Amadou Sy Communications Officer at UNCDF amadou,; website: