Joint Session with the Asia Foundation on Economic Development for Inclusive Cities at the 8th CityNet Congress

6 Nov 2017
Category of project: 
Knowledge Exchange and Trainings

Economic Development for Inclusive Cities with Asia Foundation at CityNet Congress (6 November 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka)

In collaboration with the Asia Foundation, GSEF organised a session on ‘Economic Development for Inclusive Cities’ on November 6th, at the 8th Congress in Colombo, Sri Lanka (5 ~ 8 Nov 2017). Various innovative urban initiatives were presented during the session by municipal representatives of Suwon (Korea), Seberang Perai (Malaysia) and Jaffina (Sri Lanka) as well as by urban experts based in Sri Lanka. Below is the summary of the session. Around 30 government officials, civil practitioners, and academics participated in the audience.

The session consisted mainly of two parts. The first part comprised of the case presentations of two cities, Suwon and Seberang Perai. Mayor Tae Young Yeom of Suwon city spoke about the city’s strategy of promoting social economy, starting with the candlelight protest last year in Korea, and the role of city government to protect the citizens’ spirit of democracy and their participation in every step of policy-making and implementation. Their efforts for the democratization of the economy have resulted in the rapid increase of social enterprises and the reduction of social issues such as the lack of employment for youth, people with disability, and the high cost of energy, etc. The second presentation was by Mayor Dato’ Sr Hj Rozali Bin Hj Mohamud, regarding social and economic inclusion of the city. He explained how the city’s 5-year strategic plan was citizen-led and introduced their gender-responsive participatory budgeting as well as the local development plan of New Butterworth region as examples.

The second part of the session was a roundtable of three experts from Sri Lanka who discussed inclusiveness in the development strategy of Sri Lanka 30 years after the end of the war. Consisting of a policy expert, a civic analyst, and a local government official, these three panellists discussed the governments’ preparation of legal frameworks on inclusive social and economic development and came to the conclusion that if the system wishes to fulfill the needs of local communities, local governments should be guaranteed a certain amount of autonomy to build the local foundation and develop inclusive development policies.

In the following Q&A session, city representatives from Bangladesh, Philippines and Vietnam commented on and questionned the two case presentations of Suwon and Seberang Perai in regards to solutions to tackle poverty in the region and discussed the level of citizens’ participation in the governance of public policies, and the level of the central government’s control over local governments’ budget and programs. 



Contents addressed

Part I


Moderated by Laurence Kwark

Tae Young Yeom (Mayor, Suwon City)

Suwon’s participatory policy-making process budgeting and citizen-led governance.

Suwon’s Social Economy Support Center for promoting social enterprises to address youth unemployment and marginalised groups.

Dato’ Sr Hj Rozali Bin Hj Mohamud (Mayor, Seberang Perai)

Seberang Perai’s strategic development plan co-constructed by citizens.

Participatory and gender responsive city budgeting with urban regeneration project ‘New Butterworth Project’ for revitalizing public spaces.

Part II


Moderated by Gopa Kumar Thampi


(Director of Economic Governance, The Asia Foundation)

A. Subakaran (Chief Technical Advisor, Centre for Governance Innovations)

The inclusive development plan of Sri Lanka is well equipped regarding laws and policies. However, the voice of the communities has not yet reached policymakers. To combat this, the regional council should be given more power.

N. Liyanage (Research Professional, Centre for Poverty Analysis)

In the government’s megapolis development strategy, inequality of land ownership becomes an obstacle of inclusive development. The government should be more aware of who must be included in the development strategy and the current situation in the field.

P. Vegeshan (Commissioner, Jaffina Municipal Council)

As a local government officer, Mr. Vegeshan highlighted how peoples’ desire to make a small change at the local level became important after the war. As a result, Jaffina City focuses on equal access to ICT for policy making and administration.