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FUKUSHIMA (Japan): The 4th Asean-Japan Smart Cities Network High Level Meeting kickstarted here Sunday, with Asean highlighting three key efforts in promoting smart and sustainable city development in the region.

Asean Secretary General Datuk Lim Jock Hoi in delivering his opening remarks at the event highlighted that firstly investment in digital infrastructure is critical for smart city development where data can help officials make informed decisions to service their citizens more effectively.

“Robust and integrated central digital infrastructure is necessary to realise excellence in public service delivery, “ he said in his speech which was pre recorded at the event.

He said in this regard, Japan has been supporting Asean through Smart Japan-Asean Mutual Partnership which conducts feasibility studies to help cities determine the appropriate digital infrastructure for smart city development.

Lim also said Asean emphasised on enhancing human capital which is essential to seize smart city opportunities especially when considering various capacities of Asean city in managing smart city projects.

He said many Asean city especially small and middle sized ones, required support of the institutions that could help local government to design and implement smart city initiatives.

“As such, Asean and Japan can collaborate to provide strategic and technical support that helps localities in executing smart city plans,” he added.

Thirdly, Lim said that inclusive community participation is crucial to implement Smart City initiatives, with reaching out to people in problem solving process, which subsequently will help the local government select appropriate solution to various community issues in the respective areas.

Thus, he said this will help to improve the quality of life of those who work and live in the cities.

Lim said pursuing smart and sustainable city development is high on Asean agenda as the regional grouping strive to tackle urban challenges and empower vulnerable communities in those cities.

“In this regard, I would like to commend the government of Japan for their unwavering support towards realising smart city initiatives in Asean,” he added.

Lim said the Covid-19 pandemic impacted every aspect of urban life, and in response Asean member states and cities have continued to transform digitally and sustainably to tackle urban challenges as well as advance their recovering efforts.

“Thus I believe today’s meeting will bring enormous opportunity for members of Asean Smart Cities Network exchange ideas and experiences with Japan in making our cities more liveable,” he said.

The two day 4th Asean-Japan Smart Cities Network High Level Meeting which ends Monday is hosted by Japan ‘s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in partnership with Asean member states and related government agencies and municipalities.

This annual international meeting has contributed to building collaborative relationships in the smart city field between Asean and Japan since its inaugural meeting in 2019.

The high level meeting held at University of Aizu in Aizuwakamatsu, in Fukushima is being attended by delegates from Asean states, besides three media personal from the Philippines, Cambodia and Malaysia. – Bernama

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