Co-Designing Sustainable, Just and Smart Urban Living through Civic Engagement and Policy Advocacy


Human civilization has reached the stage where society is now led by another wave of industrial revolution that has brought a new frontier of knowledge and application of technology from integrated automatic systems, robotics engineering and artificial intelligence. Their potential applications are unlimited, and have produced a number of technological breakthroughs and innovative solutions to multidimensional, complex problems at the personal, home, business, industrial, social and government levels.

As such, the so-called Internet of Things (IoTs) has enabled people to bring integrated and connected network systems. Many governments at the national, provincial and local levels have high-tech applications and solutions for contemporary governance, administration and procurement and what is not. Thus, there is a profound and fundamental change in the way society is governed.

Somehow this changed the way civil society members must engage in governance issues. Many high-tech solutions and social-business ventures have sprung that could potentially support this digital activism. The challenge is to find the most cost-effective, efficient and transparent ways to involve changing governance structures and community dynamics.

In the meantime, faith, religion and spirituality seemed to have no place in the New Urban Agenda. It almost assumes that cities of the future will be secularized and that urban dwellers will be deprived of their faith, religious and spirituality yearning. Such envisioning seems difficult to grasp or even imagine. Historically, cities have been the locus for the development of faith, religion and spirituality. In fact, many cities of the world have witnessed how they grew and expanded rapidly in urban centers. Furthermore, much of the religious and spiritual yearning and also conservatism and fundamentalism have taken root mostly among the urbanites and the youths in the city.

In the context of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we are also seeing cities and local governments facing insurmountable challenges that many have never seen nor imagined before. We have seen how cities and local governments performed quite well amid the crisis, but also witnessed communities ravaged by the virus across the world.

In view of the above, two events will take place: an NGO Forum and a Mayors’ Symposium, which follow a strong of events that occurred in August 2019 in the City of Solo, East Java. It is expected that these events will serve as a platform for civil society members, academics, community of practitioners and local government officials could discuss and interface one another to achieve sustainable, just and smart urban living.


Goal and Expectation

Both the NGO Forum and the Mayors’ Symposium hope to highlight the unique challenges faced by cities, municipalities and local districts in confronting these new challenges using good leadership practices, creative solutions and innovative policies. It is clear that to develop sustainable, just, inclusive, fair and smart urban living e requires leadership, knowledge, networking, and strong access to relevant and creative technologies that have been created by young people, creative communities, various social enterprises and business companies.

The interface between social actors, academia and local governments is expected to imagine how city life could be co-designed and jointly reimagined to suit the needs and challenges of the contemporary world and future generations to come.


The Symposium

The Mayors’ Symposium hopes to invite local government leaders, civil society actors and academics from both Indonesia and other countries, such as Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, Australia, the United Sates, India and others. The tentative list of local government leaders invited to the event is as follows:

  1. Mayor of Surakarta (Central Java)
  2. Regent of Karangasem (Bali)
  3. Regent of Sleman (Yogyakarta Special Region)
  4. Regent of Lombok Timur (West Nusa Tenggara)
  5. Regent of Sukoharjo (Central Java)
  6. Mayor of Banjarmasin (South Kalimantan)
  7. Regent of Gianyar (Bali)
  8. Regent of Manggarai (East Nusa Tenggara)
  9. Regent of Bantul (Yogyakarta)
  10. Regent of Landak (West Kalimantan)
  11. Regent of Gunung Kidul (Yogyakarta)
  12. Mayor of Mataram (West Nusa Tenggara)
  13. Mayor of Denpasar (Bali)
  14. Regent of Banyuwangi (East Java)
  15. Regent of Bojonegoro
  16. Hezri Adnan, LADA, Langkawi, Malaysia
  17. Dillon Meek, Major of Waco, Texas, USA
  18. Rick Cole, former Mayor of Pasadena, Santa Monica, and Venture, California, USA
  19. Mayor of Melbourne, Australia

Topics in the Mayors’ Symposium may include, but not limited to, the following:

  • Sustainability: public health crisis, pollution (i.e. water, land and air quality and waste management), urban farming, disaster mitigation, sustainable tourism, conflict and crime prevention, etc.
  • Social Justice: children and women-friendly cities, inclusive cities for all faiths and people with different abilities, gender justice, political participation, economic accessibility and livelihoods, etc.
  • Smart City: digital governance, green designs and architectures, hi-tech urban living, small and medium-sized industries, social enterprises and creative economics and communities, innovative policies, etc.