October 4, 2022 - From the October, 2022 issue

U20 Mayor’s Summit: Garcetti and Other Global Local Leaders Share Innovative Sustainability Policies Post Covid

At the end of August, Jakarta hosted the 2022 Urban 20 (U20) Mayor’s Summit, an event bringing together city leaders from around the world to create recommendations for global leaders for the upcoming G20 Summit in November. In this excerpt from the opening ceremonies, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was joined on stage by the UCLG’s Secretary General Emilia Saiz; Governor of Tokyo Yuriko Koike; Mayor of Rotterdam Ahmed Aboutaleb; and Governor of Jakarta Anies Baswedan. Together with video remarks from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, these local officials shared brief insights into what each of their municipalities have been doing to advance climate and housing goals. The entire U20 Opening Ceremony can be found here.


“I've seen the power of cities. I see the innovation that is coming. We're stressed about the future, but I think the answers lie right here.” -Eric Garcetti

"(It is important to find) the balance between the commitment of people individually, but also the collective responsibility that we have. This is where local leaders and local governance can come in. People can do a lot individually, but there is also a common understanding that we need to do public policy to actually shift not only mentalities, but action." -Emilia Saiz

Announcer: In conversations with leaders around the world, everyone seems to be asking the same question: how do we get ahead of the curve? It is indeed a challenge that every country and every business must face. It’s why we're here today making investments in technology and global innovation. Even as we innovate, we also know that a single breakthrough can guarantee success in the world. That's why, in addition to investing in technology and innovation, we're investing in our people.

Next, we're going to begin our second plenary discussion of the day. The topic will be on cities for all, cities for the future: achieving inclusive and sustainable housing, mobility, and energy in urban areas. Let's invite our great moderator: Ms. Emilia Saiz, the Secretary General of UCLG.

Emilia Saiz: Our plenary session has a very long title, but it's actually very simple. It is about showing that what we are asking for and mentioning in our communique are not empty words, but actually based on actual policies that cities are developing around the world.

I'm going to call to the stage the Mayor of Rotterdam, the Governor of Tokyo, the Mayor of Los Angeles, and the Governor of Jakarta.

Welcome Everybody. Thank you for joining us. We have heard several times today that our world is confronting many overlapping crises, but also many opportunities. People are creative. We have solutions for many things, but we also know that we need to accelerate action to transform society in a sustainable manner. We are paying attention to sustainable housing, mobility, and energy today.

I want to start with Governor of Tokyo, our former chair of Urban 20, but also the single city in the world that organized the Olympics during the pandemic. It's a great achievement that you did. Governor Yuriko Koike, Tokyo has been promoting policy under a very strong model, which is “Time to Act.” What does that mean for Tokyo? How does that influence your future policy?

Governor Yuriko Koike: Thank you very much for introducing me and appointing me as the first speaker. I am Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo. Just for your information, Tokyo has 14 million people, and one more piece of information is that we have more than 200 Michelin star restaurants!

Talking about climate change, you asked about how to tackle climate and how to get to zero emission and also about housing and mobility. This is a time to act. There's no other choice. People feel that this is the very last moment to act. Otherwise, we will confront more difficult and more critical situations.

The answer is simple, but I would like to explain a little bit more about what we are doing. Tokyo is implementing policies from the perspective of sustainable recovery. We have experienced such a difficult time with Covid-19. The 1920 Belgium Olympic Games took place right after the First World War and Spanish flu. In the middle of pandemic, Tokyo, with the support of many people and many athletes, we carried out the 2020 Olympic Games.

More concretely, the climate crisis is a challenge that requires a united response by humanity. That is one of the pillars of sustainable recovery. In order to become a zero emission Tokyo by 2050, which we have already announced, we need to transition to carbon-free socio-economic structures in all areas, from business to daily life to urban development.

Talking about buildings, over 70 percent of Tokyo’s carbon emissions originate from buildings. Buildings are used for decades, so that means that new buildings will decide the environmental performance as a city over the long term. We are currently carrying out studies on the introduction of a new scheme that will require certain new houses and other small to medium-sized buildings to install solar panel systems on the roof.

Talking about mobility, we will have all new passengers cars and new motorcycles on sale in Tokyo be zero emission by 2030 and 2035, respectively. In order to have people want to use zero emission vehicles more, we will promote initiatives from the aspects of both mobility and infrastructure. To support the introduction of ZEVs, we are expanding the development of hydrogen stations as well. For Tokyo's metropolitan facilities, we are stepping up efforts to install EV chargers and we will promote the spread of rapid chargers that enable drivers to quickly recharge their cars while on the road. We will also launch grants for their installation in detached houses. Such ways will work to enhance both quality and quantity.

We must take action now. Under the slogan “Time to Act,” let us together immediately confront the growing urgency of the climate crisis. As a matter of fact, I was the National Minister of Environment. When I was a minister, I started the national campaign called Cool Biz. Take off your jacket and take off your necktie to reduce the use of air conditioner. The purpose was clearly to change mindsets, but I think in this stage, only changing the mindset does not work. We have to act more thoroughly and more drastically. Otherwise, we will face more critical situations. The time to act is now!

Emilia Saiz: Thank you very much Governor. Thank you for bringing to this conversation how important it is to find the balance between the commitment of people individually, but also the collective responsibility that we have. This is where local leaders and local governance can come in. People can do a lot individually, but there is also a common understanding that we need to do public policy to actually shift not only mentalities, but action.

We are covering the issue of housing in this plenary as well. I would like to go to Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb now, the Mayor of Rotterdam. Rotterdam has enjoyed a great urban evolution. The shape of the city has changed. It has experienced a lot of new commerce and a lot of people now want to live in Rotterdam. I am wondering how have you been able to make that attractive to people and how have you been able to boost livability in Rotterdam? Is that still a concern and what are you thinking for the future?

Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb: It was and is always a concern. Referring to the last question about acting, we're now in Indonesia, which is mainly a Muslim country. What I know from the Islamic faith is that praying is very important, but acting and doing things is the second very important thing. The phrase from the Quran in English says, “Work, act. God and prophets will witness your work.” It's indeed about acting. I would like to use that entrance to emphasize how important it is for us leaders to act. We have no time to lose and must stay positive in the way we deal with the endeavors of a city.

Going back to 2017, the world witnessed another drama that we seem to have forgotten about. There was the international financial crisis worldwide. In my city, there was a reluctancy among project developers to build houses.

That's the issue when we say the market is leading in housing. We put a very important social issue, which is housing, in the hands of the market, knowing that the market never delivers social policy.

The question is, what is the lesson we draw from 2017-2018 when it comes to housing? The answer of my city government together was we have to make other plans where the city is leading that market. Why? We have the land. We have the regulations of spatial planning. It’s all in the hands of the governments of cities. That's more important than having the money to construct buildings. Second, to continue to protect the ones that need to be protected, who cannot be protected by the market, we need to be building enough social housing.

In the city of Rotterdam, we have some 50 percent of the stock of the houses are social or affordable housing, with a rent up to 730 euros a month. You can also get some subsidies to mitigate that, up to 40 percent of the total rent. You may live in the city with an affordable house more or less than 500 euros a month.

Nevertheless, there is a huge shortage. The city is attractive. People have come in, students especially a lot of international students. We have a shortage of some 80,000 houses for the coming years. The result is the prices are driven higher and higher. That's why we have a huge and ambitious program to continue building affordable housing in attractive environments. We decided to build seven major green projects to make the city more attractive, to reduce the heat stress, and to produce an attractive environment for living in affordable housing. We'll continue that at least 25 percent of all housing built in the city will be social housing. 25 percent is tremendous. That is driven by city policy using the land and the agreement that we have with social cooperation housing, funded by the national government. That's a fundamental right: housing. Without a house, nothing is possible.

That's also the way we tried to fight the phenomenon of people sleeping on the streets, homeless people. We sometimes tend to say that these people want to spend the night on the street because they like it. Listen to me, nobody wants to sleep on the street. The effect of that type of social policy of bringing these people out of the streets, helping them with their mental diseases, and providing decent housing, a doctor, and an income is pretty important to fight the phenomenon of homeless people.

I'm happy to live in a city where that has been reduced over the last 10 years to really a minimum. It's still there, but it’s a small phenomenon. It is really a couple of hundreds of people that we know either by name. That helps us to become a city with that maintains really the minimum standards when it comes to housing. Housing is a very fundamental thing, and we'll continue to do that.

Emilia Saiz: Thank you very much. Many important reflections with your last comment about making people visible. It's very important to know these people by name and to know the issues that they face and make them feel dignified. Also, your references to the market are something that we really discuss with local leaders. There is nothing wrong with the private sector or the market, but everybody has their own objectives. Profitmaking cannot be the only collective effort that we make. Understanding inclusion of people as also profitmaking as an objective is probably one of the great shifts that cities around the world are pushing and giving excellent examples of.

Going to Mayor Garcetti. In this trend of how do we need to deal with the relationship with the private sector, California is one of the great economies of the world. Los Angeles is a great contribution to that. Jobs are a worry for any city. I know that Los Angeles is trying to make the city ready for the future of work. How are you in dialogue with the private sector?

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Mayor Eric Garcetti: Thank you for the question. What an honor it is to be with this esteemed panel. I love this question because we learned so much from Covid. Never let a disaster go to waste. It's interesting that Governor Koike talked about the 1917-1918 flu. By 1919, nobody wanted to say anything about it. They wanted to deny it had happened. Whereas we have an opportunity to actually learn from it and push forward, like the way we saw people supporting small businesses and being pro-capitalist and saw people who were pro-community and knocked on the door of their neighbor to learn their name and to see if they were fed.

I think your question gets to the heart of what this panel is looking at, which is how we live, how we move, and how we power both of those. What role do the public and private sectors have together? From my perspective in Los Angeles and as the immediate past chair of C40, we looked at this moment of crisis and said we have to come out of it with certain values. One, that a recovery can't just be recovery; it has to be a green one. Two, we can't just promote growth. We have to have just growth, especially with women who are great entrepreneurs. When we talk about the private sector, immigrants and women start the majority of businesses in Los Angeles, overwhelmingly.

So, how do we put those values forward and use the tools we discussed? One way is to connect these three things. Connect housing, connect transportation, and connect the environment. I'll give you one example. Los Angeles was built as a wonderful city of the 1960s and 70s when cars were the great innovation. We kept spreading out the land because it was cheaper than building in the city. It was 20 minutes to go anywhere in a car, and we’d build beautiful freeways until suddenly, our traffic became among the worst in the world. We had to change our mentality in the last few years because for 40 years, we haven't built enough housing. We figured we’d just gobble up more land instead of putting two or three or four or five stories up like a normal city.

As mayor, I've changed that zoning, and a full 50 percent of our new housing is built on transit corridors, simply because I said instead of two stories, you can go to ten, as long as you build affordable housing. We've increased our housing threefold and our affordable housing sixfold without any government money. It’s taking advantage of the private sector by saying we have the power to give you space, you give us affordable housing because we have a tremendous homelessness problem in Los Angeles.

Second is looking at what you can do in terms of green building. For instance, Jakarta and Los Angeles are both going to be fully electric with our buses by 2030. That's the promise of this governor and this mayor, and the next governor and the next mayor will implement that. We need a marketplace. We need to show cities collectively that we want these buses to be constructed. We want them to be zero emission. They don't mean much if the energy powering them comes from dirty coal plants or gas plants that compound climate change. We must be voices, whether we control electric companies like I do in Los Angeles or they are private like in Tokyo. We have to demand that that green power powers the green transportation and that we put the housing close to it so that we reduce overall emissions. We connect these pieces.

Finally, I would say, remember the power that's in this room and the power of cities. Cities saved our citizens during COVID. It was local government with good national leadership. It was us going and asking firefighters to do tests and to give shots. It was innovation at the local level. I witnessed that city power that we have when I took 1035 cities, including the four that are up here, to pledge to be at zero emissions onstage in Glasgow. If we put those cities together, it would be the equivalent of the sixth largest country in the world zeroing its emissions out, just by bringing the power of cities together.

I'm very anxious about the future, and I'm very excited about the future. I have a new word. It's called “anxietment.” I've seen the power of cities. I see the innovation that is coming. We're stressed about the future, but I think the answers lie right here.

Emilia Saiz: Thank you very much. We have a video from the Mayor of London that we're going to watch now because I would like this panel to be closed by the Governor of Jakarta.

Mayor Sadiq Khan: It's an honor to be asked to provide this message for such an important event, which has many distinguished guests and speakers. I want to start with a special thank you to the governor of Jakarta, not only for the invitation today and for coordinating the work of the U20 this year, but for his support and brilliant work as part of the C40 network of cities.

We clearly have many big, shared challenges ahead, from recovering from the devastating impact of the pandemic, to the threat of rising inequalities and the climate emergency. I believe our cities have a crucial role to play when it comes to meeting these challenges. In many ways, we can set an example for others to follow as we seek to make a defining difference to the lives of those we represent.

That's what I've set out to do in London by delivering a Green New Deal. This is about driving green innovation and creating jobs. Recovering from the pandemic and going further to tackle the climate crisis are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they go hand in hand. That's why, as the chair of C40, I'm working to support cities around the world to deliver green recoveries. As chair and Mayor, I'm deeply committed to fairness and equality and working collaboratively. Sharing knowledge and best practices in cities and doing all we can to convince national governments to unleash the potential of our cities is key to address the inequality within our cities, as well as between our cities.

I know the U20 shares these principles. I back the call for the G20 to do more to support our cities as we've pulled back from the pandemic and continue to lead the way on tackling the climate emergency. This U20 forum is showing once again, cooperation, dialogue, and the city-to-city diplomacy is essential in the face of adversity. I want to thank all the cities present today to your contribution and commitment to U20 and for everything you're doing to make our cities greener, fairer, and more equal.

Emilia Saiz: If there is a city in the world that knows how important networks of cities are and has put a lot of effort in ensuring that our networks work, it’s the city of Jakarta. It’s our home away from home as for UCLG. What is the role that we can play as groups of cities in providing affordable and sustainable housing?

Governor Anies Baswedan: Thank you Emilia. As we talk about U20s, this is an organization that has members across continents. Looking back a little bit about the history, we used to have inequalities between continents. The gap was wide. Now, inequalities between countries are narrowing. On the other hand, inequality within countries is widening.

It's the same thing with inequality between major cities. For example, Jakarta or Los Angeles or Rotterdam or Tokyo used to have wider gaps between them. Now, when we visit all these cities, we are experiencing narrowing gaps in terms of their economy, infrastructure, and all of that; however, within-country and within-city inequality is widening. The challenge for us in the U20 is now how do we address inequalities that are happening within our cities?

Jakarta is no exception to this. We have inequality, just as in other cities. This is also worsened by the fact that the Indonesian economy is centralized in Jakarta. You can imagine the magnitude and also the magnetic power of Jakarta to everyone in the region for them to come here and make a better living.

Our approach is this: within our community and within our residents, if I may use some of the terms that Mayor Ahmed used earlier, the market mechanism works for those with strong purchasing power. There are developers who are suppliers of housing. Then, there are residents of Jakarta that have purchasing power on the demand side with transactions.

The challenge is more on those with less purchasing power and those with no purchasing power. This is the developing working class and also the poor. For that, government must intervene. We intervene on that market mechanism by creating a program that is called the Zero Down Payment Housing Project. Many of the working class are able to pay a monthly payment, but unable to pay the 20 percent down payment. The government steps in and takes care of the 20 percent now. That's where government intervenes for those who are already making minimum wage or a little bit above minimum wage.

The challenge, then, is for those who are among the poorest. This is where we provide the renting scheme. They rent a house from our facilities. We have built towers and units and they will be renting from us at a rate that is way much lower than any renting outside.

We're also dealing with traditional neighborhoods, which are called Kampongs. These are traditional settings where slums are growing. These are the places where regeneration was addressed in Jakarta by making the Kampongs healthy. Not by abolishing Kampongs, but by nurturing them and making them healthy.

My last point is on banks. Governments must intervene with the banks. Jakarta is an example. Jakarta has among the most expensive property taxes in Indonesia. If we, the city government, are not addressing property taxes, sooner or later, property taxes will be a polite way to tell people to move away for those who are lower income. In Jakarta, we adopted a model in which if the price of your house is below 2 billion Rupiah, then the property tax is zero. That has helped 85 percent of homes in Jakarta to be property tax-free. That is to avoid the poor from being pushed away.

Those are three key components that we tried to address: the formal through market and non-market, the informal through Kampong, and property taxes.

Emilia Saiz: Many of the questions that were in the room in this plenary left us with very important numbers around how the time to act is now. Mayor Garcetti was saying we save lives at the local government level. Care needs to be at the center, even when it is not profitable and when you need to protect people that cannot access housing.

I am very grateful for the governor to bring to the discussion the whole issue around traditional housing and informalities. We need to develop a different relationship with a very big part of the world. We shouldn't forget that a very big part of our cities around the country are now informal settlements, but these are not informal people.

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© 2022 The Planning Report | David Abel, Publisher, ABL, Inc.