APRU Sustainable Cities & Landscapes Conference Helps Shifting Toward Well-prepared and Resilient Urban Societies
The APRU Sustainable Cities & Landscapes Conference (SCL) 2022 brought dozens of in-person participants together in Honolulu, USA, September 6-9, making it the first in-person APRU program event after a three-year pandemic hiatus. Held under the theme: Climate Risk and Urban Resilience-Challenges Ahead and hosted by the University of Hawi’i at Manoa (UHM), the SCL engaged eleven inter-disciplinary working groups, including the new working group Pandemics, Humanitarian Emergencies & Health led by APRU Global Health Program Director Dr. Mellissa Withers; and two working group sessions held fully remotely which were Urban Landscape Biodiversity and Children, Youth and Environment groups. An on-site student symposium invited students from all levels to present their work and discuss their research with paired mentors. An exciting field trip to Iolani Palace, Bishop Museum and University of Hawaiʻi Community Design Center gave attendees background and knowledge of Hawaii’s historical stories, civic engagement, and community design. The APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Program was founded in recognition of the fact that more people live in the world’s cities than in rural areas today. Understanding the interconnection between human activity, resource use, biodiversity protection and the interdependence between cities themselves becomes truly essential to solving the critical sustainability issues facing the Pacific Rim societies. “It was very encouraging to see how the SCL 2022 engaged over 80 in-person participants plus more than 20 online participants across Asia, North America, South America and Australasia, with the shared aim of highlighting the importance of sustainability to the Pacific Rim as well to the globe,” said Professor Michael Bruno, Provost, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, in his lightning talk on urban oceans. “UHM will continue to fully support APRU activities aiming towards well-prepared and resilient urban societies,” he added. Among the other key attendants was Prof. Makena Coffman, Director of the UHM’s Institute for Sustainability and Resilience, who served as a key organizer of the SCL 2022. Prof. Michael Richards, Associate Vice-President of Research and Dr. Andréanne Doyon, Director of the Resource and Environmental Planning Program from Simon Fraser University, Canada, joined the SCL conference for the first time. Doyon is now aiming to engage further with the SCL program, including by co-leading a working group. The University of Oregon’s (UO) Dr. Yekang Ko, who is the Director of APRU Sustainable Cities & Landscapes, led a group of UO faculty and students to attend the SCL 2022. Ko served as the lead of two SCL 2022 leadership meetings to curate current and future plans of working groups and discuss the next step for the second 5-year plan of the SCL program. The next SCL annual conference will be in Ecuador led by Universidad San Francisco de Quito. Colleagues who attended the conference presented initial ideas for the SCL 2023. More Information Find out more details about the SCL conference 2022 here. Article on University of Hawai’i News here.
October 20, 2022more
The APRU Climate Change Simulation- Preparing Students to Lobby Leaders for Vital Actions
APRU recently completed its second APRU Climate Change Simulation and is now preparing for next year’s simulation, with a new advisory group soon to be appointed. Co-organized by the APRU Global Health and the APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Programs, the APRU Climate Change Simulation is a role-playing exercise in which students form multi-country, multi-disciplinary teams play the role of delegates to the UN Climate Change Negotiations. The 2022 APRU Climate Change Simulation engaged nearly 170 students from 17 APRU Universities in addition to a student group from Fiji National University. Forty-five experts from APRU universities and external partner organizations supported the delivery of the simulations, which are tasked to show ways to limit global warming to well below 2℃ in line with The Paris Agreement. A post-event survey showed that participating students highly appreciated the amount of diverse information on climate change, interaction with people from different parts of the world and the chance to take a very close look at the problems facing each country. “This simulation exercise has brought me to look at climate change in various perspectives in terms of its causes and the possible mitigation actions that are scientifically proven,” said Pedros Marcol Tabulo, a student from Fiji National University. “I will be so happy to share with my family and friends the importance of managing forests, which involves reducing deforestation and stepping up afforestation efforts,” he added. Students have also been grateful for the input they get from the experts who contribute to the simulations. The 2022 APRU Climate Change Simulation saw Ebru Gencoglu, Head of Sustainable Sourcing of Adidas, sharing insights on Adida’s efforts to lower the carbon footprint with new design and production approaches. Bernhard Barth, Human Settlements Officer of UN-Habitat, described how the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing conflicts both reveal and amplify the escalating impacts of climate change. Important expert contributions were provided by Dr. Rhys Jones (Ngāti Kahungunu), the Public Health Physician and Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland, and Dr. Ralph Chami, the Assistant Director, and Chief of Financial Policies at the International Monetary Fund. Their key insights focused on indigenous perspectives and how to fund the climate crisis respectively. On the facilitator side, the post-event survey showed that the participators of the 2022 APRU Climate Change Simulation were impressed by how close it got to actual negotiations. Facilitators also noted that the students were very motivated despite the event being held online. “The value of this type of experience for students is magnificent, as it allows students to appreciate the values of a wide range of intellectual disciplines and a high degree of intercultural sensitivity, tolerance and a global perspective,” said Vivian Lee of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who served as a facilitator. The 2023 APRU Climate Change Simulation will tentatively run in April 2023. The advisory group will be made up of simulation founding members Mellissa Withers of the University of Southern California and Elly Vandegrift of the University of Oregon. They will be joined by facilitators Vivian Lee, Zhenyu Zhang of Peking University and Christina Schönleber and Tina Lin of the APRU Secretariat. “We urge any interested APRU members who want to get their students engaged in this important activity to reach out to us,” Zhang said. “It is an excellent opportunity for participants to improve their communication skills, which is important when negotiating, lobbying or influencing leaders to take the actions necessary to implement solutions to climate change,” he added. More Information Find the webpage of the Student Global Climate Change Simulation 2022 here. View the program of the simulation 2022 here. Read the news in The Fiji Times about the simulation here. View a blog from UO’s student reporter here. To find out more about the APRU Climate Change Simulation 2023 and how your students can engage please contact [email protected]
October 14, 2022more
Students from Tongji School of Medicine Enrolled in the Top 10 Entries of the APRU Global Health Virtual Case Competition 2022
Recently, the “Global Health Virtual Case Competition 2022” hosted by the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) proceeded to its final stage. Team “Arete” from Tongji University advanced to the top 10 of the competition, receiving the great honor of being the only team from China’s mainland in the final this year. Six Tongji University students, namely WANG Kaitao, MIAO Yongen, YAN Le and LIU Tong from School of Medicine (TUSM), and CHEN Yixian and PAN Kunwei from the School of Foreign Languages, made up the “Arete” team. The internationally and annually APRU-hosted Global Health Virtual Case Competition has provided APRU students with an opportunity to practice critical thinking and problem-solving skills through cases and scenarios to help solve global health challenges. The challenge of the case competition 2022 was to build and strengthen the capacity of the health systems in Fiji to better respond to future public health threats, focusing on vulnerable populations. The participating teams were obliged to propose a realistic, well-designed, and innovative solution. A total of 48 teams from 12 major Pacific Rim economies participated in the case competition 2022. Three Tongji University teams (Arete, Tongji Youth Team, Small Jin), made up of twelve students from TUSM (Clinical Medicine, Nursing and Physical Therapy) and four students from other majors (SFL, CAUP, CEIE), registered for the challenging competition to compete against other teams from top leading research universities around the Pacific Rim. By the time these participating teams started to prepare for their entries, they had been confronted with various difficulties and challenges such as stringent containment measures during the worst period of the COVID outbreak in Shanghai, despite which they still managed to do a literature search, completed interview schedules with Fijian students and local transportation workers, conducted liaison meetings on a regular basis, and worked out a wrap-up of the case solution through video shooting and editing. Through uninterrupted efforts in balancing online learning and a non-stop fight against COVID, they completed their proposal on schedule. During that period, they received intensified concerns and support, including guidance from CHEN haibin, Deputy Party Chief of TUSM, who shared the first-hand experience of pandemic prevention and control on West Campus. The International Students Office of Tongji University assisted in contacting Fijian students whilst the School of Design and Innovation, along with the Sino-Italian Institute, gave support for video-making. The Association of Pacific Rim Universities, or APRU, set up in 1997, is a consortium of top leading research universities from various economies of the Pacific Rim. Currently, it has a membership of 60 top research universities around the world, among which 12 universities are from China’s mainland, including Peking University, Tsinghua University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Fudan University, Nanjing University, Xi’an Jiaotong University, University of Science and Technology of China, Zhejiang University, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Harbin Institute of Technology, Sun Yat-sen University and Tongji University. Tongji University has been taking an active part in consortium activities with its commitment to promoting cultural integration and resource sharing, close-knit and deep-rooted partnerships, and further development of an inclusive and efficient platform for international collaboration. View the Chinese version here. Find out more about the Global Health Virtual Case Competition 2022 here.
August 25, 2022more
APRU on The Fiji Times: FNU Students Join Global Climate Change Simulation
Original The Fiji Times Twelve students from the Fiji National University’s (FNU) College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (CMNHS) were part of the Climate Change Simulation Conference in collaboration with the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU). APRU is a non-profit network of about 60 universities in the Asia-Pacific, with the Secretariat based in Hong Kong. This activity is organized by the APRU Global Health Programme at University of Southern California (US) and the APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Program at University of Oregon (US). The APRU Student Global Climate Change Simulation is a role-playing exercise in which students will form multi-country, multidisciplinary teams to play the role of delegates to the UN Climate Change Negotiations. CMNHS Acting Dean, Dr Donald Wilson, said the conference allowed the students to participate and learn with the students from different countries on Climate Change. “The global engagement of our students links well with the strategic goal of the university for student experience and also creates an awareness for our students and staff of the international instruments that are critical to demonstrating the importance of staying connected to the global changes in climate,” Dr Wilson said. “We look forward to more conferences where our students can be part of and contribute towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 13 to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.” The aim of the conference was to describe what contributes to climate change, explain global climate change efforts, such as the Paris Agreement, the UNCCC and the COP, identify adaptation and mitigation strategies and which will have the most impact on global temperatures, explain how/why climate change affects the most vulnerable populations and why it is an issue of social justice. The conference also discussed the practice of global teamwork and cross-cultural collaboration and communication skills, the complexity involved in countries’ decisions, including consideration of factors such as economic impact, negotiating power and the challenges of negotiations among countries on issues such as climate change and the importance of global collaboration. The CMNHS Head of the School of Public Health and Primary Care (SPHPC), Dr Timaima Tuiketei said the University was grateful to be part of the conference. “We are happy to be part of a global initiative to build the capacities of our students and future leaders in addressing Climate Change. At the same time, the SPHPC is committed to strengthening its Climate Change and Health Programme to the overall university contribution to the national and regional Climate Change Agenda,” she said. Third year Public Health student, Margaret Biliki said she became more knowledgeable after attending the conference. “I am privileged to be joining my fellow colleagues for the APRU Simulation on Climate Change this year as an FNU rep, as Climate change is a global issue affecting our environment and our health,” she said. “I am enthusiastic to be learning from a group of diverse disciplines and experts from across the globe in interactive and informative zoom sessions and discussions on causes, effects, and solutions to address climate change issues. “The event will also help me to learn negotiation skills and to enhance my knowledge on climate change issues, a critically important issue for us, as Pacific Islanders. I am looking forward to learning and interacting with students from other universities as well.” The conference had Guest Speakers who spoke on coastal habitats, deforestation, clean energy, trading and offsets, and diplomacy and negotiation skills. Find out more about the Student Climate Change Simulation here.
June 16, 2022more
APRU Global Sustainability: Waste & The City Seminar Course Helps Graduate Students Shape Green Leadership Concepts
APRU successfully concluded its APRU Global Sustainability: Waste & The City seminar course, providing APRU graduate students an opportunity to gain insights how industry and academic leaders from around the world work with key stakeholders in implementing sustainability in their organizations. Delivered via videoconferencing in February-May in a seminar-lecture/ student peer-to-peer session mix, the course investigated a range of topics related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG), Environmental, Social, Corporate Governance (ESG), the linear/circular economy, and urban development. The course was a collaboration between Nanyang Technological University Singapore; the APRU Sustainable Cities & Landscapes Program (led by University of Oregon); and the APRU Sustainable Waste Management Program (led by Korea University). Its format has been closely aligned with the APRU Global Health Distance Education Courses that have been running very successfully for over five years. “As shared in the class, we know that more people want businesses to take concrete actions to address climate change, with the rise of eco-awakening starting to push leaders and organizations to move rapidly toward environmentally sustainable business outcomes,” said Amit Midha, Dell Technologies’s President Asia Pacific, one of the industry expert speakers participating in the course. “Indeed, sustainability and the impact it must have for generations to come is a topic I get often asked about by my children,” he added. Other industry expert speakers were Kirsty Salmon, Vice President Advanced Bio and Physical Sciences for Low Carbon Energy at BP; Clint Navales, P&G’s VP Communications Asia Pacific; and Seung Jin Kim, Project Sourcing and Development Lead of Alliance to End Plastic Waste. “It will take a multi-stakeholder approach to address global challenges such as the circular economy,” said Salmon. She shared that “bp’s ambition is to become a net zero energy company by 2050 or sooner, and to help the world to do the same. This can only happen by working with current and future stakeholders, suppliers, consumers and policy-makers to make this happen”. Subject experts from within APRU included David Wardle, NTU Professor and Co-Chair APRU Sustainable Waste Management; Yekang Ko, University of Oregon Professor and Director of the APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Program; and Yong Sik OK, Korea University Professor and Director of the APRU Sustainable Waste Management Program. Student feedback about the course was very good specifically highlighting the valuable learning experience it offers participants. Academic lead for the development and implementation of the course was provided by Sierin Lim, Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Global Partnerships at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Lim stressed the importance of students across all disciplines gaining green knowledge through active discussions as part of their studies. “Our course aims to equip students with not only the knowledge on sustainability but also the thinking process and implementation in the industry. Offering this course within an international platform such as that on the APRU provides the students with the opportunity to hone their analytical and intercultural communication skills. We are looking forward to develop the course together with our partner universities for the next cohort to bring in new perspectives on sustainability,” Lim said. Find out the previous course description and speakers here. Contact the APRU Program Team ([email protected]) if you are interested to bring your students to the next iteration of the course.
May 20, 2022more
APRU on SJTU News: Shanghai Jiao Tong University Successfully Held the "Resilient Urban Landscape – APRU SCL Webinar & Landscape Architects’Forum"
Original post on SJTU News On April 8, 2022, the “Resilient Urban Landscape – APRU SCL Webinar & Landscape Architects’Forum” jointly organized by Shanghai Jiaotong University, the Alliance of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), and the Shanghai Landscape Architecture Society was successfully held online. The event is held in celebration of the 126th anniversary of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, as well as a member of APRU. It is intended to align with universities, professional associations and practices to call for global attention to environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss may bring significant influences on urban ecological civilization, and suggests to seek innovative solutions with international perspective and local characteristics through international cooperation and communication. The webinar was broadcasted simultaneously on the School of Design official Bilibili account, attracting approximately thousand viewers during peak hours. The event was chaired by Ruan Xing, Dean of the School of Design, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Bart Johnson, Professor of the University of Oregon, James Hayter, the president of International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA), Professor of the University of Adelaide, and Che Shengquan, Professor and Deputy Dean of the School of Design, Shanghai Jiao Tong University delivered academic lectures with a Q&A session afterwards. Luo Peng, Professor, Director of the International Affair Division of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, delieverd an opening speech. He mentioned that after Shanghai Jiaotong University officially joined the APRU in 2019, we participated in various international events and activities, as well as promoting students’ global engagement during covid and other scientific cooperations. Jackie Agnello Wong, director of APRU network and student programs, introduced the background of APRU. It is composed of 61 outstanding academic institutions in the North America, Asia and the Asia-Pacific region. It has a history of nearly 25 years and aims to bring together experts from multiple backgrounds such as leaders, researchers, and policy makers to efficiently solve the problems faced by sustainable development in the 21st century. Her further expressed their heartfelt thanks to Shanghai Jiao Tong University for actively organizing this activity on the theme of resilient urban landscape. Professor Bart Johnson focuses on “Creating and Maintaining Climate Resilient Cities”, calling for active response to the climate crisis to predict future changes and take action before it occurs, explores various strategies to adapt cities to rapid climate change within the framework.With the title of “At the Frontline of Change – 17 Ways Landscape Architects are Contributing Towards Landscape Resilience”, Professor James Hayter proposed 17 corresponding approaches to resilient landscape design, corresponding to the 17 goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and encouraged everyone use the power of design to participate in the contribution of urban resilient landscape. Professor Che Shengquan introduced the framework of sponge city theory and practice through the cases Shanghai Jiao Tong University was involved. The current situation of urban stormwater management in China proposed a stormwater management plan and formed a technical system. At the same time, it was demonstrated and promoted in some cities in China. At the end of the webinar, Zhu Xiangming, President of the Shanghai Landscape Architecture Society, delivered a concluding speech. He believes that many cities in China and the world are facing the challenge of how to deal with the various environmental problems mentioned in today’s lectures. This seminar discussed how landscape architecture planning and design can deal with important issues such as climate change, sustainable development and ecological design, and called on professionals to work towards urban environmental issues, In the future, the society will also strengthen cooperation with universities, jointly promote the integration of production, education and research in design disciplines, provide more high-quality professional resources, and jointly contribute a more resilient and attractive global city of Shanghai.
April 19, 2022more
APRU on Bloomberg: APRU Launches The Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Cities and Landscapes in the Pacific Rim
Original post on Bloomberg APRU (the Association of Pacific Rim Universities) is proud to announce the launch of The Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Cities and Landscapes in the Pacific Rim. The publication is the result of a multi-year collaboration of scholars through the APRU Sustainable Cities & Landscape (SCL) Program activities and engagement within its global network. The handbook addresses a growing list of challenges faced by regions and cities in the Pacific Rim that are fundamental to sustainable development policies and planning practices. These include the connection between cities and surrounding landscapes, the persistence of environmental and development inequities, and the growing impacts of global climate change. This handbook emphasizes the importance of place-based approaches and collaborative, context-specific policies that are specific to the areas where they are being implemented. The publication features a wealth of case studies from the Pacific Rim, enabling a comparative lens and a comprehensive scope to examine innovative policy capacity. The rich cases from the Asia Pacific region support cities in overcoming their need for research and evidence-based actions as highlighted in another report: “The Future of Asian & Pacific Cities published by UN ESCAP and UN-Habitat.” Contributions to the book were made by 128 scholars based in the USA, Philippines, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan, China, South Korea, Israel, Hong Kong, Canada, Thailand, Belgium, Indonesia, India, and Singapore. “This handbook is very much needed, given that much of the scholarly output on sustainable development to date has been developed in Europe and focuses on settings external to the fastest growing areas of the world, such as the coastal regions of the Asia Pacific,” said Dr. Christopher Tremewan, Secretary General of APRU. “This book appeals to scholars, researchers, and students in such disciplines or fields as landscape architecture, architecture, planning, public policy, law, urban studies, geography, environmental science, and area studies,” he added. The APRU Sustainable Cities & Landscape (SCL) Program was established in 2016, hosted by the University of Oregon, and supported by academic experts from 17 APRU member universities. This strong interconnection allows the SCL to draw on the strengths of differences across the region, using different viewpoints to solve urban and sustainability challenges that transcend city and country boundaries in the Pacific Rim. The development of the handbook’s content was supported by the annual SCL conferences in 2018, 2019, and 2020. The SCL Sydney conference in 2019 introduced and foregrounded the significant role of indigenous communities in elevating multi-generational and deeply place-based knowledge and working to increase advocacy and representation among historically marginalized stakeholders. Edited by Yizhao Yang of the University of Oregon, and Anne Taufen of the University of Washington, the handbook targets policymakers and public professionals who require a focused, yet complex understanding of the issues involved in climate action; elected leaders and local officials who are often striving to make connections among the relevant issues and identify opportunities for strategic collaboration; and regional stakeholders who want to see their challenges and successes represented in the studies and analysis that help inform policy decisions. The handbook offers rich teaching materials for classes focusing on sustainable cities and landscapes in fields of urban planning, landscape architecture, and public administration. It bridges academic and policy communities by illustrating the potential for professional development that is scientifically based, integrated across disciplines, and practical for implementation. “The Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Cities and Landscapes in the Pacific Rim is a significant reference volume appealing to readers across the academic and practitioner spectrum. We are delighted to have collaborated with APRU on the publication of this important project,” said Grace Harrison, Routledge Editor for Environment, Sustainability & Product Design. “The book’s editors and section editors have meticulously curated contributions from an international range of researchers investigating key issues facing regions and cities in the Pacific Rim,” she added. The Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Cities and Landscapes in the Pacific Rim is available for pre-order and will ship after March 9, 2022.
April 11, 2022more
APEC Healthy Women Healthy Economy Prize Accepting Applications 2022
The annual APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Research Prize is now accepting applications for outstanding research work that strives to improve women’s health and economic well-being, and charts the way for more inclusive growth. The winning entry will receive USD 20,000 and the two runners-up will receive USD 5,000 each. The prize, first launched during APEC 2019 in Chile with the support of Merck, aims to encourage the development and usage of sex-disaggregated data and promote gender-based research within APEC. As women across the world were hit especially hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those who serve as unpaid caregivers, more research is needed to support solutions and advancements that allow women to stay in the workforce as the world rebounds. “We know that women in the region are overrepresented in industries hit hard by the pandemic—food, services, hospitality and tourism, to name a few,” said Renee Graham, the Chair of APEC Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy. “While our focus is to narrow disparity and improve women’s economic participation, we must also ensure that we pay attention to women’s health, safety and well-being.” Thailand, host economy of APEC 2022, is prioritizing inequality and imbalance this year by integrating inclusivity and sustainability objectives in tandem with economic goals. “To ensure an inclusive recovery from COVID-19, which has disproportionately impacted women and girls, we must implement evidence-based, gender-sensitive policies,” said Kannika Charoenluk of Thailand’s Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. “Original research, backed by data and evidence, will be crucial in ensuring a gender-intentional recovery and future growth model.” Since its inception in 2015, the APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies initiative has improved women’s health through public-private partnerships. One key outcome has been the cross-sector collaboration in creating a policy toolkit—a compendium of the issues, actions, and implementing elements for improving women’s health across five areas. The areas are: workplace health and safety; health awareness and access; sexual and reproductive health; gender-based violence; and work-life balance. Applicants to the 2022 APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Research Prize can be individuals or teams, with the stipulation that one official participant must represent an APEC member economy. Applicants do not need to come from academia, as long as the research is evidence-based and addresses at least one of the pillars outlined in the Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Policy Toolkit. The prize winner may choose to present their research to APEC gender experts in the public and private sectors on the margins of the 2022 APEC Women and the Economy Forum, hosted by Thailand. “Now more than ever, we need to promote research that supports our collective effort in alleviating the economic burdens women face in the workforce,” said Hong Chow, Executive Vice President and Head of China and International of Merck Healthcare. “By using science, we can provide evidence-based information to policymakers and business leaders so that the right measures get implemented to improve women’s health so women can join and rise in the workforce,” she concluded. Interested candidates may access the prize application form through this link. The application deadline is Tuesday, 31 May 2022. For more information, please visit the APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies website or contact [email protected] with any questions. For further details, please contact: Masyitha Baziad +65 9751 2146 at [email protected] Michael Chapnick +65 9647 4847 [email protected]
March 17, 2022more
APRU on AP, AFP, Yahoo! Finance, Morningstar, BusinessWire, NBC & FOX channels, NHA & 200+ pieces of coverage: APRU launches The Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Cities and Landscapes in the Pacific Rim
APRU (the Association of Pacific Rim Universities) is proud to announce the launch of The Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Cities and Landscapes in the Pacific Rim. The publication is the result of a multi-year collaboration of scholars through the APRU Sustainable Cities & Landscape (SCL) Program’s activities and engagement within its global network. The handbook addresses a growing list of challenges faced by regions and cities in the Pacific Rim that are fundamental to sustainable development policies and planning practices. These include the connection between cities and surrounding landscapes, the persistence of environmental and development inequities, and the growing impacts of global climate change. This handbook emphasizes the importance of place-based approaches and collaborative, context-specific policies that are specific to the areas where they are being implemented. The publication features a wealth of case studies from the Pacific Rim, enabling a comparative lens and a comprehensive scope to examine innovative policy capacity. The rich cases from the Asia Pacific region support cities in overcoming their need for research and evidence-based actions as highlighted in another report: “The Future of Asian & Pacific Cities published by UN ESCAP and UN-Habitat.” Contributions to the book were made by 128 scholars based in the USA, Philippines, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan, China, South Korea, Israel, Hong Kong, Canada, Thailand, Belgium, Indonesia, India, and Singapore. “This handbook is very much needed, given that much of the scholarly output on sustainable development to date has been developed in Europe and focuses on settings external to the fastest growing areas of the world, such as the coastal regions of the Asia Pacific,” said Dr. Christopher Tremewan, Secretary General of APRU. “This book appeals to scholars, researchers, and students in such disciplines or fields as landscape architecture, architecture, planning, public policy, law, urban studies, geography, environmental science, and area studies,” he added. The APRU Sustainable Cities & Landscape (SCL) Program was established in 2016, hosted by the University of Oregon, and supported by academic experts from 17 APRU member universities. This strong interconnection allows the SCL to draw on the strengths of differences across the region, using different viewpoints to solve urban and sustainability challenges that transcend city and country boundaries in the Pacific Rim. The development of the handbook’s content was supported by the annual SCL conferences in 2018, 2019, and 2020. The conferences facilitated collaboration among contributors and helped maintain the momentum to keep the work on track. The safeguarding of momentum has been extremely important, given that much of the book’s content-development period took place after the pandemic had started. Multiple meetings of the SCL steering committee helped shape the handbook’s scope and supported the important activities that have ensured its quality. Leaders of the SCL Working groups were invited and engaged to invite contributors and circulate the call. Some chapters emerged from applied local design workshops with students and some were refined by the SCL-led online workshops that prepared participants for the online conference hosted after the pandemic had started. The SCL Sydney conference in 2019 introduced and foregrounded the significant role of indigenous communities in elevating multi-generational and deeply place-based knowledge and working to increase advocacy and representation among historically marginalized stakeholders. Edited by Yizhao Yang of the University of Oregon, and Anne Taufen of the University of Washington, the handbook targets policymakers and public professionals who require a focused, yet complex understanding of the issues involved in climate action; elected leaders and local officials who are often striving to make connections among the relevant issues and identify opportunities for strategic collaboration; and regional stakeholders who want to see their challenges and successes represented in the studies and analysis that help inform policy decisions. The handbook offers rich teaching materials for classes focusing on sustainable cities and landscapes in fields of urban planning, landscape architecture, and public administration. It bridges academic and policy communities by illustrating the potential for professional development that is scientifically based, integrated across disciplines, and practical for implementation. “The Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Cities and Landscapes in the Pacific Rim is a significant reference volume appealing to readers across the academic and practitioner spectrum. We are delighted to have collaborated with APRU on the publication of this important project” said Grace Harrison, Routledge Editor for Environment, Sustainability & Product Design. “The book’s editors and section editors have meticulously curated contributions from an international range of researchers investigating key issues facing regions and cities in the Pacific Rim,” she added. The Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Cities and Landscapes in the Pacific Rim is available for pre-order and will ship after March 9, 2022. Please see details here. Contacts Jack Ng, Director, Communications, APRU [email protected]
February 24, 2022more
APRU on The Jakarta Post: A Mounting Battle that Starts at Home
Original post on The Jakarta Post Both at home and abroad, plastic waste is a mounting problem that is not going to disappear on its own. The United Nations estimates that 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into the ocean worldwide each year, with Indonesia contributing upward of 600,000 tons of marine plastic pollution according to the Indonesian Institute of Sciences. These levels are reported to make Indonesia the second largest marine plastic polluter after China. If this continues unchecked, the problem will only continue getting worse, especially during a pandemic where we rely on single-use plastic items such as takeaway cutlery and essential personal protective equipment gear like masks and gloves. There is no doubt the pandemic places huge pressure on waste infrastructure. According to UNEP, medical waste in the form of disposed COVID-19 tests and IV bags in Jakarta has risen by a staggering 500 percent, far outstripping the capacity to incinerate or sterilize it as required by law. Other Asian cities have reported similar spikes in plastic waste. While the Indonesian government has stated goals to triple the nation’s capacity to collect plastic waste by 2030, local leaders can – and must – take initiative to battle this growing crisis on the municipal level now. As highlighted by key members of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Sustainable Waste Management Program including program director Yong Sik Ok of Korea University and Tsinghua University’s Xiaonan Wang, closing the plastic loop rests urgently on the collaboration of governments, researchers and industries toward intelligent design. So how do we begin on the local level? Knowledge sharing is an essential way forward and there are different lessons that can be learned from our neighboring peers. Through the Asia Pacific Mayor’s Academy organized by 6 collaborators including APRU and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), leaders from different cities across the region came together to discuss urban challenges and share solutions that may be applicable to different scenarios. The stories of a plethora of cities rebounding during unprecedented times sheds light on emerging possibilities to rebuild. Looking toward the Philippines in Ormoc city, multi-stakeholder engagement from different levels of government and the private sector along with NGOs and the public was a key to alleviating the city’s significant waste management issues. The implementation of a more integrated solid waste management system and single-use plastic products regulations ordinance was supplemented with complementary measures such as projects aimed at tackling marine waste to support healthy oceans. Besides launching new programs and engaging stakeholders, Ormoc has also emphasized smart green technology while looking out for new financing mechanisms that can supply the capital needed to fund the city’s burgeoning sustainability programs. Not only is this positively impacting the plastic waste problem, the multifaceted approach is driving a holistic Resilient and Green Recovery Plan focused on realizing a circular economy. This not only creates better livelihoods and standards of living for locals today with a cleaner and more efficient city, the new green infrastructure is seen as a way to help safeguard the city moving forward and secure its longevity. With clearly articulated objectives by the Ormoc mayor’s office, different parties across a range of industries can better understand how to progress their businesses while moving cohesively toward common goals that better society. An example of how industries have been forced to innovate in the wake of COVID-19 while tackling the rising plastic issue can be found in Koh Tao, Thailand. As tourism declined drastically during the pandemic, the island’s dive boats and tour operators lost the lifeblood of their businesses. To assist people seeking work, Koh Tao was able to secure funding that put people from the tourism and transport industries cleaning up the island. In addition to cleaning up marine waste while giving people an income during the height of the pandemic, the program also provided life skills with financial literacy training from company sponsors. This temporary measure is just one solid example of how a cleverly designed initiative can fulfill a variety of needs during a time of need. But while it’s important to tackle immediate problems (such as unemployment), it is also essential to focus on not just restoring the status quo, but doing so in a forward looking manner. Koh Tao leveraged the forced absence of tourists as an overdue opportunity to explore how best to implement a “Smart Island” sustainable tourism model. By factoring environmental impact more prominently into their operations, Koh Tao is forging a path that better manages natural resources and protects biodiversity while providing economic opportunities and stability to its citizens. For an economy that heavily depends on tourism, there was tremendous wherewithal and leadership needed to evaluate how to keep families afloat while also rebooting and rebuilding the economy with a more resilient and sustainable model. With Indonesia taking strides to address plastic waste with ambitious measures, it’s clear that there must be great participation and education across all levels of society and a wave of innovative solutions. There are reasons for optimism. It’s been reported that the Environment and Forestry Ministry has recently pushed producers to upcycle and repurpose waste raw material from trash banks into useful items. Such actions can go a long way towards realizing better waste management in a greener circular economy.
October 18, 2021more
APRU Student Global Climate Change Simulation Tackling Climate Change Head-On
In time for the upcoming COP26 meetings, 120 dedicated APRU students from across the Asia Pacific region and close on 40 expert speakers and facilitators from within and outside the APRU network contributed to and concluded the first APRU Climate Change Simulation. The 3-session is a role-playing exercise in which students formed multi-country, multi-disciplinary teams to slip intothe roles of delegates to the UN Climate Change Negotiations. The APRU Student Global Climate Change Simulation uses materials from Climate Interactive and the EN-ROADS simulation model developed by MIT. Live sessions and breakout room-discussions were supplemented with keynote presentations by experts from the IMF, adidas, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, short lectures from key experts across the network and other materials developed and curated by the APRU expert team. On the long list of intriguing topics were indigenous knowledge, planetary health, public health, coastal habitats, deforestation, clean energy, trading and offsets, as well as diplomacy and negotiation skills. APRU envisions the event to be the first of many activities to develop a network of committed citizens who tackle climate change head-on. “The opportunity to work across different disciplines, places and perspectives as part of this negotiation simulation wasa rare chance for students to learn about the complexities of developing solutions to urgent global challenges, the largest of which is climate change,” said Kathryn Bowen, Deputy Director of Melbourne Climate Future, University of Melbourne. Kristie Ebi, Professor at the Center for Health and the Global Environment, University of Washington, also one of the sixteen participating APRU experts actively facilitating the negotiations and discussions, added that “the APRU Student Global Climate Change Simulation represented a call to taking collective action against global warming.” The APRU Student Global Climate Change Simulation was co-organized by the APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Program housed at the University of Oregon and the APRU Global Health Program housed at the University of Southern California. External partners include Adidas, Rebalance Earth, Smart Energy Connect-CLP, Tuvalu Mo Te Atua, UN Habitat and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The participating students gave their thumbs up. For instance, Annette Benger, who studies Masters of Environment at Melbourne University, shared that the event has taken her understanding to the next level. “In my lectures on Sustainability and Behaviour Change, we are discussing the role of selfishness and altruism in human nature,” Benger said. “It is so easy to see so much selfishness, until you come across something like this, and we are all planning to keep in touch in our WhatsApp group,” she added. The APRU Student Global Climate Change Simulation also impressed its facilitators, with Tze Kwan, Research Associate, Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions, National University of Singapore, labelling the event “super”successful. “I am honoured to be part of this and to have had the opportunity to share my interests with the participants,” Kwan said. “This event was such a valuable learning opportunity, making me hope more students will get to attend and be inspired to act in face of climate change,” she added. The APRU Partner Universities involved in the Student Global Climate Change Simulation are Monash University, Nanyang Technological University, Peking University, Tecnológico de Monterrey, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, The University of Auckland, The University of Melbourne, Tohoku University, Universidad San Francisco De Quito, Universiti Malaya, and University of Washington. Find out a featured article from University of Southern California, here. Find out a post-activity report from University of Oregon here. Read students’ feedback from a CUHK article here.
September 16, 2021more
APRU on SCMP: Banning Plastic Cutlery Is Only One Part of Hong Kong’s Sustainability Challenge
Hong Kong can look to other cities to find better ways to manage plastic and other waste, use the lull in visitors to explore more sustainable forms of tourism and invest in workforce training for a more circular economy Original post on SCMP The public consultation in Hong Kong on the scheme to regulate disposable plastic tableware has sparked debate among green groups clamouring for faster action and more stringent measures. The scheme comes as sustainability demands our attention more than ever. Everyone can see how pollution has worsened during the pandemic as plastic waste plagues Hong Kong in ever more concerning amounts. Many other places are waging similar battles, as waste management systems across Asia-Pacific cities are overwhelmed with lockdowns and quarantines, forcing people to rely on deliveries and takeaways. Our reliance on plastic may be ingrained but we all know it’s a ticking time bomb that needs defusing. While this environmental cost looms large, the immediate concerns of many have understandably been focused on rebuilding post pandemic, with key industries such as tourism, aviation, hospitality and more upended. There is hope that we can secure Hong Kong’s future if we start tackling the problems today. The plastic cutlery scheme represents an important step forward – even if it may not go far enough, we need the positive momentum to build on. We need our local leaders to fix community issues to rebuild a more resilient city after Covid-19. How do we chart the best way forward? Inspiration from our peers may help. At the Asia-Pacific Mayors Academy, organised by the Association of Pacific Rim Universities and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), among others, I saw different mayors share their best practices. While each city faces unique circumstances, sustainable development can be adapted to local challenges as common threads hold true. For example, for Ormoc city in the Philippines, collaboration between the national and local government, private partners, NGOs and the public became a key to unlocking its holistic approach to battling waste issues. From building a more integrated solid waste management system and instituting a single-use plastic products ordinance, to healthy ocean projects that reduce marine waste, Ormoc engaged different stakeholders and used smart, green technologies and different financing mechanisms. These measures feed back into Ormoc’s Resilient and Green Recovery Plan to build a circular economy to uplift citizens and reduce vulnerabilities to crises. Some might feel Hong Kong needs to do more to clarify its sustainable development plan and how all the moving parts, such as the latest scheme, feed into it. Only with clear, measurable goals and a well-thought-out, multi-stakeholder engagement strategy can the city better educate people on how to effectively take part. While plastic waste during Covid-19 has been a massive issue, there are instances where the challenge was turned into an opportunity. For Koh Tao in Thailand, the pandemic reduced the popular dive destination’s daily visitors by over 90 per cent, leaving many struggling to find work. To help, the island secured funding to pay out-of-work tour boat operators and taxi drivers to clear waste from the beaches and waters. Not only did the community benefit from a cleaner environment and a source of income during challenging times, the programme also trained participants in financial literacy, courtesy of corporate sponsors. Now, Koh Tao is working on a “smart island” sustainable tourism model that would better manage its natural resources and biodiversity, economic stability and safety. Hong Kong is experiencing a pandemic-induced tourism lull. Is there a better way for us to operate once tourists return in numbers? Can we better use this time to invest in retooling people who are struggling? There is untapped potential for businesses and the workforce to thrive in a more circular economy– we just need to relentlessly foster the right capabilities and skill sets. Every city needs a cohesive vision as well as coordination and buy-in across different levels of society. We need to be on the same page about our collective problems and be engaged in debate over ways to address them. Prevention is better than cure. We need pragmatic, forward-looking solutions. The last thing we want is to burden future generations with our half-solved (or unsolved) mess.
August 31, 2021more
APRU on Associated Press: APRU partners with United Nations ESCAP on The Asia Pacific Mayors Academy to Empower Mayors as Regional Leaders for Sustainability with Training Tailored to Unique Urban Challenges for a More Resilient Future
Original post in Associated Press. Co-organised with UN-Habitat, UCLG ASPAC, UNU-IAS, and IGES, the Academy helps regional city mayors to lead inclusive and sustainable future cities development and navigate challenging times in light of COVID-19 Held from November 2020 through May 2021, the second cohort of The Asia Pacific Mayors Academy recently concluded with a final module that saw 16 mayors participate from Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. For this capstone sixth module, the Academy focused on exploring future pathways to financing sustainable urban projects. Organised by six collaborating partners, The Asia Pacific Mayors Academy was launched in 2019 by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and United Cities and Local Governments Asia-Pacific (UCLG ASPAC) in cooperation with the United Nations University, Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) and APRU (the Association of Pacific Rim Universities). Under the expertise of a faculty including regional experts from the APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Program, the Academy engages newly elected or appointed city mayors in Asia-Pacific to increase their understanding and application of sustainable urban development tools, resources and technical solutions. Together, this multi-stakeholder network of local leaders explores scenarios with specific challenges as well as relevant case studies to facilitate plans for sustainable solutions in their communities. For example, in the sixth module, the Academy discussed leveraging urban land value, co-creating private sector innovation, and promoting polluter-pay solutions to create long-term value for citizens, businesses, and the environment. Chris Tremewan, Secretary General of APRU, “APRU university experts work with city leaders and multilateral organizations to strengthen sustainable city development and to develop concrete plans for urban solutions. We are honoured to be one of the partners of the Academy. These specialised training sessions and knowledge exchanges have been invaluable during COVID-19 as we collectively respond to the crisis. We need to do everything we can to put cities on the path to recovery.” Stefanos Fotiou, Director, Environment and Development Division, ESCAP, “By drawing on multi-disciplinary members from across the Academy’s network, this unique and inclusive initiative supports mayors and the critical role their cities can play in realising the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Paris Climate Agreement. Starting local is essential to sustainability progress across the region, and it begins by addressing urban problems with smart sustainable solutions.” The Academy offers a robust curriculum including modules on Cities 2030 – Designing, Planning and Managing Sustainable Urban Development and COVID-19 Response and Recovery in hopes to see strengthened regional cooperation and mayors applying learnings to generate positive outcomes in Asia Pacific cities. To find out more: https://www.asiapacificmayorsacademy.org/call-for-expressions-of-interest
June 24, 2021more
APRU Virtual Webinar Series Helps Mastering Remote Teaching Challenges
A 12-session virtual workshop series developed jointly by the APRU Global Health Program’s Global Health Education and Technology Working Group at the University of Southern California and the Global STEM Education Program at the University of Oregon has grown into an effective platform providing important support for higher education staff, cushioning the impact of COVID-19. The creation of a peer-to-peer learning platform to exchange ways and knowledge on teaching in virtual environments became a pressing issue, as the pandemic forced the academic community to move fully to online teaching. Launched in August 2020 and scheduled to run until June 2021, the APRU Teaching in Virtual Environments Webinar Series addresses everyday educational problems, such as how do adjust safeguards for course exams. Underlining the series’ significance, it will be highlighted as a case study in a publication expected to be published later this year by the Spring Nature. “We designed these sessions to respond to the immediate need of providing remote teaching resources to faculty within the APRU network, and they have surpassed all of my expectations with a truly global faculty community,” said Elly Vandegrift, program director for Global Science Education Initiatives in the Division of Global Engagement at the University of Oregon. “Our work together strengthens and builds resiliency within our global higher education community to respond to future educational challenges,” Vandegrift adds. The APRU webinar series, moderated and led by Prof Vandegrift are conducted in 90-minute sessions and structured around specific faculty experts sharing their evidence-based practices that they adopted to online teaching. In the webinars’ breakout rooms, participants from different regions with different technology infrastructure share how they overcome the respective challenges. In conclusion the webinars return to a full group discussion to share insights learned and best practices shared across the diverse group. “We have collectively learned how many similar challenges students and faculty have faced during the pandemic and together explored ways to adapt global solutions to our local teaching and learning contexts,” highlights Mellissa Withers, program director APRU Global Health Program at the University of Southern California. The webinars support and complement other APRU Global Health Program events. The seven sessions that have been held so far involved participants from 92 institutes representing 19 economies. For upcoming webinars in this series visit https://apru.org/our-work/pacific-rim-challenges/global-health/
April 7, 2021more
Winners of the 2021 APEC Healthy Women Research Prize
Issued by the Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy Announced during the APEC Women and the Economy Forum on September 24, 2021, the winner and two runners-up for the 2021 APEC Healthy Women Healthy Economies Research Prize are listed here. The winning team is co-authored by Mr. Chen-Wei Hsiang, PhD student at University College London; Dr. Ming-Jen Lin, Distinguished Professor of Economics at National Taiwan University; Dr. Kuan-Ming Chen, Post-Doctoral Fellow at the United States’ National Bureau of Economic Research. Runner-up: Dr. Ying Yang, Associate Professor at China’s National Institute for Family Planning Runner-up: Ms. Nurliyana Binte Daros, Lecturer at Nanyang Technological University Find out the news release here and more information about the prize below. Applications are now open for the 2021 APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Research Prize. The prize rewards researchers who spur the creation of sex-disaggregated data and gender-based research in APEC. Launched in 2018 by President Sebastián Piñera of Chile with the support of Merck, the research prize seek for outstanding research work that will provide policymakers and business leaders with the tools they need to implement measures that improve women’s health and well-being so women can join, rise and thrive in the workforce. “Robust data and evidence are the foundation of sound policymaking,” said Renee Graham, New Zealand’s Secretary for Women and Chair of APEC’s Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy. “The gendered impacts of COVID-19 make the call for data and evidence all the more important, as we look to ensure women are fully incorporated into, and benefit from, the economic recovery from the pandemic.” Last year, the inaugural research prize was awarded to Dr Fanghui Zhao, a director at the National Cancer Center and Cancer Hospital with the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, whose winning research looks at ways to make cervical cancer prevention more accessible and affordable for people in lower-middle income economies. Dr Lih Rong Wang of Chinese Taipei and Dr Dorothy Chan of Hong Kong, China were the two runners-up for the 2020 prize. Applicants to the 2021 APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Research Prize can be individuals or teams with one leader listed as official participant from an APEC member economy. Applications for the 2021 research prize are due on 31 May 2020. Applicants do not need to come from academia, as long as the research is evidence-based and addresses at least one of the pillars outlined in the Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Policy Toolkit, such as: workplace health and safety health awareness and access sexual and reproductive health gender-based violence work/life balance The prize winner will receive USD 20,000 and have the opportunity to present the research to APEC gender experts in the public and private sectors on the margins of the 2021 Women and the Economy Forum, hosted by New Zealand. Two runners-up will receive USD 5,000 each. “COVID-19 has exacerbated gender inequalities across a range of women’s health issues, making sex-disaggregated data and gender-based research essential for today’s policymakers,” said Liz Henderson,Regional Vice President, Merck Biopharma Asia Pacific. “To truly unlock the economic potential of women, we must first empower women by promoting policies that improve their health outcomes.” “It is important to make available sex-segregated data, especially in the services sector where women’s participation is high and which have been affected by the pandemic,” explained Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat. “Good sex-segregated data will contribute to the development of policies that are effective, equitable and beneficial.” Since established in 2015 the Healthy Women, Healthy Economies initiative aims to identify and implement policies that advance women’s health and well-being to support their economic participation. To submit your application form, click here. The deadline to submit applications is 31 May 2020. For more information, please visit the APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies website or contact [email protected] with any questions. For further details, please contact: Masyitha Baziad +65 9751 2146 at [email protected] Michael Chapnick +65 9647 4847 at [email protected]
March 3, 2021more
APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Policy Dialogue
The Asia-Pacific region lags behind other global regions with respect to women’s health and economic participation. Sustainable economic growth cannot be achieved if women, who consist half of the workforce, are unable to fully participate in the economy due to health implications. Since 2014, APEC’s Healthy Women, Healthy Economies (HWHE) initiative convenes government (health, labor, gender officials), private sector, academia and other interested stakeholders to raise awareness and promote good practices to enhance women’s economic participation by improving women’s health. A virtual APEC HWHE Policy Dialogue will be held on March 2, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. (EST) / March 3, 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. (SGT). A number of high-level speakers from across government, academia, and the private sector will be participating as speakers in the event. The objective of this policy dialogue is to share how public and private stakeholders across the APEC region can ensure women are not left behind, especially given the impact of COVID-19, as well as to identify and discuss the long-term societal risks if we do not build back better. We hope this policy dialogue will help stakeholders – especially those who might not ordinarily consider gender in their line of work – understand why it is vital to construct a COVID-19 recovery effort that takes into consideration the unique ways women have been impacted by the pandemic. Register now to join the policy dialogue on March 2nd/ 3rd.
February 19, 2021more
4th SCL Conference mastered shift from face-to-face to virtual, new survey shows
The 4th APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes (APRU-SCL) Conference and PhD Symposium held 14th-18th December 2020 received an overwhelmingly positive feedback from academics and students for serving as a highly valuable platform for the exchange of insights between peers from across the Pacific Rim. 91.7% of respondents in a recently completed survey said they would like to continue engagement with their working groups in 2021 while 75% would be interested in joining the 5th APRU-SCL Conference in Hawai’i in person in 2022. The 4th SCL Conference and PhD Symposium were held virtually, with the survey’s stellar approval rates illustrating that the new conceptualization and pioneering approaches to empower attendees to fully engage in many different formats of interactions has worked out very well. For the host institution, the Future Cities Research Hub at the School of Architecture and Planning of the University of Auckland, the event represented the first fully virtual conference of this kind and size. “The strong financial support from the senior management, faculty and school made this successful shift to an online format possible,” said Christina Schönleber, APRU’s Senior Director (Policy and Programs). “It enabled attendees to participate in live panel discussions, set up one-on-one meetings with other attendees, participate in group networking and watch keynotes from presenters, with a total of 56 funded registrations for PhD Students, Early Career Academics, Postdocs and academics from developing countries” added Paola Boarin, Conference Director. The APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Program was launched to address the urgent necessity of understanding and managing the interconnection between cities and their surrounding ecology in the face of unprecedented population growth and climate change. The 4th SCL Conference was structured around eleven working groups, as well as plenaries, keynotes, interactive happy hours and virtual tours, attracting 152 participants from 21 economies. The opening keynote was given by the University of Auckland’s Associate Professor Damon Salesa, followed by keynotes and panel discussions on Indigenous Knowledge and Wisdom (given by Dr Rhys Jones, Senior Lecturer in Māori Health at the University of Auckland) and on SDGs in post-pandemic cities in New Zealand and Across the Pacific (given by Bernhard Barth, Human Settlements Officer at UN-Habitat’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific). The seven panelists — from Māori experts to policy makers — encouraged in-depth thinking on cultural traditions and methods to build back better. A two-days PhD student symposium was offered for the first time this year. The event allowed students to present their research that relates to the topics of the working groups and the SDGs. In total 24 PhD students from across the Pacific Rim were accepted in the Symposium. Yao Ji from Keio University won the best paper award for her paper titled” Remaking the rural: Alternative forms of revitalization in post-growth Japan”. Click here to know more about the conference.
January 11, 2021more
14th APRU Global Health Conference 2020 records massive virtual reach
APRU held its annual 2020 Global Health Conference October 19-21, expanding the APRU Global Health Program’s knowledge-sharing and member-engagement through the network. The 14th APRU Global Health Conference was the first APRU program conference conducted virtually, and it also was the APRU conference with the widest reach, attracting nearly 1,500 contributors and participants from 39 APRU member universities and over 300 external partners across 53 economies. In line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, the conference this year focused on the theme Universal Healthcare across the Life Course. The two keynote speeches were held by Dr Margaret Chan, Inaugural Dean of Tsinghua University’s Vanke School of Public Health and Emeritus Director General of WHO, and Alejandro Gaviria, President of Universidad de los Andes and former Minister of Health and Social Protection, Colombia. “When the WHO was founded in 1947, new diseases were rare, as people travelled internationally by ship and news travelled by telegram, but since then profound changes have occurred in the way humanity inhabits the planet,” Chan said. “Today, very few health threats are local, and climate change, population growth, rapid urbanization, intensive farming practices, environmental degradation, and misuse of anti-microbios are challenges that have disrupted the micro-bio world, leading to a dramatic increase of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases around the world,” she added. The third prominent speaker was Dr Ren Minghui, the WHO’s Assistant Director-General, Universal Health Coverage/ Communicable and Noncommunicable Diseases. A panel on migration (focusing on immigration in Ecuador, wellbeing of the migrant care workers in Taiwan, and personal story sharing on human trafficking in Philippines) and women (focusing on women’s voices maternity care in the SDG era, case studies in Malawi and China, and infertility in the Asian community) also garnered much attention. The conference prominently displayed new member participation, as reflected by the Universidad de los Andes’ President Gaviria in his keynote speech endorsing further collaboration with APRU’s Global Health Program, and University of Queensland Professor Gita Mishra and Universidad San Francisco de Quito Professor Maria Amelia Viteri serving as the moderator of the life course plenary and speaker in the migration panel respectively. The other speakers on plenaries were Zhijie Zheng, University Endowed Chair Professor and Head of the Department of Global Health, School of Public Health, Peking University, Wen Chen, Director, Center for Pharmacoeconomic Research and Evaluation, Fudan University, Fan Wu, Deputy Dean of Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, and Michael Lu Dean of School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley. Whereas in APRU’s previous global health conferences a physical polling facilitated the picking of the best video of the Global Health Student Case competition, this year an international judging panel chose seven posters (in graduate and undergraduate categories) and three videos as finalists. The panel then invited all students and faculty to log in the online conference and voted for their favorite works. The winning students have received a prize of USD 500. APRU is delighted to note that the virtual conference was able to reach to a wider range of participants. “One of the key benefits of using a virtual platform is helping to reduce disparities in access to information and best practice sharing for people in middle-income countries who would likely not be able to attend international conferences in person, “said Christopher Tremewan, APRU Secretary General.
November 27, 2020more
Civic Resilience and the COVID-19 Crisis (Part 1 of 2)
By Jeff Hou See the original post here. This series of articles represents the outcomes of a two-part webinar, titled Bottom-Up Resilience and hosted by APRU Plus in July 2020. Through a partnership between Pacific Rim Community Design Network and the APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Hub, the discussion brought together a group of activists, organizers, and researchers across the region to critically reflect on their ongoing work in supporting the local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, civil society responses including self-help and mutual aid have become critical to the survival of many individuals and communities, lending a lifeline to some of the most vulnerable populations in our society. In the Seattle area, the ground zero of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, citizen groups and community organizations mobilized to provide food delivery and relief for elderly residents. Makerspaces, architecture firms, and university labs shifted gear to produce Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers. Artists volunteered and collaborated with neighborhood organizations to paint murals on boarded-up storefronts to support local businesses and deter vandalism. While many of these efforts may appear to be ad-hoc and spontaneous, others also emerge from longstanding networks and relationships. Together, they represent the emergence of civic resilience — the ability of citizens and communities to cope with and adapt to social, economic, and environmental disturbances. Compared with the common association of resilience with infrastructure projects and scientific analyses, civic resilience suggests the agency and power of individuals and civil society groups in responding to urgent and longstanding challenges. Seattle is far from the only city where such instances exist. Cases of community organizing for self-help and mutual support have also emerged elsewhere during the pandemic, including cities and communities in Asia. Through a two-part webinar titled Bottom-Up Resilience and hosted by APRU Plus in July 2020, a group of activists, organizers, and researchers across the region joined in a dialogue to share lessons and experiences from their ongoing work during the COVID-19 crisis. The webinars set out to examine the following questions: How do communities and social groups self-organize to address challenges during the pandemic, in particular challenges facing the most vulnerable populations in our society? What do these cases have in common? What can we learn from these civil society responses for future planning? What are the roles of researchers, planning and design professionals, and institutions in strengthening community resilience? This essay summarizes the findings and presents the key lesson learned in the hope of advancing the understanding and practices of mutual aid, community self-help, and civic resilience. Pandemic Inequalities With lockdowns, travel restrictions, social distancing requirements, and economic slowdowns, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused enormously disruptive changes to societies around the world. As schools, streets, and other forms of public and private spaces shut down in one city after another, the patterns of daily lives that were once taken for granted had suddenly unraveled. While a large segment of society can afford or manage to work from home, however, others are not as fortunate. As the death toll under COVID-19 has shown, cities and communities have been impacted differently, with the less privileged ones suffering a greater blow. Inequalities and the experiences of the marginalized and unprivileged were the main themes during the webinar with presenters sharing their first-hand accounts working with or learning from the homeless, migrant workers, and street vendors on the front line during the pandemic. In one case after another, we learned that a simple change in how urban spaces were managed could have a substantial impact on the populations that depended on them for their livelihood. In Manila, for instance, Tessa Maria Guazon of the University of the Philippines Diliman reported on the experience of street vendors during the lockdown, sharing that “many of those who sold their goods on the streets had no earnings having lost touch with their loyal customers.” The street that once provided a “semblance of security” was no longer accessible. The restriction imposed on transportation during the lockdown also “put the marginalized at a greater disadvantage,” said Guazon. Changes in mobility during the lockdowns had a disproportionate impact on different segments of the population. According to Iderlina Mateo-Babiano of the University of Melbourne, 80% of the Philippines population is largely dependent on public transport. Banning mass transit to prevent the spread of COVID-19 had a significant impact on those who rely on public transport. “The impact was felt hardest by the essential workers and frontline workers who still had to go to work but had limited mobility choices,” said Mateo-Babiano. In Hong Kong, homeless individuals, or McRefugees, were locked out of their usual refuge as McDonald’s was closed for a month during the lockdown, according to Michelle Wong, former program manager of Impact HK, a charity organization serving the homeless in Hong Kong. For those who had to report to work, such as the street cleaners, long working hours meant that many did not have time to cue up for buying masks even if they could afford to buy them, said Bernard Lee of Fixing Hong Kong, a volunteer organization that organized donations and distribution of PPEs to street cleaners and those in need during the pandemic. For migrant workers in Hong Kong, Cecilia Chu and Marta Catalán Eraso of the University of Hong Kong reported that “fears of contagion meant that employers were largely unwilling to give domestic workers their weekly time-off.” Specifically, they found 29% of the domestic workers have their days off refused. Foreign domestic workers were also not included in the almost HKD 300 billion government fund to assist industries and the public in Hong Kong. Many also do not have access to PPEs, according to Chu and Catalán Eraso. The situation in Singapore is perhaps most telling in terms of the demographic disparities. According to Tan Beng Kiang of the National University of Singapore, 95% of local cases are migrant workers living in the dormitories. The number of COVID cases is significantly high “because of the high-density living in the sharing of common spaces,” said Tan. Other seemingly simple or trivial changes could also have a significant impact on the less privileged. In Tokyo, according to Mago Yoshihira of YUI Associates, a social enterprise organization serving the homeless population in Sanya, during the pandemic people often eat at home and do not go out to drink (at bars or restaurants), resulting in a lot of household cans to collect. The price of cans went down as a result, with the price for one kilogram falling by almost 50% from 80–85 yen to 45 yen. This falling price presented a challenge for people who make a living by collecting cans. Vulnerable populations during the pandemic include not only the homeless and migrants but also those with chronic illnesses. In Wuhan, the first epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, medical resources were squeezed in the city, and many patients with chronic illnesses had difficulties accessing medical care during the lockdown, according to members of the Dinghaiqiao Mutual Aid Society Yang Bao and Shuyun Cao who have been observing volunteer efforts in Chinese cities during the COVID-19 outbreak. Many of the challenges facing marginalized populations have long existed before the pandemic. In Tokyo, chronically homeless people keep living on the street and refuse to receive social benefits, according to Mago Yoshihira. “One of the major reasons for them to refuse services is that they do not like to stay at the institutional facilities […] Usually the bunk beds are provided, or one room has to be shared with another person. There are also lots of restrictions […] it’s not a good environment,” said Yoshihira. In Taiwan, where the local authority has successfully contained the outbreak of COVID-19, the social isolation and spatial segregation experienced by migrant workers during the pandemic was not new, according to Shu-Mei Huang, an Assistant Professor at the National Taiwan University. From an interview with a community worker, she learned that the migrant workers ”are actually better than anyone to live in isolation, and to maintain online, fragmented social interactions.” Organized Civil Society Responses It was in the context of disparities and inequalities faced by the vulnerable and marginalized populations that many of the self-help and mutual aid efforts emerged. At the webinars, it was interesting to hear about not only the range of efforts but also the organizations that undertook the initiatives. Specifically, it is important to note that many of the organizations existed long before the pandemic. Their efforts showed how they have responded and adapted to changing needs in the community, and how existing networks and relationships played critical roles during the crisis. Starting with Manila, Tessa Maria Guazon shared the effort of her research team as part of the Southeast Asia Neighborhoods Network, a project that started in 2017. During the pandemic, the team shifted from research to supporting community partners who were mainly homeless women and itinerant vendors. Using social media, the team solicited donations and organized “survival packs” for distribution to community members. Each survival pack provides one family with a week’s supply of rice, cans of sardines and corned beef, powdered coffee and milk, sugar, bread, and fresh vegetables. Multiple organizations from Hong Kong were featured in the webinars. Fixing Hong Kong is a volunteer group based in Tokwawan, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Hong Kong. Founded in 2015 after the Umbrella Movement, the group provides home repair services as a way to perform outreach to communities to promote democracy and community self-help. With the outbreak of COVID-19, the group shifted gear to organize donations and distribution of masks and hand sanitizers to those in need, particularly street cleaners. As of July, the group has received and distributed over 50,000 masks and several hundred liters of hand sanitizers, according to Bernard Lee. ImpactHK is a charity organization focusing on serving the homeless in Hong Kong. With limited staff, the organization focuses on linking the homeless, volunteers, donors, and their own staff. ImpactHK already had a food distribution program that served about 30 people a day before the pandemic. During the COVID-19 crisis, the program expanded to serve 150 people a day. The group also distributed masks and hand sanitizers, although they found the homeless were more concerned with having a place to stay and addressing other more immediate survival needs, according to Wong. For migrant workers in Hong Kong, many grassroots organizations and unions from the community of domestic workers have been active in providing extra support to those in need. According to Marta Catalán Eraso, these groups reached out to the community and gave away masks and other supplies donated by companies. They also provided moral, legal, and health support. The Indonesian migrant workers union even had an online meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo to discuss these issues. The first-ever global online rally of migrant domestic workers took place with more than 500 participants representing organizations from 39 countries, a testament to the power of the pre-existing networks among the migrant workers. In Singapore, several existing organizations have stepped up during the crisis. According to Tan Beng Kiang, NGOs such as Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach delivered meals to migrant workers who are quarantined or under a stay home order. A Singapore choir group “Voices of Singapore” organized a virtual sing-along for migrant workers and kids to raise funds for migrant workers. During the lockdown, religious spaces opened their premises for the homeless, including Malaysians who commute to work in Singapore each day but were stranded overnight because of the sudden lockdown and border closure. In Wuhan, the NGO Wuhan LGBT Center provided health counseling and medicine delivery for HIV patients. They also set up a mutual support WeChat group for people to borrow HIV medication in emergencies. According to a report by Jean Chong of OurRight Action International, “between January 26 until the end of lockdown on April 8, the Center delivered medicine to an average of 200 persons daily,” and “an estimated 14,000 persons received 130,000 bottles of medicine over the entire 74 days of lockdown.” In the Wanhua District of Taipei, a historic district with a high concentration of poor and elderly populations, the dense network of existing social service organizations provided much-needed support for the area’s residents and businesses. With large public gatherings banned during the early part of the pandemic in Taiwan, the network of organizations successfully moved a market event online. The event typically held three times a year since 2016 has been important for supporting local businesses and social enterprises. The success of the online event encouraged the event partners to continue working together, according to Shu-Mei Huang. In Tokyo, YUI Associates is a social enterprise that runs hostel-like hotels and a cafe in Sanya, a neighborhood historically known for a concentration of day laborers and homeless people. The organization operates two hotels for travelers and a third one to serve the homeless and provide them with a more comfortable and dignified environment. During the COVID-19 crisis, the group used one of its travelers’ hotels to accommodate chronically homeless individuals during the emergency declaration. It continues to provide food deliveries in the area for the homeless. Besides formal organizations, informal social networks also played an important role during the crisis. In Manila, Tessa Maria Guazon found that the drives for food provision during the first few weeks of the city-wide lockdown have relied on social media networks. “There was a resurgence of community kitchens, and efforts were pooled between individuals and the many citizen groups that social media helped gather,” said Guazon. In Hong Kong, Bernard Lee argued that many of these civil society responses during COVID-19 in Hong Kong have their roots in the protest movement in 2019. “Because of the protests, we are much better at organizing ourselves,” said Lee. Among the migrant workers in Hong Kong, there was also informal sharing of masks and sanitizers, as well as emotional support for those returning to their home countries under the lockdown, according to Marta Catalán Eraso. Emerging Mutual Aid and Community Self-Help Besides the existing networks and organizations, the recent crisis also saw the emergence of several new groups and self-organized initiatives. The formation of these efforts suggests new possibilities of community self-help and new forms of civic organizing. They also suggest the potential of civil society particularly in places where such a phenomenon was not expected or was not prominent historically. In Singapore, a society arguably without a strong tradition of civic actions, there has been an outpouring of support for mutual aid and community self-help during the pandemic. A group of students from the National University of Singapore volunteered as translators for the migrant workers with a hospital, “They translated common questions the doctors would ask workers into voice recording and text. (in five languages — Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Myanmar, and Chinese). These were used by the doctors when they communicated with the workers,” said Tan Beng Kiang. On the campus of the National University of Singapore, with a dormitory converted into a community recovery facility where migrant workers discharged from the hospital came to recover, students collected t-shirts and delivered them to the workers (as they could not go back to pick up their belongings) and offered financial literacy classes for the workers. At the Nanyang University of Technology, with the school in lockdown and the canteen closed, an undergraduate student who had just opened a noodle shop in the canteen decided to cook for hundreds of elderly citizens with donations from a crowdfunding campaign. With students having to engage with home-based learning during the lockdown, a group of volunteers formed a group called Community Against COVID that repaired laptops for students in need so that they could continue learning at home. Other groups included “Masks Sewn with Love” that “sewed masks from their home for the homeless, migrant workers, and other vulnerable groups,” said Tan. In Manila, Life Cycles PH was formed by a team of transport advocates, cyclists, and social media campaigners to provide bicycles to frontline workers in need of transport during the community quarantine. According to Iderlina Mateo-Babiano, through the donation of bikes and funds to purchase bicycles in bulk from suppliers, the group has delivered over 1,000 bikes to hospitals and institutions. Also, they have been able to match more than 400 bike lenders to borrowers in the community. Mobility and transportation during the pandemic was a challenge not just in Manila. In Wuhan, known as China’s punk rock capital, music fans from two renowned live houses together with other participants formed a group called LuMo Road Rescue. The group coordinated and gave rides to medical workers during the city’s extraordinary lockdown. Starting with mobility support, the group has since branched out to coordinate donations and distribution of personal protection supplies to those in need, including local hospitals. Wuhan was the site of many other self-help and mutual aid efforts, including those that serve the socially marginalized populations. According to Yang Bao and Shuyun Cao, volunteers formed a support group for pregnant women especially single mothers and same-sex partners. There were also pet owners who organized a support network to care for abandoned pets and those whose owners were missing or could not return to their apartments during the lockdown. The emergence of these novel, self-organized initiatives illustrates the possibilities for community self-help and mutual aid even in societies with a tradition or system of top-down governance. It suggests that when called for by extraordinary circumstances, community groups and informal networks may leap into action. Yet it is also quite possible that these self-help efforts have long existed but were overshadowed by the state institutions and cultural biases that fail to recognize these survival mechanisms.
September 17, 2020more
Civic Resilience and the COVID-19 Crisis (Part 2 of 2)
By Jeff Hou See the original post here. This series of articles represents the outcomes of a two-part webinar, titled Bottom-Up Resilience and hosted by APRU Plus in July 2020. Through a partnership between Pacific Rim Community Design Network and the APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Hub, the discussion brought together a group of activists, organizers, and researchers across the region to critically reflect on their ongoing work in supporting the local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learning from Civil Society and Civic Resilience What exactly can we learn from these different types of civil society responses during the pandemic? What do these cases tell us about social and community resilience from the bottom up? What do they reveal about the longstanding disparities in society? What can we look forward to in terms of sustaining these networks and momentum? Contrasting responses Besides the disproportionate impacts on the mainstream society and the marginalized communities, the contrasting responses from the state and the civil society groups present another parallel across the different geographical contexts. In Manila, Tessa Maria Guazon found the state’s bureaucratic response to daily emergencies like food supply, mass testing for the virus, and the provision of public transport to be, as usual, delayed and inadequate. As a result, communities turned to self-help and mutual aid as a way to address urgent needs, a pattern also found elsewhere. The experience in China offers a different scenario. In Wuhan, the local government did react relatively quickly but failed to account for the less privileged. Yang Bao and Shuyun Cao argued that “as the pandemic spread, the government’s one-size-fits-all directives could not respond to the detailed needs of all sectors of society.” It was in this context that the self-organized civil networks have emerged in response to the urgent needs of those who have not been helped. In Tokyo, the support from the government in terms of temporary accommodation for the homeless was critical but short-lived. After seven days during the crisis, “people were back on the streets,” said Mago Yoshihira. She went to note, “we were worried about them and that was why we started free ‘food delivery’ to homeless people […] so we can visit them directly and conduct short interviews each time.” “Face-to-face conversation is best to feel empathy,” said Yoshihira. YUI Associates also began to accept people who had newly become homeless due to COVID-19 and assisted them in finding jobs, according to Yoshihira. In other cases, the government response has been a source of longstanding challenges. In Hong Kong, Michelle Wong described the dilemmas faced by the homeless and social service organizations, “even before COVID-19, they stay in tunnels; they stay on the streets, or they stay in McDonald’s.” “They move around quite often, and the reason why they need to move is that the government would remove their stuff in the tunnel or park frequently,” said Wong. This has made the work of volunteers and social service organizations difficult because they cannot locate the homeless, build relationships, and provide support for them. Trust and empathy As a discussant on the first day of the webinar, Kian Goh of the University of California, Los Angeles highlighted the presence of place-based and historically informed local experiences as illustrated by the speakers. Goh noted that many community self-help and mutual aid practices “really have to be built on trust and empathy […] developed among close-knit circles.” Indeed, local practices that built trust and empathy appeared to have played an important role in engendering community responses during the COVID-19 crisis. In Manila, Tessa Maria Guazon pointed out the notion of Namamangketa as “a way of life” and “a manner of thriving” among the community members she worked with. Asked about how empathy was developed, Guazon noted that empathy among the women partners was built from shared experiences, particularly the struggles with local law enforcement and government. Working with the women partners through the SEANNET project, she learned that a way to live together was “to be with another, to feel the pain of another, to empathize with others.” In the case of LuMo Road Rescue in Wuhan, Yang Bao found trust was already established and deeply rooted in the group, “making the rescue, their donation [drive], and mobilization of resources [go] quite smoothly.” Iderlina Mateo-Babiano also found community resilience to be underpinned by trust in the case of Life Cycles PH. She noted that many of the transactional activities, including the borrowing of bicycles, were based on trust and community spirit or Bayanihan. “There was no money involved; transactions were just purely made on trust and generosity within the community Facebook group,” said Mateo-Babiano. Asked about how trust was developed for Life Cycles PH, Mateo-Babiano suggested that the transactions became a form of relationship building. Following the online transactions, “the group would go and meet up with people to exchange bicycles,” said Mateo-Babiano. The social media platform also allows the group to build trust by being transparent about their actions. Reciprocity and Scalability As place-based and locally-specific actions, Kian Goh wondered about the potential of looking across scales to include different community groups and different levels of government, and if these efforts are bound to one place and one community. In other words, are these civil society responses scalable? In Singapore, Tan Beng Kiang found an untapped resource of people who are interested in helping: “I think there are a lot of people during the lockdown who were at home and they all want to do something [to help] but they can’t get out,” said Tan. Tapping into the potential of these individuals presents opportunities for scaling up. In Manila, Tessa Maria Guazon found evidence of “a cycle of generative reciprocity” in the example of a chef who converted her restaurant kitchen into a community kitchen and came up with a set of guidelines for establishing community kitchens and for making them safe. A colleague from the university then translated the guidelines into Tagalog or Filipino so they can be widely circulated. “It keeps these efforts going. Some of us may fall out because of fatigue but I think others will be interested to help,” said Guazon. In the case of Life Cycles PH, beyond facilitating the lending and borrowing of bikes, Mateo-Babiano found the group to have expanded their advocacy to create a culture of cycling, “a culture of just and sustainable mobility for everyone.” This includes pushing the government to build more bike lanes and cycling infrastructure to make cycling safe. She found that the conversation has moved from short-term emergency response to long-term needs for expanded infrastructure for more equitable and safer mobility. In the migrant worker community in Hong Kong, Cecilia Chu and Marta Catalán Eraso came across additional actors that served to bridge multiple scales. For instance, they highlighted the role of banks in lending technical support to the workers as they might become future clients. “This suggests that self-help is not really entirely independent […] there is a kind of intricate relationship between institutional engagement and community self-help,” said Chu and Catalán Eraso. Solidarity and collaboration The answer to scalability perhaps already exists in the way that many of these groups and initiatives operate, through collaboration and acts of solidarity. In answering my own question about how organizations adapted to crises and how such adaptation can sustain in the long run, Iderlina Mateo-Babiano sees the sharing paradigm as key, particularly when “fueled by the ongoing advocacy and solidarity of like-minded individuals,” and “a common concern for social justice and human connection.” Michelle Wong had a similar response, “as an organizer I always go back to solidarity as a solution.” For instance, the COVID-19 crisis has led ImpactHK to consider forming a network of homeless advocacy organizations in Hong Kong to address the problem effectively and to lobby the government. “At the end of the day, the government is the resourceful, powerful kind of machine that can do much more than a small organization like us,” said Wong. Collaboration already played a critical role in the ongoing work of ImpactHK. During the crisis, the organization hosted around 200 homeless individuals by partnering with guest houses for travelers. In another instance, to learn about the issues facing the street cleaners and to better support them, Fixing Hong Kong organized a learning session for volunteers with the Hong Kong Cleaning Workers Union so they can “understand more about the difficulty that these street cleaners face,” said Bernard Lee. In Singapore, during the crisis, some of the existing NGO groups have formed a coalition because their work is similar. Instead of everyone trying to replicate others’ activities, “they are combining,” said Tan Beng Kiang. According to Tan, the groups are also partnering with the government because during the crisis, “there are things you can’t do unless you get permission, such as entering the quarantined migrant worker dormitory.” As a result, “there’s now a partnership going on between the government and the NGO groups,” said Tan. Spontaneous solidarity can also take place across borders. In Tokyo, where masks were in short supply during the COVID-19 outbreak between March and June of 2020, YUI Associates received donations of masks from regular customers of their tourist hotel in Sanya. According to Mago Yoshihira, more than 1,200 masks were sent from Shanghai and Hong Kong where the number of infections had declined at the time. YUI members brought these donated masks to rough sleepers and the homeless populations in Sanya as well as a terminal care facility for homeless individuals and a hospital. In answering the question about how civil society responses can be sustained, Tessa Maria Guazon suggests that this can be supported through multi-nodal efforts: “When people work at various scales, if one group suffers fatigue, then another catches them.” Similarly, Masato Dohi, co-founder of ARCH, reflected on the voluntary effort of Tokyo Street Count: “[with] just a small group of two or three people, we can only count a small part of the city and small part of the homeless population, but with hundreds of people we can count the homeless people in Tokyo.” (Nao Kasai further notes that the robustness of the count is not the focus of the argument, but rather that societal inclusivity starts from “I recognize you” at the grassroots level. “Our Tokyo Street Count is an effort to scale up this ‘I’ to ‘we,’ so we can say ‘we recognize you all’ as a society,” said Kasai.) Collaboration and solidarity are indeed keys to how responses of civil society, albeit often modest in scale and capacity, can have a greater collective impact during a crisis and in the long run. They enable groups to maintain autonomy and self-manage while working toward a common goal. By pooling together resources of different kinds, it creates efficiency and allows groups to adapt to changing needs and circumstances and scale-up. Barriers to Civil Society Responses With lockdowns and other extraordinary constraints during the COVID-19 pandemic, civil society responses have their share of challenges and difficulties as well. In Tokyo, Nao Kasai noted that because of limited capacity, the work of ARCH on street homelessness had to shrink. “Many street support activities rely on volunteers, and service providers had to redesign or stop their activities without volunteers during the pandemic,” said Kasai. As a social enterprise, YUI Associates faced a financial challenge during the crisis. With almost no guests by April, they had to close one of the hotels to reduce costs even though the demand from the homeless population has increased, including people who require special care. Other aspects of the widespread lockdown during COVID-19 posed additional difficulties. In Manila, residents from San Roque, an informal settlement in Manila’s northeast protested against the local government during the lockdown. They were dispersed and later arrested as they were deemed by the police to be defying the law against public gatherings. In Hong Kong, where there was already a ban on public gatherings issued by the government to rein in the civil unrest, volunteers handing food to the homeless in the park received warnings from the police because of the restrictions against public gatherings. “I know that some of our homeless friends. They get tickets. They get warnings and tickets from the police,” said Michelle Wong. She suspected that the police were using the ban to “scare them off from the park.” “I think they make use of COVID to get what they want right now because of the protests and also for the homeless; they don’t want them,” said Wong. Faced with this challenge, volunteers of ImpactHK resorted to a flash mob tactic to continue serving food in the park next to their office. Physical and mental fatigue came up as another important issue in the conversation. Tessa Maria Guazon described her experience in Manila, “after what we did for our women partners, I was totally just exhausted.” In her concluding thought on the first day of the webinar series, Shuyun Cao suggested, “we should not over-emphasize contribution or devotion to a great goal […] I think in that way individuals will be swallowed by those great goals.” Instead, she suggests attention to self-care and individual mental health, “then the empathy fatigue will not be that serious,” said Cao. Besides fatigue, it is also important to critically reflect on other challenges facing mutual aid and self-help. Cecilia Chu argued, “all these self-help practices [by migrant workers] when we presented them seemed very positive and enlightening, but in Hong Kong, it’s been really not seen as part of the civic engagement in the eyes of most of the local residents.” Furthermore, she suggested that the community self-help was in fact a reflection of their marginalized position “that so far has not been really breached.” Lastly, Shu-Mei Huang suggested that even with all the focus on the marginalized groups through civil society responses, some groups might still be left out. For instance, while we have better understood the struggles of the domestic workers, we still know rather little about factory workers and fishers, “migrant fishermen […] really can’t make it to public space over the weekend because they don’t have a weekend.” Implications and Lessons for Planning and Design Practices A key question on both days of the discussion concerns the implications and lessons of civic resilience for planning and design professionals, the main audience of the webinars. Iderlina Mateo-Babiano responded with a reflection on her training as a planner, “when I hear the stories […] I think that’s one of the learnings that as a planner we should take on.” “Sometimes we think that we know what are the lived experiences of those for whom we provide public spaces, but actually what we have thought of as the right solution, the right public space, may not really be the right one for the users,” said Mateo-Babiano. For Tan Beng Kiang, a key lesson from the civil society responses was simply to act. She thinks that as designers or as educators, “we can encourage our students to act, even if they are locked down at home or with limited access to visit [a site], etc., what is it that they can do to help? What is it they can do within their community?” Indeed, the cases presented by the webinar speakers would not have been possible without the actions and initial responses. Whether there have been pre-existing networks or not, the most critical aspect of community self-help has been the will and ability to act. While the focus of the urgent and immediate relief was critical, in the grand scheme of things, it’s also important to identify how civic resilience can be supported and cultivated on an everyday basis before and beyond the moment of crisis. As suggested by the role of pre-existing networks and organizations, it is important to engage these networks and organizations in the planning and design of neighborhoods, districts, cities, and regions, and ensure such engagement can help build capacity and strengthen relationships among the groups. Opportunities also need to be provided for those without formal affiliations. As evident in the outcomes of the pandemic, social disparities have been an acute form of vulnerability that threatens not only the underserved and underprivileged but also the society at large. As these social and economic disparities are often reinforced by the built environment, planning and design professions, by and large, have been accomplices to a structure that produces and reproduces these inequalities. Addressing these disparities and closing the gaps requires the built environment professions to play a more self-critical role and reflect on longstanding assumptions and practices. As we rebuild cities and communities to avoid future outbreaks of infectious diseases, we must ensure that the voices of the less privileged are not left out. As evident from the cases highlighted in the webinars, a seemingly insignificant change in the everyday environment and everyday life can have a significant impact on the vulnerable populations. Additionally, a well-intended policy or measure can have unintended consequences especially if the concerns of those who are not at the table are not accounted for. We must avoid the pitfalls that have plagued the rescue, relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts in the past that have deprived rather strengthened the communities in need. Finally, as Kian Goh noted during the webinar, “mutual aid community self-help is not a cure-all.” There are structural issues that will require much more substantial effort and perseverance. But as the experiences highlighted through the webinar have indicated, seemingly robust structures can fail and when they do, civic resilience can play an important role in saving lives and supporting communities in need. Furthermore, changing and rebuilding the structures will also require the efforts of civil society in holding the state and institutions accountable. A deeper and more critical understanding of civic resilience is the first step toward the long-term safeguarding of cities and communities beyond the pandemic.
September 17, 2020more
APRU Global Health experts co-publish insights on global health ethics in the time of COVID-19
APRU Global Health Working Groups provide a platform for experts and scholars to develop joint-research and share lessons-learnt. During a webinar held in May 2020, experts brought together by the Global Health Bioethics Working Group examined ethical challenges in both research and clinical care associated with COVID-19. The inter-disciplinary and international nature of the event offered participating scholars the unique opportunity to analyze these challenges from diverse perspectives and publish the findings in the Journal of Global Health Science. View the paper here. Find out details about the authors and the webinar here.
September 16, 2020more
Winners of the Global Health Student Activities 2020 Announced
The APRU Global Health Poster Contest 2020 just released seven finalists from total 49 submissions across 15 economies and 26 universities . A prize of USD 500 will be awarded to the winners. The winning team of the undergraduate poster is from University of Santo Thomas. The winner of the graduate poster is from Fudan University. See the posters from the seven finalists here. Finalists Undergraduate (in an alphabetical order) University of Malawi Zaithwa Matemvu Apatsa Villiera Steve Chilmenji University of Santo Thomas (winner) Mary Kristine Pinpin Chelsea Pineda Krisalene Plazuela Biana Pollo Clare Quimson Gian Carlo Torres University of Oregon Tyra Judge Graduate (in an alphabetical order) BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences Bikram Adhikari Fudan University (winner) Zhixi Liu Universitas Indonesia Bonardo Prayogo Hasiholan University of Tokyo Maya Fujimura View all the submissions here. The APRU Global Health Student Case Competition 2020 challenges young talents to develop and test a new intervention that could help improve the health system of elderly care in the Asia-Pacific. The competition seeks for teams creating cost-effective and culturally-appropriate strategies that are realistic and also creative. In this challenging time, the competition brought together 45 teams from 22 universities in 12 economies (Australia, China, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and the US) to register and develop creative and evidence-based proposals to address the complex issue of elderly care. The videos of three finalist teams are (in an alphabetical order): MoreDoe from Yonsei University The Yellow Jackets from University of Indonesia Toilet Paper Hoggers from The Chinese University of Hong Kong The three runner-up teams were PH Pro (Fudan University), Team Medeavour (The Chinese University of Hong Kong), and Terps for Health (University of Maryland, College Park). The winning team is The Yellow Jackets from University of Indonesia. Total fifteen international judges were invited to review the entries. A prize of USD 500 will be awarded. Watch the finalist videos below. MoreDoe from Yonsei University The Yellow Jackets from University of Indonesia Toilet Paper Hoggers from The Chinese University of Hong Kong
August 17, 2020more
USC-based Global Health Program highlights interdisciplinary collaboration in the time of coronavirus
By Laura Lambert The program, part of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, is rooted in collaboration, communication and education. originally published in USC News In the shadow of the United States leaving the World Health Organization, and amid rising international tensions, the work of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Global Health Program, which is housed at USC, is a welcome meeting of the minds, rooted in collaboration and communication, education, rather than politics, sharing, rather than blame. Associate Professor Mellissa Withers of the Keck School of Medicine of USC has been the director of the APRU Global Health Program since 2013. And when the coronavirus pandemic hit, Withers realized it was the perfect time for the conversations at the heart of her program to reach a wider audience. “As this was all starting, I thought, we’re in global health — this is us,” says Withers. “To be able to disseminate the work of the network is impactful.” The pandemic as the great equalizer In May, the APRU Global Health Program hosted a webinar, bringing together five of the leading minds within the network – from Australia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Mexico and Ecuador – to grapple with the most pressing questions in bioethics, from how best to distribute scarce resources to the role that outdated notions of aging play in managing COVID-19. More than 1,000 members from across the Americas, Asia and Australasia signed up – far more than 350 or so members who typically take part in the group’s annual conference. The influx of new participants made a real impression on Christopher Tremewan, PhD, the APRU Secretary General, based in Hong Kong. “This first APRU Global Health webinar also highlighted a key benefit of virtual platforms in helping to reduce disparities in access to information and training for people in middle-income countries who would likely not be able to attend international conferences in person,” he said. Withers agrees, saying, “There is an interest and need.” There was a need, too, to make the webinars more than just a one-way conversation. “We allowed time for questions, versus just listening to somebody, not being able to interact,” says Withers. “We intentionally did that.” After the webinar, members in Singapore and the Philippines sent in additional guidelines for health care workers, further disseminating information in a way that reflects the collaborative nature of the APRU network. “It’s not just an opportunity to talk about bioethics,” says Withers. The webinars provide a way to practice the kind of cross-cultural work that is at the cornerstone of global health. Promoting international conversations in an increasingly global world Connecting across borders and time zones requires certain cross-cultural competencies, not to mention technical logistics – and the APRU Global Health Program webinar was not the first time members have been able to hone such skills. Since 2015, APRU Global Health has also hosted for-credit graduate-level distance education courses on the topics of leadership and ethics, where students and faculty from at least three research universities from across the Pacific Rim come together to investigate and discuss of-the-moment topics from a variety of cultural vantage points. Says Withers, “It’s building the skills they will need in the future.” For USC students who have taken part, the courses have been transformative. Louis Litsas, a lab manager in Toronto who earned his MPH from USC in May, credits the Global Health Leadership course with developing his cultural sensitivity and listening skills. “It was an evolution of my global eyes,” he says. “The COVID experience has shown me that the global perspective is what my vision has to be in the future. It can’t be local anymore.” For Bethany Deford, who took the APRU Global Health Ethics in Research and Practice course in the fall as an elective for her MPH program, the cross-cultural conversations made a huge difference when, after graduation, she returned to work as a traveling nurse in the midst of the pandemic. Ethics were always at the forefront in the ICU, Deford explains, especially as traditional hospital practices were up-ended in the midst of the health care disaster. “It was a lot of preserving dignity and patients’ rights,” she says, of the work she strove to do. And for Diana Dimapindan, who also took the ethics course, the interdisciplinary nature of the course was key. “I’m a policy student,” she explains. “There were lawyers in the class, physicians in the class, and soon-to-be public health policy makers. I think that broad range of students perspectives is what made it so meaningful. And it’s amazing, logistically, that it even works, having all those countries dialing in.” The conversation continues Bioethics was just the first of APRU Global Health Program’s coronavirus-related webinars. In June, a series of eight additional webinars, co-hosted by the APRU Global Health Program and USC Institute on Inequalities in Global Health, kicked off, grappling with on COVID-19 and how it intersects with, for instance, mental health, environmental health or human rights. “We can look at COVID-19 from many different aspects,” says Withers. “We need engineers, anthropologists, lawyers, psychologists. It’s not just medicine and public health professionals.” The goal of the conversation, then, is to be both international and interdisciplinary – and now, more than ever, students, researchers and faculty around the Pacific Rim are primed for this kind of conversation. “Luckily, people who weren’t paying attention to global health before are interested in what we’ve been talking about,” says Withers. “There’s a general shift in sentiment — and a new appreciation for the importance of the work we do.”
June 25, 2020more
Collaboration, technology and global health policy
By By Peggy McInerny, Director of Communications, UCLA A group of Bruins minoring in the global health met during the APRU Global Health Student Case Competition. They are now planning careers in the field. The APRU Global Health Student Case Competition gives students an opportunity to practice critical-thinking and problem-solving skills to help solve global health challenges. The competition has brought together young and creative teams of university students to tackle many pressing global health problems with out-of-the-box ideas in helping to facilitate real changes in society. Originally published by UCLA International Institute. UCLA International Institute, April 9, 2020 — UCLA students today have an enviable capacity to use multiple communication methods simultaneously when collaborating on a project. It is a skill that will serve them well in the coming months, as all UCLA courses continue remotely due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.The “Gamechangers Team,” a group of global health minors who designed a social media–based health intervention and produced a video about it, have a unique view on the value of communications technology in global health. Over the course of roughly six weeks in spring 2019, six undergraduates (two of whom have since graduated) met once a week in person, exchanged ideas regularly via a smart phone chat room and shared research on project components via Google Docs.The students came together to participate in the annual Global Health Case Competition of the APRU (Association of Pacific Rim Universities), whose 2019 challenge was: “Social Networking Intervention to Promote Physical Activity among Young People in Urban Environments.” The team was comprised of Julia Houshmand (UCLA 2020, molecular, cell, and developmental biology), Franklin Leung (UCLA 2019, microbiology, immunology & molecular genetics), Vera Ong (UCLA 2020, psychobiology), Rene Rosas (UCLA 2019, international development studies), Wendy Tang (UCLA 2021, economics) and Sahej Verma (UCLA 2020, global studies). “I remember that [student counselors] Katie Osterkamp and Magda Yamamoto said, ‘You will be competing with medical students and Ph.D. students.’ — And I thought, ‘Great!’” said Julia Houshmand ironically. “I remember watching some of the past videos — we were very intimidated,” said Vera Ong. “But we just gave it our best shot.” That best shot won the Gamechangers team a place among the three finalists — the first time a UCLA team had placed in this APRU competition. (Bruins have won and placed in several APRU health poster competitions in the past). Building on one another’s ideas and skills The team eventually designed a campus-based intervention that would use competitions between individuals, colleges and professional schools of UCLA (and with other universities in Los Angeles) to build community, increase physical activity and encourage healthier eating. One key idea was to showcase star UCLA athletes interested in pursuing careers in fitness by livestreaming their workouts. Although the International Institute was set to cover the students’ travel costs to attend the 13th APRU Global Health Conference last November, the conference was eventually cancelled due to demonstrations in Hong Kong. In the end, the UCLA team came in third. Surprisingly, the students were remarkably upbeat about the outcome, stressing they had learned so much from the collaborative process. “We went into this not to win the competition, but because we wanted to,” said Houshmand. “It sounded like something that was fun and interesting.” “Stressful, but fun!” added Ong, noting that the team developed their case on a compressed timeline that ran into spring quarter finals. “It was interesting how we all came up with the idea. It wasn’t just one person. Honestly, it was all of us sitting on Kerckhoff Patio and using the Socratic Method, asking: ‘What about this?’ ‘No, no, no, no.’ ‘What about this?’” said Ong. As they progressed, the students divided up research and tasks such as budgeting the hypothetical funding. Franklin Leung, a runner, suggested that the intervention use a Strava application to measure physical activity. He also ended up editing the final case video. “We wanted to create an intervention where people would actually have discussions about exercising together, eating healthier foods and so on,” explained Verma. “We set it up in a competition environment so that if, for example, I and Julia were roommates, we could compete with one another to see how we are doing. The goal was to use those friendly elements to live healthier lives.” A shared interest in global health policy The team members are deeply interested in the social determinants of health, equitable access to health care and health policy. Whether pre-med students, future economists or future health activists, their educations and career goals were a great fit with the video project. Houshmand, for example, is a pre-med senior whose interest in global health was sparked by significant travel and the experience of living between France and the United States for most of her life. “The two countries have very different medical systems,” she remarked. “My classmates in both countries came from a lot of different backgrounds, including refugees and people who were undocumented, and on the other hand, people from the highest levels of society,” she continued. “So I saw a lot of these differences, not just at the level of health, but at the level of access to health care.” “Since I became interested in medicine, I’ve always seen it in a global framework,” explained Houshmand. “When I started taking classes in my global health minor, I realized that I love thinking of solutions and interventions for a health issue not just from a biological standpoint, but also taking into account the historical context, the cultural context, the political climate, etc.” Ong also has significant experience in two countries, having been born in the Philippines before moving to Silicon Valley at a young age. She subsequently traveled frequently to see family in the Philippines. “What really got me into global health was growing up watching my uncle, who is a general surgeon there, serve his community,” she remarked. “Similar to Julia [Houshmand],” she adds, “I have experience of different health care systems and have seen that same lack of access to care,” she adds. Both her interest in global health and her volunteer work in the UCLA chapter of Global Medical Training (2018–2020) deepened her intellectual engagement with health policy. For example, she joined the Health Equity Network of the Americas, where she helped organized international conferences that address topics such as universal health, gender inequality in health access and immigrant health. Doctor in provincial hospital in Bulacan, Philippines. (Photo: ILO Asia-Pacific via Flickr). CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Ong, who plans to become a doctor, eventually came to evaluate potential medical schools partly on the basis of whether they incorporated courses on global and public health in their curricula. “That is a big factor for me in choosing a medical school and in what I want to do in the future,” she said. Houshmand, who is also going to medical school, shook her head in agreement. Verma approaches health policy from a social development perspective, but with insider knowledge of health care — he comes from a family of doctors. An internship for a pharmaceutical lobbying group in Geneva, plus subsequent biotech work experience, helped him define a health policy career direction. Specifically, he seeks to combine health policy with new therapeutic and diagnostic technologies to achieve better health outcomes. To do so successfully, however, requires effective communication. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with a few health economists in the Fielding School of Public Health,” he said, “and I’ve seen how they work to communicate the value of therapeutics and life sciences products to different policy makers to help them devise solutions that will both improve people’s lives and health outcomes.” COVID-19 and its impacts The COVID-19 pandemic has, if anything, increased the interest of the Gamechangers team in global health policy. The race to develop a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infections, for example, directly bears on Verma’s senior thesis. The global studies senior, now an undergraduate research fellow, is researching the role of Indian pharmaceutical manufacturers in developing vaccines against diseases of poverty that are prevalent in low- and middle-income countries. Verma may, in fact, temporarily delay plans to pursue a Ph.D. in health policy and economics so that he can work for the Indian ministry of health as it develops the regulatory infrastructure to speed the development of safe, efficacious and affordable pharmaceuticals. The pandemic is a wake-up call for the United States, said Verma. “Whether it is the inequitable distribution of materials — think therapeutic tools (vaccines), sanitary equipment (masks), life-saving infrastructure (protocols for medical staff in hospitals) or social rigidities (young people not following social distancing norms, while older folks are scared to shop for essential groceries and medicines) — America needs to rethink where its priorities lie as a society,” he continued. An image of the global pandemic in the shape of a COVID-19 molecule. (Image by Miroslava Chrienova courtesy of Pixabay.) “Post–COVID-19 will be a time not only to reconstruct infrastructure, but also to reconcile a communal attitude with productivity arguments,” he remarked. The UCLA student believes that the pandemic will lead many young people to study health policy in order “to challenge existing rationales about mechanisms of healthcare in the USA.” Ong has been struck by how much the pandemic has highlighted pre-existing flaws in public and global health policy. “It exposed just how much our current systems were unprepared for a pandemic such as this, and how much we need to improve as global and local communities,” she commented. “COVID-19 definitely shows the importance of global communication, teamwork and transparency, as well as the importance of forming pre-planned protocols to minimize potential consequences,” she said. Ong, who is currently working with the UCLA Learning Assistants Program to help professors navigate Zoom and better engage their students remotely, is seeing firsthand how time-efficient and useful such interactions can be. “With an increased focus on telemedicine, I can see similar benefits within the medical field,” she said. “By decreasing overall waiting time and providing more scheduling flexibility, telehealth could encourage patients to be more active in consulting physicians overall, increasing doctor-patient interaction and treating illnesses early.” Verma also believes that one outcome of the pandemic will be a revival of doctor-patient interaction. Yet the barriers to effective telemedicine remain significant, with equitable access to communications technologies at the top of the list. “The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the gaps in communications infrastructure, with restricted broadband speeds amid increased usage,” he pointed out. How regulators and the government support the adoption of these technologies will be the true litmus test of their efficacy in serving community health needs, insisted Verma. Ong points to additional barriers that must be addressed before telehealth can become a reality, including lack of technological literacy among physicians and patients, hacking dangers and lack of a robust protocol. As for the immediate future, Ong — like Houshmand — heads off to medical school in the fall. Verma will begin working as a research assistant at University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. Expect these Bruins to make their mark on global health policy in the coming decades. Published: Thursday, April 9, 2020
May 18, 2020more
2020 Healthy Women/Healthy Economies Research Prize Application Open Through May 2020
The APEC “Healthy Women, Healthy Economies” (HWHE) has found that sex-disaggregated data and gender based research and analysis is lacking. Policy makers, business leaders and others do not have adequate data and evidence to draw from to identify gender-specific interventions appropriate for their economies and organizations. To spotlight and spur much-needed data and evidence, Chile, along with Merck’s support, has created an annual prize recognizing research that enables policy makers, business leaders, and others to identify and implement measures to improve women’s health in APEC economies so women can join and rise in the workforce. Dr. Mellissa Withers, Director of the APRU Global Health Program, was chosen to be one of the judges of this contest in 2019. Prize The winner of the prize will win USD $20,000, while the 2 runners-up will win USD $5,000 each. If the winner or runner up is from government then the prize money will be given instead to HealthyWomen (a women’s health not-for-profit). Alternatively, the winner or runners-up may designate a not-for-profit entity to receive the prize money. Please attribute the research to all involved in its making, but only one individual may be nominated and eligible to receive the prize money and present the research. Eligibility In order to be considered for this prize, individuals must submit an original piece of research that is no older than two years of age as of January 1, 2020. All are welcome to apply; you do not require a background in academia in order to be considered. However, the research must be evidence based. Furthermore, the research must be submitted in English. If the research was not originally written in English please have it professionally translated. Application Materials Application (**Please use this for applying. Send completed version to [email protected]**) APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Application Form APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Prize Flyer For more information, please visit the APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies website. Contact [email protected] for any questions.
April 8, 2020more
Asia-Pacific Mayors Academy concludes first cohort
The Asia-Pacific Mayors Academy for Sustainable Urban Development successfully completed its first cohort with its third session held February 9-11 at the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi. Twelve mayors participated in sessions on financing, project bankability, and frontier technologies for sustainable urban development. The Mayors Academy was launched jointly in October 2019 by APRU, UN ESCAP, UN-Habitat, the United Nations University’s Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), United Cities and Local Governments Asia-Pacific (UCLG ASPAC), and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) to assist newly-elected and newly-appointed city leaders in the Asia-Pacific region to promote sustainable urban development. APRU is a member on the academy advisory board and supported the delivery of the inaugural cohort. APRU experts engaged in APRU’s Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Program (SCL) contributed to the overall curricular development as well as the academy’s Boot Camp on Urban Management. “The outcome of traditional urban planning is often too narrow or too grand in scope, ineffective, imbalanced, and exclusionary,” said Yizhao Yang, SCL Hub steering committee member and associate professor at the University of Oregon’s School of Planning, Public Policy and Management, who developed the curriculum’s Sustainable Urban Planning part. “By contrast, vision-driven sustainable urban planning can create sustainable, healthy, and economically vibrant cities that deliver a high quality of life to residents,” she added. The Academy’s third session involved mayors presenting real case studies of their own cities and their initial concepts applying key learnings. Cities covered were Sipalay and Bauang (Philippines), Nili and Kabul (Afganistan), and Tawau (Malaysia). Guest presentations were delivered by the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, United World Infrastructure, Gateway Global LLP, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the International Society of City and Regional Planners, Cisco Systems, ADB, World Bank, Habitat for Humanity International, and Mastercard City Next. The Academy’s preceding two sessions took place at the Asia-Pacific Urban Forum in Malaysia’s Penang in October 2019 and the UN Conference Centre in Thailand’s Bangkok in December 2019 respectively.
April 3, 2020more
APRU Sustainable Cities & Landscapes Experts Develop Curricula for Asia Pacific Mayors’ Academy
The Asia Pacific Mayors Academy for Sustainable Urban Development successfully completed its Component II. Held December 2-5 in Bangkok, Thailand, Component II comprised Module III — How is my city growing?; Module IV — How to finance sustainable cities?; and Module V – Who governs the city? The Asia Pacific Mayors Academy was launched jointly in October by APRU, UN ESCAP, UN-Habitat, the United Nations University’s Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), United Cities and Local Governments Asia-Pacific (UCLG ASPAC), and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) to assist newly-elected and newly-appointed city leaders in the Asia-Pacific region to promote sustainable urban development. The task of informing urban leaders is increasingly pressing due to the rapid pace of urbanization in most of the Asia Pacific cities. Indeed, the decisions made by today’s Asia Pacific city mayors and governors are set to determine whether the aspirations of the global development agendas, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the New Urban Agenda, can be achieved. “Experts from APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Program have been engaged in developing specific content in relation to key topics such as sustainable urban development and planning, green finance, and sustainable governance, and we are delighted that they delivered key sessions at the Mayors Academy Component II meeting,” said APRU’s Director of Policy & Programs Christina Schönleber. “APRU is proud to be a major partner of the Mayors Academy, and we are looking forward to the next meeting at the World Urban Forum in February in Abu Dhabi,” she added. Module III focused on elements related to managing urban growth through urban and territorial planning in an inclusive and participatory manner. Participants discussed the implications of population shifts and economic growth on urban sprawl, informal settlements, resource use, and land value. They also considered the implications of climate change, with a focus on building cities’ resilience to disaster risks, including the use of nature-based approaches. Module IV explored topics such as enhancing cities’ own source revenue, public private partnerships, and structuring finance for infrastructure programs via a discussion of various case studies. Module V started with an analysis of power relations within urban contexts and went on to explore the imperatives of improved vertical and horizontal integration. Component II was completed with the “Planning Next Steps” session in which the participating city mayors and governors presented their revised initiatives based on the insights developed in Modules III-V. The participating city leaders expressed that they now have a clear plan for their next steps and to begin preparations for their participation at the 2020 World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi.
January 6, 2020more
APRU Global Health Program advisory group leader launches new journal
APRU congratulates Dr. Juhwan Oh, a long-standing member of the APRU Global Health Program’s advisory group, for the successful launch of the Journal of Global Health Science (JGHS). The open-access, peer-reviewed international online journal officially published by the Korean Society of Global Health advances research to support policy, practice, and education in the field of global health by publishing papers of high scientific quality from diverse stakeholders in the global health community. JGHS’s focus is on under-served populations in the low- and middle-income nations and marginalized groups within otherwise prosperous nations. As a reflection of the successful start, JGHS will turn to quarterly publication this year, from biannually during the inaugural year 2019. APRU sees JGHS as playing an important role. Although unparalleled improvements in living conditions, poverty reduction, and life expectancies were made in the last century, many more global challenges lie ahead, including aging, urbanization, migration, environmental degradation, rising rates of chronic diseases, as well as social and economic inequalities. “Confronting the health challenges of our modern world requires challenging conventional wisdom with new ideas that reflect the changing global landscape; the launch of JGHS is an important step in advancing global health by creating a platform to share and debate scholarly research from around the world,” said Dr. Mellissa Withers, Director, APRU Global Health Program. “I am pleased to see that the focus of the JGHS is under-served populations in low- and middle-income economies and marginalized groups in high-income economies, and I am certain that JGHS will expand the opportunity to share high quality scientific work through an open-access format,” she added. JGHS places special focus on the following topics: reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child, and adolescent health; infectious diseases, including neglected tropical diseases; non-communicable diseases including cancer and mental health; injury; humanitarian aid; nutrition; universal health coverage; health law; global health workforce; health systems; surgery; health technologies; people centeredness; and health policy. The journal specially aims to focus on interconnecting diverse key stakeholders: community leaders; national and local members of parliament; national and local health officials; professionals from academic institutions; non-state actors; clinical and laboratory experts; and multilateral and bilateral agency officials. The scope of JGHS accommodates diverse styles of submissions including Original Research Articles, Review Articles, Short Research Notes, Editorial, Comments, and Letters from Field. Special niches within JGHS include articles on scientific program evaluation as well as any debating comments on official development aid.
December 15, 2019more
Upgrade needed for universities’ workplace wellness programs, new APRU survey shows
APRU Global Health Program released its latest report on Workplace Wellness (WW) finding that although many universities have implemented a range of programs designed to promote employee health and well-being, these programs are often not designed in a strategic or comprehensive way. The report was initiated at the Global Health Conference 2016, a special workshop on workplace wellness was held on the first day of the conference. A Sydney Statement on Employee Health and Well-being was announced and called on our universities to fulfil the responsibility to their employee’s health and well-being. Responding to this call, the report is based on an online survey conducted by the APRU Global Health Program (GHP) and completed by 29 universities in 13 Asia-Pacific economies in 2018. The survey aimed to assess the range and scope of employee health and wellness programs at universities in the Asia-Pacific; evaluate gaps and challenges; and facilitate the crafting of recommendations. “We identified a number of innovative and successful workplace wellness programs that our member universities offer, such as fitness challenges and health screenings, but programs relating to mental health, violence, and smoking cessation are especially lacking,” Prof Mellissa Withers of USC says. “The results demonstrate that the main perceived challenge of workplace wellness programs is lack of employee participation,” she adds. The survey suggests that participation suffers from a lack of protected time for employees to engage in WW programs. It also found that few universities offered financial rewards (such as discounts for health insurance or salary bonuses) for employees who have healthy lifestyles. The report moreover cited universities’ insufficient usage of social media or mobile phone messaging to disseminate health information to employees. Among the commendable case studies highlighted are The University of Hong Kong’s Walking Challenge, which entails a goal number of steps for the HKU community to walk together. In October 2018, the challenge expanded to involve over 1,500 people from more than 17 countries and amassed 463,447,412 steps—equivalent to walking 7 times around the world. Another case study is the Domestic Violence Support Policy by The University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney, which supports members who are directly or indirectly experiencing domestic violence, including by offering paid domestic violence leave of up to 10 days. The University of Southern California, for its part, offers an attractive reward scheme for smoking cessation, with staff and faculty who do not use tobacco or commit to enroll in a tobacco cessation program receiving a $25 reduction per month in paycheck contributions for their medical plan. Download the report >> The APRU Global Health Program, launched in 2007, is hosted by the University of Southern California and is led by Program Director, Professor Mellissa Withers. By facilitating collaboration and enhancing regional dialogue, the APRU Global Health Program works to bridge health divides, promoting and protecting population health and meeting shared health challenges.
December 13, 2019more
UNU-IAS and Partners Launch Asia-Pacific Mayors Academy
Published in United Nations University, Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability UNU-IAS, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), UN-Habitat and other partners have launched the Mayors Academy for Sustainable Urban Development in the Asia-Pacific, a new initiative to create and support a network of local leaders who will be committed to sustainable urban development in the region. The academy provides participating mayors with tools, strategies, and models to improve their capacity to achieve the SDGs in their constituencies, through appropriate city planning and management approaches. It fosters exchange, peer-learning, and cooperation between city leaders to enhance their leadership capacity, and provides a framework for short- to medium-term planning and action towards adoption of more sustainable development pathways. The academy comprises training sessions and ongoing peer-learning, and is organised in collaboration with the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), and the United Cities and Local Governments-Asia Pacific (UCLG-ASPAC). Launched on 15 October 2019 at the Asia-Pacific Urban Forum in Penang, Malaysia, the academy will run until December 2020. In February 2020 participating mayors will present proposed work plans at the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi. Background In 2015, UN Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda and its seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are designed to put the world on a path towards a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous future. On the current trajectory, it is estimated to be difficult for Asia and the Pacific to achieve any of the 17 SDGs by 2030. Accelerated progress is required on all fronts. It is crucial that local governments are enabled to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. For example, local ownership needs to be fostered to ensure support for this transformative action plan. Moreover, transformative local implementation is dependent on the availability of sufficient knowledge, capacities, resources and appropriate multi-level governance arrangements. In addition to translating the SDGs and their targets into concrete local policies, actions and programmes, it is important for local governments to develop appropriate follow-up and review processes to track progress on implementation. As most of the projected urban growth in Asia and the Pacific will occur in intermediate cities, their role will continue to expand, with the mayors of these cities and other subnational authorities quickly emerging as potential leaders to promote sustainable urbanization throughout the region. In this context, the Mayors Academy will mainly target mayors, especially those who are newly-elected or appointed, to provide better access to information, greater awareness of regional resources, and a support network to assist in the acceleration of urban sustainability initiatives. UNU-IAS is engaged in this initiative as part of its Governance for Sustainable Development (GSD) project, which addresses the policymaking processes and governance structures needed for achieving the SDGs.
October 15, 2019more
Cities and Refugees – 2019 Global Student Design Ideas Competition
By the end of 2017, around 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced, about half of which were children. Of this figure, over 25 million people escape to other countries, and as a result become refugees. Most refugees do not live in camps – forced displacement is now an urban phenomenon which creates a range of challenges. To address this global challenge, the Cities and Refugee Student Design Competition was hosted by the Rapid Urbanisation Grand Challenge at UNSW Sydney, with Australian Red Cross, ARUP International Development, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the APRU – Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Program Hub (APRU SCL). The opening night of the APRU SCL Conference 2019 at UNSW Sydney featured a public keynote address from Brett Moore, Head of Shelter and Settlements at UNHCR. His talk titled “Cities & Refugees: Complexity and Conflict: how can we deliver inclusive and sustainable urban development in challenging contexts?” served as a prelude for the announcement of the competition winners. Twenty-eight entries from fifteen economies took the challenge. We thank all judges for the incredibly difficult task of choosing the winners. Find out the challenge here. Prize winners 1st place (AUS$5000) Merapatkan Selayang: A Bridging Intervention for Social Integration Yale-NUS College Lucy Madeline Davis, Sharan Kaur Sambhi, Ernest Tan Sze Shen, and Nguyen Ngoc Luu Ly Physical Sciences (Chemistry), Anthropology, Urban Studies, and Urban Studies 2nd place (AUS$2500) Welcome to the Agora Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture et de Paysage de Bordeaux & Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Strasbourg Cécile Elbel & Ipek Erker 3rd place (AUS$1000) Threshold Conditions UNSW Sydney Samuel Jones Masters of Architecture Honorable mentions University of Auckland Dennis Byun, Angela Lai, Harry Tse, Todd Min, Sungoh Choi, John Woo, Scott Ma, and Jingyuan Huang Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS) representing Portal Studio Project title: Train-sition Shahid Beheshti University Solmaz Arzhangi, Sara Arzhangi, and Narges Rajaeipour Post-disaster reconstruction in architecture and urban study, Master of Architectural engineering and Master of Architectural engineering Project title: Towards a New Life University of Technology Sydney Allan Soo Project title: Case Study: Sydney
September 10, 2019more
Sustainable Urban Development Mayors Fellowship
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) – in cooperation with the United Nations University- Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), and the United Cities and Local Governments-Asia Pacific (UCLG-ASPAC) – invite newly elected or appointed city mayors/governors in the Asia-Pacific region to join the Mayors’ Academy for Sustainable Urban Development. The deadline for submission is August 23, 2019. [Objectives] This fellowship is to create and support a network of local leaders and mayors in Asia-Pacific committed to sustainable urban development through annual weekly intensive “boot camp” and ongoing peer-learning. The expert-formed academy will: Develop capacity to increase the leaders’ ability to address urban sustainability issues; Assist mayors to become knowledgeable of cities’ contributions to climate and sustainable development goals (SDGs) and targets to strengthen commitment to global development; Increase the use of sustainable urban development tools, resources and technical solutions by newly-elected mayors in the region, as well as city-to-city cooperation opportunities; Facilitate and strengthen the regional resources available to mayors and local authorities in support of the implementation of sustainable urban development; Establish a network of informed mayors and local leaders to serve as regional advocates for sustainable urban development in support of global development agendas. [Eligibility] A newly-elected or appointed mayor/governor, typically in the first third of the term. Must commit to attending the training sessions on October 15-17 at Penang, in December 2019 at Bangkok, and tenth session of the World Urban Forum in February 2020 at United Arab Emirates. Selected candidates’ expenses will be paid. [Deadline & Contact] Find out more information on the website. Fill in an application form and submit it by August 23, 2019. For application-related clarifications, applicants can write to [email protected] with copy to [email protected]
August 5, 2019more
APRU Inaugural Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Design Field School
Thirteen selected international students from APRU’s member universities participated in a two-week design field school in Indonesia led by HKU faculty staff and local partners, from August 27 to September 9, prior to the commencement of 2018 APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Conference. The school explored the uncertain landscape complexities, caused by urbanization, through examining a recent study that focused on the rapid modernization of landscapes and communities in East Java. A group presentation was given by the students during the conference’s dinner, addressing topics on eco-tourism, Gundih village, and marine debris in Indonesia. See travel blogs from Stuart and Mayeesha who just came back from the trip. Find out more about the field school here.
September 27, 2018more
Finalists entries for the 2016 Global Health Case Competition
For this year’s inaugural APRU Global Health Program Case Competition student teams were encouraged to consider a balance of innovative yet realistic, evidence-based solutions for the competition challenge Preparing Pacific Rim Countries for Natural Disasters’. The plot created for this case study is fictional and bears no direct reflection to any existing organisation or individual and was created exclusively for use in the 2016 APRU Global Health Case Competition. Any reuse, reproduction, or distribution of this case material must be approved by the USC Institute for Global Health or APRU. For questions, please contact Mellissa Withers at [email protected] Here are the videos of the winning team, Our Lady of Fatima University and the finalist teams from Tohoku University and Kyoto University: Winning Team: Our Lady of Fatima University Finalist Teams: Tohoku University and Kyoto University (L-R)
November 30, 2016more