Governors and representatives from over 100 cities of ASEAN countries and some outside of the bloc will attend next month’s ASEAN Mayors Forum and the Meeting of Governors/Mayors of ASEAN Capitals.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration held a meeting late last week to ensure preparations were complete ahead of the two-day meetings, which will be held in the capital on December 2-3.

Representatives from 80 cities in the ASEAN region and over 30 cities from outside of it will be in attendance, according to the Ministry of Interior.

It quoted Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng as saying that the meetings will be on a smaller scale than the recently concluded ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) meeting in Phnom Penh, and would follow the format of the recent ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) in Siem Reap.

The ASEAN Mayors Forum aims to strengthen cooperation by building clean, resilient, sustainable, transformative and inclusive cities under ASEAN principles to address challenges together, while the Meeting of Governors/Mayors of ASEAN Capitals focuses on fostering comprehensive cooperation for resilient and inclusive cites.

The forum is for the capital governors and mayors of the 10 ASEAN countries to discuss challenges that may arise in the future and to share good practices and viewpoints for building the ASEAN community.

Phnom Penh Municipal Hall spokesman Meth Meas Pheakdey could not be reached for comment.

Yang Kim Eng, president of the People Centre for Development and Peace, said the meeting is important as all ASEAN cities will learn from each other and share their experiences of both managing and developing cities.

He said the development of cities can bring both positive and negative effects. Some positives are that cities become more beautiful. Unfortunately, this can lead to a lack of inclusiveness.

“Development, sometimes, does not bring about inclusion. Occasionally, development can occur at a faster rate than some human rights issues. This can impact on the livelihoods of some of the population. ASEAN should carefully consider this issue, as the people of a city are as important as its buildings and infrastructure,” he told The Post.

“ASEAN must deeply consider the problem of this inclusion to take the compliment of people when cities are beautiful and cities are developed,” he added.

Kim Eng said that while Cambodia has employed some modern technologies, it needs to improve them before its towns and cities could become true “smart cities”.

“Let me give one example. If rubbish is piled up in the street, or a garbage truck fails to make its collections, there should be an app which allows municipal hall officials to take immediate action,” he said.

Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, told The Post that the establishment of smart cities in the ASEAN region is a long-term vision aimed at resolving the social and environmental issues that are confronting the whole world, while promoting regional prosperity and economic growth.

He said Cambodia has tentatively designated Siem Reap town future Smart City. The government has laid out policies to develop infrastructure, clean villages and historical and man-made tourist areas.

“The Smart City programme of Cambodia has received the support of various countries, especially Japan. ASEAN must continue smart city development mechanisms in its new and old cities, with the support of all members,” he added.