Cambodia virtually hosted the 5th ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN) Meeting under the theme “ASEAN ACT: Addressing Challenges Together” to exchange visions on urban development and promote people wellbeing for city dwellers.

The ASCN meeting this year is partly to follow up on aspects of the 33rd ASEAN Summit in 2018 in Singapore.

Sar Kheng, Minister of Interior and chairman of the ASCN, said at the opening ceremony of the meeting on August 30 via videoconference that for the occasion of welcoming the delegations at the recent 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM), Prime Minister Hun Sen outlined two initiatives that he considered important to the ASCN’s success.

The first of these was addressing threats to regional and global survival posed by climate change and environmental damage.

Sar Kheng said that for this first initiative, the ASCN and ASEAN cities would play an important role in contributing to the transformation of the ASEAN region to realise a green future that is sustainable, efficient, resilient and competitive economically.

This work covers many areas such as energy infrastructure, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, environment and finance. Innovative technologies and recycling would serve as driving factors in this process.

As for the second initiative related to the measures for effectively recovering from the impacts of Covid-19, Sar Kheng stressed that ASEAN cities were also recognised for their important role in contributing to that task earlier when times were more uncertain.

The cities and other sub-national administrations have been effective in preventing the spread of Covid-19 and have intervened in a timely manner to address the causes of the disease, according to the interior minister.

“The peace and stability that ASEAN has achieved over the past decades has made ASEAN a very prosperous region today, with high growth and development contributing to the gradual improvement of the people’s wellbeing,” he said.

As the rotating chair of ASCN, Sar Kheng praised the ASEAN Secretariat for providing its support and cooperation to Cambodia, ASEAN’s external partners and the bloc’s member states who have come together to achieve work in the core spirit of ASEAN with its motto “one vision, one identity and one community”.

Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post after the summit that at the ASCN meeting, each ASEAN member state with a delegation attending did a presentation on their smart cities that described all areas of their development. Cambodia presented on the cities of Battambang, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh at the meeting.

“This meeting is just to present the concept for the development of each of the participating countries’ cities to jointly develop techniques and technologies to use in each one. It is to exchange knowledge and – most importantly – I think it needs to be organised as ‘Smart City for the People of the Future’,” he said.

According to Sok Lou, the 5th ASCN meeting was important as a response to the spirit of the 33rd ASEAN Summit held in Singapore in 2018.

The meeting was attended representatives from 10 cities located in ASEAN member states and they set out plans for another meeting next year in Bali, Indonesia.