The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), representing ten (10) Member States in Southeast Asia, is home to over 642 million people and has a combined GDP of US$2.77 trillion. With a robust real GDP growth of 5.3% year-on-year in 2017, the region becomes an important economic force in Asia and a driver of global growth. As a result of the economic development, it is expected that ASEAN will require more energy, which currently depends on fossil fuels. The ASEAN Centre for Energy (ACE), through the 5th ASEAN Energy Outlook (AEO5), projected that the energy demand is expected to grow as much as 2.3 times over long-term projections to 2040, to cope with 4-5% economic growth every year.
With projected dominance of fossil fuels, ASEAN is poised to become one of the big contributors to global warming. At the same time, ASEAN is also at a risk from the impact of climate change with lesser ability and capacity to cope with its effects compared to other regions. Some governments, already faced with financial constraints, will be confronted with additional costs associated with climate change mitigation and adaptation in the future.
Cities are a significant part of the climate change equation, as they are the centres of economic activities that consume high energy demand and produce high CO2 emissions as a result. Almost half of the ASEAN's population is currently living in the city and it was estimated that 90 million more people will move to its cities by 2030, making cities even more energy intense and polluted. That is why it is important to explore the possible solutions that digitalisation could bring to make cities ‘smarter’ and more energy efficient. The Roundtable will further discuss the various practices and initiatives of smart cities in ASEAN, to see how digitalisation can ensure that smart, sustainable urban planning is accessible to all.