Integrated resource management in Asian cities: the urban nexus

Project description

Title: Integrated resource management in Asian cities: the urban nexus
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: China, Indonesia, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam
Lead executing agency: United Nations Economic and Social Commission Asia Pacific (UN ESCAP)
Overall term: 2013 to 2015


The urban population in Asia is growing by 44 million people every year. This presents urban supply systems and operators with huge challenges. Especially when it comes to water supply and sanitation, energy supply and efficiency, land use and food security, most Asian cities have already reached a critical situation, which makes sustainable development seem difficult to achieve. Municipalities in Asia usually plan and manage their activities along sectoral lines rather than in an integrated manner. Thus, they are unable to make adequate use of the interrelationship between the three ‘nexus’ sectors (water, energy and food security) or to fully exploit the resulting potentials and synergies for their implementation processes.

The issues of water, energy and food security, and their interrelationship gained heightened international attention during the Rio+20 Conference in June 2012. They now play a major role in formulating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and preparations for the HABITAT III Conference, which is to be held in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016.


The foundations have been established for integrated resources management in selected Asian cities. In these cities, institutional and human resources have been developed.


The project focuses on the topics of secure water supply and sanitation systems, energy security and efficiency, land use, and food security.

The main starting point is at the local level, with the municipal administrations and planning offices, as well as the utilities. Key players at the intermediate level include city associations, training institutions and non-governmental organisations. And at the macro level, the project works with ministries and other national authorities and agencies, which underpin its links to the international Rio+20, SDG and HABITAT III debate.

The consulting process involves political stakeholders at all three levels. The project supports its partners in designing, planning and implementing practically oriented nexus pilot projects. It also feeds its experiences it gains into a regional dialogue and learning platform.

The local and regional activities take place in the following partner cities and countries:

  • Ulan Bator, Mongolia (1,200,000 inhabitants)
  • Rizhao, China (2,880,000 inhabitants)
  • Weifang/Binhai Development Zones, China (9,000,000 and 1,000,000 inhabitants respectively)
  • Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat), Thailand (180,000 inhabitants)
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand (150,000 inhabitants)
  • Da Nang, Viet Nam (900,000 inhabitants)
  • Pekanbaru and Tanjungpinang in Indonesia (1,000,000 and 230,000 inhabitants respectively)
  • Naga City and Santa Rosa, Philippines (180,000 and 330,000 inhabitants respectively)
The lead executing agency is the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific, UNESCAP, while the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives – South East Asia is responsible for project implementation.


Some 14 practically oriented nexus pilot projects (known as ‘case studies’) have been identified in the Nexus partner cities.

Innovative waste water management concepts have been applied that are linked to renewable energy generation, the use of treated waste water for irrigation and treated sludge for organic fertiliser and compost in agriculture. This form of integrated resource management closes the loop between water, energy and food (including food security). Each city has a cross-sectoral Nexus Task Force to ensure its success.

Peer-to peer learning has strengthened the South-South dialogue, resulting in innovative, adapted, environmentally friendly and financially feasible solid waste management concepts, which convert waste into energy.

A regional Nexus learning platform has been established holding regional nexus workshops twice a year. The platform includes the corresponding national, regional and intermediate level organisations, as well as civil society and private-sector participants, international donors and other city networks.

Decision makers at various levels are now aware of how significant integrated, cross-sectoral resource management, public consultations and private sector involvement are for the creation of resilient cities.

Additional information