ASEAN Urban Systems
Understanding Nuances to Address Complexities
Is the ASEAN development misunderstood? MORROW Intelligence (MI)'s research explores the complexities and opportunities within urban systems across ASEAN cities to provide a more bespoke and appropriate lens.
ASEAN is Headed for a Liveable and Vibrant Future
Established in 1967, The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional trade bloc that includes ten Southeast Asian countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia.
ASEAN’s real GDP growth bounces back higher compared to world numbers
A key driver of ASEAN’s economic resiliency and growth is its growing and youthful labour force. ASEAN has the world’s third-largest labour force, behind China and India, and the region’s economic growth is projected to continue outpacing global GDP growth over the next two decades.
As seventy million people are expected to migrate from rural areas into ASEAN cities by 2025, it is imperative that ASEAN leaders understand the nuances, trade-offs, and complexities of how their urban systems will be tested and pushed to their limits.
Navigating Complex Urban Systems
While urbanization continues to drive growth in ASEAN, unmitigated development can result in challenges such as a rise in congestion, decreased access to municipal services and more people living in informal settlements.
A city consists of many interconnected systems (e.g. economic, social, urban, governance) that can be broken down into sub-systems (e.g. housing, transport). Each sub-system serves its own unique function, but also relies on the resilience and capacity of other sub-systems to remain viable. This leads to complex urban challenges.
The systems of the city interact and support its urban planning and development towards liveability
For example, the systems approach to tackling housing challenges must not only include the provision of affordable housing but also resident access to amenities and economic opportunities.
However, not all ASEAN cities are the same and face different urban development pathways.
Preparing for ASEAN’s Future Requires a Deeper Appreciation of Its Differences
This means ASEAN cities differ across socio-economic attributes from one another, let alone the rest of the world. Therefore, comparing ASEAN cities against globally defined benchmarks and expecting commensurate results is not compatible.
GDP per capita and socio-economic development vary greatly across ASEAN.
Urban and rural areas in ASEAN have vastly differing attributes – substituting country-level data to infer city-level impacts, or vice-versa will skew comparisons.
ASEAN’s diversity reflects a region that does not always conform to universal concepts of liveability. Therefore, developing meaningful interventions to improve cities requires a deeper look at the interconnectedness of urban systems.
Our Approach to Understanding ASEAN
MI adopts a systems-of-systems approach to appraising and tackling urban complexities. This approach measures the interconnections of urban systems to develop a modelling of the causes and effects of urban challenges against potential outcomes of policy interventions.
MI has identified three distinctive lenses that are bespoke and crucial to understanding and contextualizing ASEAN’s urban systems:
These lenses form the baseline for projecting how urban systems evolve. MI’s research takes the additional step to quantitatively and qualitatively capture the ASEAN nuances embedded within and the tensions at play.
Urban Insights Series — Future of ASEAN
MORROW Intelligence remains committed to shedding light on the evolving urban landscape of ASEAN cities. As part of our ongoing dedication to this vital area of research, we are thrilled to announce that the first installment in a series of reports, focusing on housing affordability and accessibility within ASEAN urban systems, will be released in the near future. Stay tuned for our upcoming reports, as we continue to explore the intricate interplay of macro and micro trends, providing valuable insights for a sustainable and prosperous urban future in the ASEAN region.