Integrated Urban Services

Integrated Urban Services is a program under the United States-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (US-ASEAN) Smart Cities Partnership helping ASEAN cities build resilience in their energy, water, and food systems.

Solar Power Plant in modern city

The work is funded by the U.S. State Department and led by NREL.

This program demonstrates the socio-economic value and urban benefits of resource recovery and reuse through integrated systems (e.g., water, waste, energy, food) that promote greater efficiency, improve water and energy security, and mitigate public health concerns.

ASEAN cities are experiencing some of the fastest rates of urbanization in the world, creating new demands and stresses on energy, water, and food systems. Many cities in the ASEAN region are struggling to provide adequate drinking water, sanitation, waste management, flood control, electricity, and food security while demand for these basic services from industry and residents only increases.

These challenges are driving the need for urban planners and operators, service users, and cross-scale/cross-sector actors to inclusively rethink, reimagine, and redesign the infrastructure of urban environments with a renewed focus on affordability, reliability, resilience, and health. The availability of reliable and clean water and renewable energy, affordable fresh food, and safe sanitation services is key to ensuring environmental sustainability, public health, economic opportunity, and an improved quality of life.

Learn more about Integrated Urban Services by reading the program fact sheet.

Project Goals

Launched in January 2021, this 3-year project will:

  1. Educate stakeholders on circular economy approaches to enhance resource recovery and reuse and on opportunities to develop integrated models of basic urban services and food provision
  2. Provide technical assistance to two ASEAN cities to aid them in implementing circular, regenerative energy, water, and food system pilot projects
  3. Engage the private sector to promote sustainable market-based approaches in support of pilot project implementation.

Project Approach

This project will use a three-phased approach that will engage public and private sector experts to work with two self-selected US-ASEAN Smart Cities Program cities on a pilot effort to increase their energy, water, and food system security and resilience.

Phase 1: Stakeholder Consultations and Private Sector Engagement

The first year of the project included regional workshops and informational events that introduced the Integrated Urban Services program and pilot projects to regional stakeholders and engaged interested cities to understand their energy, water, and food system needs, priorities, and barriers to project implementation. 

Integrated Urban Services Kickoff Workshop – Day 1

Integrated Urban Services Kickoff Workshop – Day 2

Integrated Urban Services Kickoff Workshop – Presentation Deck 

Integrated Urban Services Pilot City Application Information Session

Following these events, cities submitted their interest to participate in the pilot program. Two cities were selected to implement a pilot project where targeted technical assistance, capacity building, and private sector partnerships can help catalyze investment and implementation of integrated energy, water, and food solutions.

Engagement with international, regional, and local private sector organizations is a critical part of program success. An Experts Group and Community of Practice will be established to serve as key resources to support this effort and to provide ongoing feedback and guidance on current research, best practices, and outreach. Dialogue with the U.S. and ASEAN business communities and regional stakeholders will be convened from the onset to broaden understanding of circular economy principles and to bring additional investment and technological innovation to the pilot projects and the region.

Phase 2: Capacity Building and Technical Assistance for Pilot Projects

In its second year, the project is initiating capacity building and technical assistance for key public and private sector stakeholders for the two selected pilot cities—Iskandar, Malaysia and Cagayan de Oro, Philippines. Through a series of workshops, webinars, and collaborative discussions, the Integrated Urban Services program provides opportunities to all participants, both public and private sector, to co-design solutions to address the cities' energy, water, and food system needs.

Assistance will be focused on a variety of topics, including:

  • Technological and nature-based solutions
  • Planning and design
  • Modeling and analysis
  • Government policy and procurement
  • Business planning and project finance
  • Implementation strategies.

The result of this effort will be the development of business plans to pique investment interest and outline actionable next steps for pilot project implementation.

Phase 3: Peer Learning and Capacity Building

The project will document and share experiences and case studies to help decision makers in the broader ASEAN Smart Cities Network promote and overcome obstacles to integrated energy, water, and food systems. Lessons learned and best practices captured through knowledge documentation and technical assistance activities will be shared at regional peer learning events and trainings. Regional information dissemination is aimed at helping scale implementation of integrated, regenerative energy, water, and food solutions through public-private and multi-sectoral partnerships.

Where To Start: Integrated Urban Services Planning

The Integrated Urban Services program, in partnership with ICLEI, showcases lessons learned from implemented projects in the ASEAN region. Experts from ICLEI’s Urban Nexus program and city officials involved in the implementation of Urban Nexus pilot projects discuss best practices related to kick-starting integrated urban service projects. This peer learning event was hosted on Nov. 28, 2022.

Governance and Policy for Integrated Urban Solutions

Panelists from across the Integrated Urban Services program and pilot cities discuss common policy challenges and barriers to integrated urban services projects, identify experiences and tactics project implementers can use to overcome these common policy challenges and barriers, and share policy and governance learnings from the Integrated Urban Services Program pilot projects. This peer learning event was hosted on March 28, 2023.

Project Impact

Integrated Urban Services is designed to help local city leaders, the private sector, financial institutions, and other stakeholders identify, design, and implement more integrated models that can sustainably secure energy, water, and food services in a resource-efficient, environmentally friendly manner.


Jennifer Daw

Senior Researcher

Helen Santiago Fink

U.S.-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership Program Manager