Campaign to urge 'smart' transition to sustainable cities


UN launches campaign to urge 'smart' transition to sustainable cities

Photo: UN-Habitat/Julius Mwelu

Source: UN News

26 May 2016 – Two United Nations entities have launched a global initiative to advocate for public policy that will promote use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) as a catalyst for the transition to smart sustainable cities.

The initiative, the United for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC), will assist the response to Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

Led by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), the initiative is open to all UN agencies, municipalities, industry, academia and other relevant stakeholders, and will focus on the integration of ICTs in urban operations and build on existing international standards and key performance indicators.

Many UN bodies have expressed their intention to join the Advisory Board of the U4SSC global initiative.

“ICTs have become central to innovation in almost every sphere of social and economic activity, making collaboration essential in maximizing the contribution of ICTs to sustainable development,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.

“We live in a connected world and we see new fascinating markets and products where physical products and services and digital technologies merge and move together,” said ECE Executive Secretary Christian Friis Bach.

“The digital revolution can help us create intelligent transport, smart energy systems, resource efficiency and transparent and open societies. It can help us create sustainable development. However, to achieve this we need trust and predictability, and we need common and neutral standards that can work across borders and technologies,” he added.

The U4SSC was launched at the ITU-ECE Forum on “Shaping smarter and more sustainable cities: striving for sustainable development goals” held in Rome, Italy, 18-19 May.

ITU and ECE presented a set of key performance indicators they have developed to measure the “smartness” and “sustainability” of cities, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Dubai, Singapore, Manizales, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Valencia, Rimini and other selected cities have already agreed to trial these key performance indicators.

The forum concluded with the Rome Declaration, which presents a 10-point manifesto for the transition to smart sustainable cities. The declaration promotes the use of internationally agreed key performance indicators and technical standards in service of sustainable development objectives in the urban context, and highlights the value of inclusive e-governance models and peer-learning among city leaders.