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Background info: The UNECE region, which includes 56 countries in Western and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and North America, is characterized by high levels of urbanization. Almost one seventh of the world population lives in the region and it is expected to rise in the coming years. Municipalities and local authorities are facing big challenges represented by the climate change, the increase of the population, granting decent living conditions to citizens and rightly allocate the city’s resources. Through a multi-stakeholder platform which works on finding urban solutions for cities, the situation will improve and the cities can become smarter and enhance their resilience towards natural calamities and social issues. In order to help cities to address these issues, UNECE has just started a project on smart urban solutions in transition and developing countries in cooperation with the Organization for International Economic Cooperation (OiER), Environmental Agency Austria (EAA), Dubai Real Estate Institute, UN-Habitat, the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP), the University of Birmingham and the Estonian company Reach-U.

Definition: The “Smart city” is a concept with a broad meaning. A "Smart City" is for us a city that is dynamic in implementing sustainable initiatives. It is a city, which is able to grant affordable and healthy housing, and reduce its consumption of energy and emission of pollutants. It is a city which supports green, inclusive, healthy, compact, smart and resilient human settlements; promotes investments in its different sectors; and effectively manages its financial resources. It presents an integrated approach to planning and building, while supporting environmentally clean, affordable public transport, higher air and water quality and efficient waste management. It supports a sustainable management of urban land as well as transparent land and property registration.  Its efficiency is improved by the use of innovative technologies and ICT within the different sectors. Furthermore, it encourages the cooperation of different stakeholders operating in public and private sector, academia, NGOs, regulators, authorities, citizens.

Vision: Through this project we want to help cities in transition and developing countries to improve their sustainable growth while focusing on a more transparent and efficient use of their resources. We would like to grant them an easier access to new and affordable technologies and to enhance the living conditions of their citizens.

Objectives: The main objectives we have identified for our project are:

  • Demonstrate the conceptual and practical adaptability of “smart cities” to the socio-economic conditions of transition countries
  • Promote technological, innovative and cost-effective solutions
  • Establish partnerships and cooperation between several stakeholders in Europe and Central Asia and Middle East and Northern Africa
  • Develop a policy on smart cities, and subsequently guidelines and recommendations on the sectors in which a rapid progress can be made
  • Promote exchange of best practices on sustainable urban development
  • Develop new urban ecosystems which will substantially improve the inhabitants’ quality of life and make the most efficient use of the resources
  • Extend the concept of smart cities to low- and medium-income economies

For more information on the stakeholders, main activities, reasons for undertaking the project and events, please click here.