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Smart Sustainable Cities offer solutions to address key urban development challenges

Cities are amongst the biggest consumers of energy in the world, representing almost two-thirds of global primary energy demand. Cities also account for 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector. Through innovative integrated approaches including spatial planning measures such as planning green spaces or increasing green areas, and through the use of smart technologies, the environmental impact of cities can be drastically reduced and the quality of life of city-dwellers improved.

The multi-stakeholder project “United Smart Cities” and the UNECE/ITU joint initiative “United for Smart Sustainable Cities”, which is supported by 14 other UN Agencies and Programmes, help cities worldwide in addressing urban development challenges, supporting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the local level, with a particular focus on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11: "Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable". The Smart Sustainable Cities concept therefore represents a strategic vision for improving the way cities function and the ways people live. 

In the context of the recent Energy Ministerial and 8th International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development, UNECE, swissuniversities, the ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences and the Copenhagen Centre on Energy Efficiency, organized the event “Towards Smart Sustainable Cities – Integrated Approaches”, held on 14 June 2017. The event explored the use of technological innovation and the benefits of integrated approaches to urban planning and management in the promotion of smarter and more sustainable cities. In particular, it highlighted the key role of ensuring access to sustainable energy in response to increasing consumption in cities, helping to limit the environmental impact of urban areas and achieve a better quality of life for city populations.

Looking ahead as cities in the UNECE region and beyond seek to harness new technologies to support the implementation of SDG11, the concept of Smart Sustainable Cities must be seen as a combination of solution-oriented and integrated approaches based on technological innovation, enabling conditions from governments, broad stakeholder collaboration, innovative financing models and mechanisms, and active citizen participation.

In order to facilitate the transition to Smart Sustainable Cities, the use of key performance indicators and standards will be critical in analyzing the performance of urban areas and setting priorities and targets for change.

To learn more about UNECE’s work to promote sustainable urban development, please visit: http://www.unece.org/housing/urbandevelopment.html

To learn more about the United for Smart Sustainable Cities initiative and its Call for Experts to shape Smart Sustainable Cities worldwide click here.

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Domenica Carriero
Associate Economic Affairs Officer
Housing and Land Management Unit, UNECE
Email: Domenica.Carriero@unece.org