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Information and knowledge sharing to help resource managment

GeSI Staff | November 7, 2014

In today’s world we are confronted with major challenges: Climate change, economic crisis, nature preservation are some amongst the ones that we have to deal with. If we compare an aerial photo of the world today with the same image from 30 years ago, we will see from the light distribution, that urban centres are much more predominant. Urban metropolitan regions are growing at the unprecedented rate of 1 million people every week; cities do matter more than ever. By 2020, 80% of the population in developed countries and 51% in developing countries will live in cities

That’s the reason why achieving sustainable urbanization, along with the preservation of our planet, has been recognized as one of the major issues of our society in the coming decades. Urban areas reflect the complexity of our civilisation, where social, economic and environmental issues are tightly interconnected.
From October 19th to October 22nd, the World Resources Forum was held in Arequipa, Peru. The question of smart cities was debated in the special plenary session “Showcasing Resource Wisdom in Cities”, organised by the Finnish Innovation Fund SITRA.

Jyväskylä (Finland) and Kigali (Rwanda) were used as example of implementation of resource wisdom in Cities.

Antti Lippo (SITRA) and Dr. Pirkko Korhonen (City of Jyväskylä) pointed out the importance to alleviate the pressure for cities to struggle alone on this journey and the aim to enable them to work as a test-best for new solutions.

Dr Donna D. Rubinoff (City of Kigali) shared her experience with designing and implementing a master plan for a city in developing countries.

The need for action both at national and local level was mentioned by Dr Ton Bastein (TNO) as a condition to improve resource wisdom. According to him, the challenges lie in the understanding and implementation of the concept of circular economy.

What about ICT?

Today, it’s nearly impossible to imagine life without ICT, especially in cities. From internet to smart phones, technology has reshaped the way people live. In addition to the impact on the private sphere, they also play a role in managing our cities — smart buildings, intelligent traffic management, new efficiency in energy consumption and waste management. 

Luis Neves (Deutsche Telekom, GeSI Chairman) introduced what ICT can do towards more sustainable cities and what are the policies needed to support the roll-out and the large-scale deployment of ICT-based solutions in urban resource wisdom.

Cities are responsible for more than 70% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 60-80% of the global energy consumption, but as the SMARTer2020 report demonstrates, ICT solutions can enable 16,5% of CO2 emission reductions by 2020.

A number of policies are needed in order to support the roll-out and the large-scale deployment of ICT-based solutions in urban resource wisdom:

  • Investment in broadband infrastructure 
  • Cross-sector collaboration between the ICT sector and the transport, buildings and energy sectors in particular
  • Green public procurement integrating resource efficiency criteria in public tenders 
  • Investment in R&D and support to innovative technology pilots 
  • Increasing users’ awareness of ICT-based solutions to help facilitate behavioural change 

The discussion wrapped up with the following key points on how to foster resource wisdom in cities.

  1. Leadership has to be visible in every aspect of city management and to show people that change is possible
  2. Learn by doing: experimenting, creating, investing from small scale solutions to large scale visions
  3. Bring people together: education is the key for a better future and for a sustainable change 
  4. Make the systemic change happen in order to lead to legislative changes and institutionalisation nationally
  5. Fundamental behavioural change

Smart cities through a wise resource management are not unreachable and utopian visions. They are a here-and-now situation that is only achievable with the commitment of all the relevant stakeholders.

You can download the workshop summary here.

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