Between 18 and 21 October, Habitat III – the third UN conference on urban settlement took place in Quito, Ecuador, and on its opening day, the Habitat III Conference welcomed 30,000 people.
The Habitat conferences are only held every 20th year, and this is the first time that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been on the agenda. Habitat III is important because it is where the international urbanization agenda for the next 20 years is adopted - “The New Urban Agenda” (NUA).
GeSI was represented, by Mario Cardenas, Country Lead from Ericsson, at “Smart Sustainable Cities: Where we are at and where we could be”, a “One UN Pavillion event” led by ITU, UNECE and ECLAC. The opening was made by G. Fowlie (ITU) and welcoming remarks were presented by the UNECE and the ECLAC Executive Directors. In addition to GeSI/Ericsson, guest panelists included the Community Lead of Infrastructure and Urban Development Industry, WEF, the CEO of Yachay City of Knowledge and the Head of Passenger Transport & Taxis, IRU.
The objective of the session was to share insights and to discuss how ICTs full potential can support urban operations and participation, smart sustainable cities and therefore be the key enablers for achieving the main objectives envisioned in the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Smart sustainable cities aim to drive inclusivity, accessibility, safety, innovative labour mobility, increased production and resiliency. The event also also the occasion to clarify the common understanding of what is a smart sustainable city and to demonstrate how international standards and Key Performance Indicators (KPIS) can facilitate the incorporation of ICTs to the objectives of the New Urban Agenda.
GeSI/Ericsson’s focus was to give an insight from the SDGs project and how digital solutions contribute to theimprovement of peoples quality of life, protecting the environment and fostering equitable growth.
The big change from now on and for the next 20 years is that the adopted New Urban Agenda (NUA) recognizes the need to adopt a smart city approach which is using the opportunities offered by connectivity. Furthermore, the NUA is also identifying as equally important the importance to ensure quality human development by building inclusive and participatory societies.
In other words, for the first time in history of international urbanization, ICT is recognized as an enabler to contribute to the development agenda brought by the SDGs.