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Barcelona, 29 Nov 13

Picture copyright Smart City Expo
The city of Barcelona last week hosted the third edition of the Smart City Expo.

The congress program centered on five main themes including: Energy; Technology & Innovation; Smart Society and a Collaborative City; Governance and Economy; Sustainable Built Environment; Mobility; and, City Resilience and Security.

Smart City Expo and World Congress 2013, is regarded as one of the most important global meetings on urban innovation, and year after year has increased attendance of both, exhibitors and visitors from around the world. This year, the event brought together representatives from over 400 cities, 29 official delegations, 320 speakers, 162 companies and 9,000 visitors.

UN-Habitat was visible both in the Expo with a booth providing information the agency  and its two Barcelona-based projects; and throughout the events related to urban resilience, security and technology in the World Congress.  At the UN-Habitat exhibition booth, the team met many people from around the world who visited to find out more about UN-Habitat’s work in general; and specifically on issues related to the City Resilience Profiling Programme, and the Global Water Operators Partnership Alliance.  Notably new partnership opportunities arose with city representatives wanting to engage, and private sector companies exploring how to participate with UN-Habitat’s work on resilient cities.

During the session on ‘Urban Resilience Strategies’; Mr. Dan Lewis, Chief, Risk Reduction Unit, focused on two key aspects of city-based resilience planning and development namely the rationale for reducing ambiguity in measuring and monitoring urban resilience, and making the business case for investment in resilience agendas in all cities.  The session also explored experiences in Sendai following the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, and how civil society actors worked with survivors through their recovery efforts; the experiences of the City of Barcelona in developing and implementing its urban resilience action plan; the acute challenges of addressing aging critical infrastructure in New York; and how to re-think using ‘big data’ required for analyzing and measuring resilience.

UN Habitat, also brought to the World Congress its vision on the urban future, together with the key message that no sustainable development can be achieved unless a strong focus is placed on urbanization. 

Mr. Roi Chiti, Coordinator, WUF Substantive Programme presented at the parallel sessions on Rethinking Cities: Sustainable Cities on UN-Habitat’s City of the XXI Century: An Urban perspective to sustainable Development. He was joined in the panel by Ms. Ximena Nuñez from Chile; and, Mr. Daniel Ortiz, Mayor of Móstoles City Council from Spain.

After introducing the current global debate on sustainable development leading to the reformulation of sustainable development goals and the subsequent review of the global urban agenda in 2016, Mr. Chiti highlighted the main challenges and opportunities residing in harnessing the potential of urbanization, outlining the central elements of the UN Habitat proposal for more inclusive, productive, environmentally sustainable and resilient cities.

The Smart City Expo and World Congress combines substantive debate as well as an exposition of current and emerging technology developed to assist cities achieve sustainability and efficiency, while contributing to global challenges of urbanization, growth, green and carbon reduced urban centers.  These are essential elements of UN-Habitat’s new vision for cities of the 21st Century.

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