Have you ever heard of ‘smart cities’? It’s a contemporary expression that designates good, effective urban planning which uses technology and creativity to solve perennial urban problems such as air pollution, traffic control and energy consumption. Forget flying cars – although they could play a role in future cities – and think about planning, data analysis and efficient use of resources.

Photo: UNDP

We are now almost 4 billion people living in cities, more than half the global population. And urbanization keeps growing – 1 billion more will move to or be born in cities in the next 12 years. It’s a logical trend. If living in cities would mean more access to jobs, healthcare services and quality education, then it would be a reasonable outcome that millions of people would prefer to live in urban areas. Yet, it’s not always the case. Many cities still provide poor public services and infrastructure and thus have to face such challenges as the proliferation of slums, or air pollution, or again inequality and violence. How to address the challenge? Innovation and sustainability are the key words to make the SDG 11 a reality.

The good news is that in 2017, 149 countries have been developing national-level urban planning programs, many of which are using available and inexpensive technologies. In the last 17 years, some things did change for the better. The proportion of urban population living in developing country slums fell from 39% in 2000 to 30% in 2014. More cities are supporting healthier lifestyles, calling people to use cleaner means of transportation. Others are implementing incentives to reuse and recycling waste, as well as running water saving campaigns. Still, management of waste and air pollution, for instance, are below World Health Organization acceptable levels.

Universities, governments and international organizations are working together to come up with ideas that tackle the many issues urbanization imposes. There is no panacea, as each community faces its own specific challenges and, ideally, the best solutions have to be worked out internally, best in cities that are hubs of innovation and diversity.

Horyou community is passionate about Smart Cities. Both SIGEF 2016 in Marrakesh and SIGEF 2017 in Astana panels covered extensively the topic and helped trigger important discussions about the future of transportation, energy and sustainable construction. SIGEF 2018, due to take place in Singapore, will, in turn, bring together experts, government officials and organizations to propose sustainable solutions and replicable ideas that are liable to make our cities better places to live. It’s Horyou’s commitment to a society that we aspire to build together!

If you want to be part of SIGEF 2018, read more about the #HoryouLightChallenge. You can choose the SDG11 or any other, promote your post on social media and win an all-inclusive trip to SIGEF in Singapore, in September 2018!

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