The world’s urban population is expected to double by 2050. By 2030, six out of every ten people will live in a city and by 2050, this figure will reach seven out of ten. In real terms, the number of urban residents is growing by nearly 60 million people every year. This rapid urbanization leads to immense pressure on cities’ infrastructure, social fabric and their overall natural environment. With ever-increasing growth of cities and their population, the citizen’s demand for basic amenities such as water, energy, infrastructure and clean environment is increasing correspondingly. It is essential that the public administrations, while ensuring state of the art amenities for their citizens in rapidly developing cities, also ensure that this development does not have adverse impact on the environment. The World Bank has been emphasizing on compliance with green growth oriented policies and implementation frameworks in majority of the projects funded by it. To ensure green growth oriented development, in depth understanding of its determinants and hurdles is essential.  Green growth can be defined as “fostering economic growth and development while ensuring that the natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which our well-being relies.” 

World Urbanization Prospects
Source: World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision, United Nations

The framework for green growth enabled Smart Cities approach must catalyze investment and innovation which will underpin the twin objectives of sustained growth and new economic opportunities. The progress towards sustainable Smart Cities that equally promote the objectives of green growth need to be measured through indicators that monitor trends and structural changes.  The monitoring and evaluation of progress indicators must also direct attention to issues that require further analysis and possible policy action.

The integration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in urban planning and development is increasingly considered as an innovative way to improve efficiency and life standards while minimizing the environmental impact and preserving the planet for future generations. This has led to the development of the concept of “Green Growth Smart Cities”.

But how is this done? Can smart city leaders and partners understand and marshal their experiences so they themselves, as well as other aspiring smart cities, can learn from both mistakes as well as from best practices? This is an urgent challenge to reduce the time and resources required and perhaps short circuit development paths and leapfrog into a better and more sustainable future for all who live in, work in and use cities.

Globally there are many definitions of and approaches to smart cities, as well as strongly complementing many related city concepts, including for example: Intelligent City; Knowledge City; Innovative City; Creative City; Sustainable City; Digital City; Eco-City; Green City; Open City; and Resilient City. However, the smart city concept has become predominant amongst the many variants, and the most widespread definition examines six axes or dimensions of smart cities[*]:

  • Smart Economy
  • Smart Mobility
  • Smart Environment
  • Smart People
  • Smart Living
  • Smart Governance 

In the longer term, it might also be relevant to relate smart city knowledge mapping to the United Nations Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, agreed in Paris in September 2015. Of relevance is SDG 11 which aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable by 2030. SDG 11 has several targets which, in summary, include:

  • Ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services; and upgrade slums.
  • Provide access for all to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems.
  • Enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management.
  • Significantly reduce the number of deaths, the number of people affected and economic losses caused by disasters (including water-related disasters), with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations.
  • Reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal, and other, waste management.
  • Provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible green and public spaces, in particular for women, children, older persons and persons with disabilities.
  • Support positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, per-urban and rural areas by strengthening national and regional development planning.
  • Substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans.

[*] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/etudes/join/2014/507480/IPOL-ITRE_ET(2014)507480_EN.pdf