Smart Cities and the NUA

The world is becoming more and more urban each year. The vast majority of the world’s population lives in cities, a different case than 100 years ago. Even looking at the top 10 most populous cities, there is over 150 million people, or roughly 2% of the total population, that live between just those 10 cities. That does not include the metropolitan areas, which would inflate that number exponentially. Smart cities are cities that use technology and electronic data to more efficiently manage the cities. These cities are aimed to attract young adults through the integration of information and communications technology into the everyday aspects of the city, such as public transportation systems. Smart cities are becoming more and more prominent every year with more cities adopting smart city initiatives. Some examples of this include Madrid and Stockholm. Madrid adopted a policy called MiNT – Madrid Inteligente (Smart Madrid). Since the adoption of this policy, there has been significant improvement in sustainable and computerized management of city systems like garbage collection and recycling. Stockholm, like Madrid, has implemented citywide infrastructure policies. These include green buildings and traffic monitoring systems. Smart cities will continue to evolve in the years to come, getting more efficient and improving management with each new city.

While smart cities are clear and obvious examples of development, the New Urban Agenda focuses on the development of all cities. The New Urban Agenda is the global standard for sustainable urban development, causing us to rethink how we live in and manage cities. While some of the New Urban Agenda is basic, like providing access to housing and drinking water for everyone, parts are much more complex, like reducing the risk of impact for natural disasters. The New Urban Agenda is one way that the United Nations is using to achieve SDG 11, sustainable cities. With the world urbanizing, the need to address cities is great. The New Urban Agenda is a framework in which governments can look to when designing programs and improving infrastructure.

The Asian Development Bank published a report titled “Inclusive Cities” that helps to frame the history of urbanization in Asia. The report states that after World War II, there was a major influx of people in cities due to a spur in economic development. This influx of people put a strain on city planning and development causing a massive explosion in the slums, areas of the city where there is a lot of overcrowding and poverty. The Asian Development Bank highlights the amount of people in Asian cities that live in these areas, which ranges from about 30% to over 50%. This is one of the things that the New Urban Agenda aims to combat, allowing everyone to be prosperous and successful.

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