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UN speeds up guidelines on smart cities

By Edith Mutethya in Nairobi, Kenya | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-24 07:24

This photo taken on June 5, 2023, shows a view of the opening ceremony of the 2nd session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya. [Photo/Xinhua]

The United Nations has accelerated the implementation of programs aimed at securing a resilient, green and inclusive future for the world's cities and their inhabitants, with international guidelines on people-centered smart cities to be adopted in May next year.

The UN Human Settlements Program, or UN-Habitat, was tasked with the development of the guidelines during the second session of its assembly held in Kenya's capital Nairobi in June.

The guidelines will serve as a non-binding framework for developing national and local smart city regulations, plans and strategies to ensure that digital urban infrastructure and data contribute to making cities and human settlements sustainable, inclusive and prosperous as well as respectful of human rights.

Michal Mlynar, UN assistant secretary-general and acting executive director of UN-Habitat, said smart cities are at the center of how cities can be transformed for the future through innovation and bringing on board new ideas.

"The future of this planet is urban, and tangible progress is being made to secure a sustainable and safe future for our cities. We need better planning and policies to boost the quality of life for people living in cities," he said.

Edlam Abera Yemeru, director of the external relations, strategy, knowledge and innovation division at UN-Habitat, said the guidelines will be a benchmark, reference point and a practical tool to guide national governments, city and local authorities on applying and leveraging on digital technology for a better quality of life across cities for all urban residents.

"Digital technology is absolutely a necessary tool for transforming how each of us live in our cities, experiences our cities and how cities are managed and planned," she said.

Oumar Sylla, director of the UN-Habitat regional office for Africa, said cities worldwide are the cornerstone of economies.

While Africa is the least urbanized continent, Sylla said it has a fast urbanization rate with 47 percent living in urban areas and projections for a growth of more than 1 billion people to 2.4 billion in 2050.

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