The Global City Informatization Forum (CGIF): ICT for Sustainable Urban Development

Message by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to address the Global City Informatization Forum, which my Department co-organized with the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government. I regret not being able to attend this important meeting with you.

The world’s urban population is expected to increase from about 3.3 billion people today to over 6 billion by the year 2050. The future of the planet is indeed urban. This is a powerful demographic trend. Cities are compact and efficient units of human activity, offering the potential to connect people, businesses and services in unprecedented ways. Nearly 80 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product is generated by urban areas.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) can lead to improved quality of life in many ways. Let me give a few examples. First, by expanding the reach of public services and improving the efficiency of service in all areas of local government. Second, by promoting citizen engagement in civic affairs thus promoting citizen participation in policy-making and enhancing accountability. Third, by supporting environmental protection, for example in the monitoring of air and water quality, sharing data and communication with local actors. Fourth, by promoting public-private partnerships through smart business systems and improved government administration.

Combining the power of ICT with the potential of sustainable urban development represents much more than a mere technological fix to the challenges of sustainable urban development. Through the design of citizen-centric e-cities, we can engage people in the process of envisioning and realizing more sustainable modes of living now and in the future.

The proliferation of local e-government initiatives, especially in the Asia and the Pacific region, has resulted in a wealth of information and knowledge. Let us take full advantage of activities such as what this Forum offers, to better build the capacities of local governments. Let us share best practices and lessons learned, and foster cooperation among local governments in the practical use of ICTs for sustainable urban development.

I wish you fruitful discussions on these very important topics.

Thank you.