Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development

2014 Global City Informatization Forum (GCIF)

Your Excellency, Minister Mr. Miao Wei,
Your Excellency, Mayor of Shanghai Municipal Mr. Yang Xiong,
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to address the 2014 Global City Informatization Forum (GCIF), which my Department is very pleased to co-organize with the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government.

This year marks the 10th time this Forum has taken place. The Forum has become an important arena for the exchange of information about innovative ICT and e-government solutions, applications and services in support of city informatization.

The rapid evolution of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and the brisk pace of city informatization makes the theme of this year’s Forum, “Smartness, Integration, and Convergence particularly relevant.

Urbanization is a powerful demographic trend worldwide. Globally, more people live in urban areas than in rural areas, with 54 per cent of the world’s population residing in urban areas in 2014. By 2050, 66 per cent of the world’s population is projected to reside in urban areas. Africa and Asia, still mostly rural, will urbanize faster than other regions over the coming decades.

Last Friday on 31 October, we commemorated with international society the first World Cities Day here in Shanghai.

Rapid urbanization poses serious challenges for maintaining and improving living conditions in cities around the world. Local governance and institutions must be prepared. Making “cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” is one of the proposed sustainable development goals within the framework of the post-2015 development agenda.

As you may know, at Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro, a global consensus was reached that to achieve sustainable development we need institutions at all levels that are effective, transparent, and accountable. Without significant innovation in local governance systems and institutions, cities will be unable to meet the complex and growing needs of urban populations.

The use of ICT in government holds tremendous potential to improve governance institutions. Advancing citizen-centric smart cities is vital for sustainable urban development. It can broaden public participation in decision-making, enhance access to information, promote fiscal accountability and remove barriers to accessing public services. The digital revolution can help city leaders collect and use big data to promote environmental protection, ensure better traffic management, fight crime, increase opportunities for youth employment, and promote better health care and education for all.

Smart cities require transformative leadership, enhanced integration and coordination of government institutions and services; collaboration and engagement of multiple stakeholders; innovative public-private partnerships; digital connectivity; and innovation for sustainable development.

The proliferation of innovations and smart city initiatives, especially in Asia and the Pacific, has resulted in a wealth of good practices and knowledge. Cities here in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Qingdao have recently launched open government platforms to provide citizen-centric online services. Chief Information Officers from the region will share insights on how to promote smart governance during a side event organized by my Department focused on advancing e-government development in Asia and the Pacific.

This global event is an important opportunity to foster cooperation among participating cities and regions, and thereby to help narrow the digital divide and promote sustainable development for all.

I wish you fruitful deliberations, and great success in your future endeavours.

Thank you.