Building Inclusive Smart Cities

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This weekend in New Delhi, Habitat for Humanity India will be holding a two-day Urban Thinkers Campus conference entitled Building Inclusive Smart Cities. The conference aims to bring together academics, civil society organizations, industry experts and the public sector in order to discuss, share and solve issues of urban safety and sanitation, while addressing inclusive practices in the process.

The February 11-12th conference is taking place in advance of the highly-anticipated Habitat III International Conference in Quito, Ecuador in October of this year. The Habitat III event is organized by the United Nations General Assembly in order to “reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable urbanization” and “to focus on the implementation of a New Urban Agenda, building on the Habitat Agenda of Istanbul in 1996.”

With urbanization issues on everyone’s mind, the topic of Building Inclusive Smart Cities is the brainchild of the 2016 Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) – an initiative of Habitat for Humanity India and UN-Habitat’s World Urban Campaign. Described as an “open space for critical exchange,” the UTC is designed as a platform that encourages the cooperation of a number of partners in addressing some of the challenges of urbanization and opportunities in city-building.

Inclusion is a key issue at the conference, as India works towards finding creative ways of becoming truly inclusive to “all fringes of urban population.” A McKinsey & Company Global Institute report declared that by the year 2030, 590 million people will live in India’s rapidly growing cities. The speed at which the population is growing is also astounding. The report revealed, “It took India nearly 40 years (between 1971 and 2008) for the urban population to rise by nearly 230 million. It will take only half the time to add the next 250 million.”

With the country facing numbers as staggering as this, it is vital for India to find innovative solutions for fostering urban inclusion. Building “smart cities” is already on the agenda in India – which is why the title of the conference serves as a reminder to address the very necessary factor of inclusion, as well.

For more information on the sessions taking place at the February 2016 Urban Thinkers Campus on the topic of Building Inclusive Smart Cities, visit the schedule and follow their space for updates. We’ll continue to track this discussion and outcomes from this conference and its relevance to strategies for overcoming social isolation and building social connectedness here and in different regions of the world.