By 2050, two-thirds of humanity will live in cities. How do we brace for impact?

A view of a busy street in Nakuru, Kenya. Photo by: ViktorDobai / CC BY-NC

By 2050, nearly two-thirds of humanity — more than 4 billion people — will live in cities. How should the world’s urban centers brace for impact — and ensure quality of life for the people who call them home?

The answer? We need to make our cities smarter.

Over the past six weeks, we’ve teamed up with partners to tackle these questions through the Smart Cities digital series. We heard from mayors, urban planners and global development professionals who work each day to address the challenges of urban growth in cities around the globe.

Before the series wrapped this week, Devex hosted a Twitter chat with the Smart Cities partners and leading development voices to highlight the most pressing insight and promising ideas to keep the world’s cities work for the people that call them home.

The expert panelists included:

Dr. Joan Clos, executive director, UN-Habitat and Secretary-General of Habitat III

Jean-Micheal Huet, partner, Bearing Point

Ede Ijjasz-Vásquez, senior director, social, urban, rural and resilience global practice, World Bank Group

#SDG11 calls for cities and human settlements to be inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. What’s at stake if we don’t meet this goal?

• “Air pollution will continue to increase uncontrollably. It's estimated to have caused 3.7 million premature deaths in 2012” @UNHabitat

• Natural disasters claimed 1.3M lives '92-'12. The #goodnews is that deaths can be prevented http://wrld.bg/c6Mp306OZGx   @Ede_WBG

• Poorly managed urbanization is a risk to humanity: social inequality, poverty, insecurity, pollution, climate change @Joanclos

See all the answers for question one here.

African cities and mayors emerged as key players in the Smart Cities conversation. How are these cities uniquely placed?

• Developing countries, especially sub-Saharan Africa (55 percent) has the highest number of urban slum dwellers in the world @UNHabitat

• African cities and metropolis can play a role of a territory of creation and experimentation. They are not only catching up but went further, customizing technology to the behavior of their citizens  @Metropolis_org

• Well-planned urbanization in #Africa should become the main driver of economic, social and environmental transformation @Joanclos

See all the answers for question two here. 

What are the biggest debates among Smart Cities experts? Are there issues the community doesn’t see eye-to-eye on?

• Definition and scope of #SmartCities are not clear enough and we see different points of view. We are at the beginning of the story! @BearingPoint

• The main debate is that #SmartCities aren't just a tech. issue or an end in itself, but a tool to improve citizens' quality of life. @Metropolis_org

See all the answers for question three here. 

A shift in modern urbanization will cost cities money. How can cities finance the costs?

• Good urbanization should NOT be approached as a cost, but as an investment. Read @UNHABITAT report http://bit.ly/2p0xgw6  @JoanClos

• Firstly, with the aid of donors but after the stake is to develop a sustainable business model where #smartcities monetize data and services @BearingPoint

See all the answers for question four here. 

Sustainable transit, IOT and eco-cities are just a few Smart Cities trends we highlighted this past month. What smart city trends are you most excited about?

• Citizen engagement enabled by technologies and linked to urban planning is an exciting #SmartCities trend @Ede_WBG

#DEM aka Digital Ecosystem Management, the platform economy adapted for #SmartCities  @BearingPoint

• @UNHABITAT is using games like Minecraft to make urban planning and design more accessible to youth http://blockbyblock.org  @JoanClos

See all the answers for question five here.

Over six weeks, Devex — along with our partners Agence Française de Développement, BearingPoint, UN-Habitat, and XII Metropolis World Congress — will explore what it takes to build a successful smart city, how climate resilient and environmentally friendly infrastructure and technologies are being implemented, and how actors in the global development community are working together toward common goals and engaging local communities in an inclusive way. Join us as we examine what it takes to create our smart cities of the future by tagging #SmartCities and @Devex.

You have 2 free articles left
Log in or sign-up to unlock all of the free news on Devex.

About the author

  • Umuhumuza carine 1

    Carine Umuhumuza

    Carine Umuhumuza is the Associate Director of Communications at Devex. She has launched over a dozen major campaigns in partnership with leading communicators from a range of development agencies, major corporations, NGOs, and social enterprises. Her passion for connecting people and creating impact through stories is homegrown, inherited from her father — a journalist at one of the leading newspapers in Rwanda. Carine got her journalism and storytelling chops at Syracuse University's Newhouse School and moved to D.C. to start her career in social media and digital strategy. Starting her career at the cusp of the social media boom, Carine has a digital-first approach for storytelling and content curation. As the resident social media guru, she's often an early adopter of new tools and techniques for storytelling, mastering them and teaching others how to use them too.