World Cities Summit convenes city leaders and technical experts to chart the course towards sustainable urbanization
The decisions that city leaders make today will impact the lives of billions of urbanites for decades to come. Not only are cities home to half the world’s population – with that figure set to increase to 70% by 2050 – but the long life of urban infrastructure for basic services like water, energy, and transport means that the next decade is crucial for putting cities on the path to sustainable growth. Nowhere is this more pressing than in developing cities, which will be home to the majority of the projected 1.4 billion new urban residents by 2030, including 494 million in China and India alone.
These great challenges demand great leadership and innovative solutions. This week’s World Cities Summit – held in Singapore from June 1 – 4, 2014 – brought together city officials and thought leaders in sustainable urban planning and development to build partnerships aimed at achieving financially, environmentally, and socially sustainable urban future. Unified by the theme of “livable and sustainable – common challenges and shared solutions,” the Summit was a platform for sharing knowledge and best practices, highlighting game-changing initiatives from the over 120 world cities represented.
EMBARQ and the World Resources Institute at the World Cities Summit
Steer spoke at a plenary session entitled “The Next Urban Decade: Critical Challenges and Opportunities,” emphasizing the role of city governments in convening stakeholders and fostering innovation on the path to sustainable urban development. Prior to the start of the official Summit, Jagganathan moderated an experts’ group meeting on city-to-city learning and collaboration, which Lane participated in, contributing WRI’s expertise in urban development, planning, and sustainable mobility. Lane also led a roundtable at the first ever Young Leaders Symposium on changes in policy and planning needed to promote sustainable urban environments, and then presented the groups findings at a panel of over 120 mayors. All three participated in study tours of Singapore’s innovations in public housing, urban water management, sustainable mobility, and governance.
Setting the agenda for a sustainable urban future
As the sustainable mobility pillar of the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, EMBARQ recognizes the importance of unlocking the potential for cities to drive sustainable development and improve quality of life for people worldwide. In order to make sustainable transport and urban development a reality, cities must learn from one another. Platforms like the World Cities Summit – as well as others like the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group – that bring together city leaders and technical experts to accelerate this exchange are key to creating impact at the rapid pace and scale today’s cities need.
One such example of this exchange is the growth of bus rapid transit (BRT). Born in Curitiba, Brazil in the 1970s, BRT has since spread to over 168 cities worldwide and serves over 30 million passengers each day. The globalization of BRT is evidenced by its growth in China, where 17 BRT systems – most of which were built after 2008 – serve over 2.3 million passengers daily. The successful adoption of sustainable urban solutions, transport and otherwise, are not possible without a venue for city leaders to share what’s working and what’s not.
For Lane, the Summit represents a chance to turn these innovative ideas into reality:
“The World Cities Summit is a key venue for bringing together those with the ability to create change in cities. There are so many great ideas for how to make cities more livable, resilient, prosperous, and sustainable, and often the challenge lies in bringing those ideas to fruition. At EMBARQ and the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, we aim to help cities bridge the gap between knowledge and action. By convening mayors and city leaders from across the globe, the World Cities Summit develops this actionable knowledge base and helps to scale up solutions for sustainable cities and improve quality of life for billions.”
For photos, videos, and other materials from the 2014 World Cities Summit, as well as previous years, please visit www.worldcitiessummit.com.sg.