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Sunday, April 14, 2013

SuperCities to reshape future urban infrastructure

In search of sustainable solutions, SuperCities bonded together at the ICLEI Global Town Hall @ Metropolitan Solutions – the paramount platform between cities and industry on smart and future-defining infrastructure solutions, held at the Hannover Messe in Germany on 8-12 April 2013.

SuperCities is a group of fast–growing and ambitious cities characterized by: a population of more than one million people and a commitment to sustainably maintain public infrastructure and services in an era of a shrinking economy, or to build smart infrastructure in a phase of rapid urbanization.

Current urbanization trends - rising populations, increasing vulnerability to climate change, urban traffic - are escalating pressure on cities to act rapidly. While SuperCities Johannesburg (South Africa), Recife  (Brazil), Suwon (South Korea), and Fortaleza (Brazil) are finding ways to address these issues, innovative technologies in green building, mobility, logistics, financing, urban management, waste, water, and energy are either already in place or are currently being tested by companies.

 “At the ICLEI Global Town Hall, ICLEI facilitated the matchmaking between SuperCities who got to know the cutting edge low-carbon, low-risk, eco-friendly industrial solutions, and companies who learned about the real needs and challenges faced by cities today”, said Gino Van Begin, Secretary General of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, the world’s leading cities network dedicated to sustainable development.

The City of Suwon Mayor Yeom Tae-Young, for instance, tested out a number of ecomobile vehicles suitable for the city-wide bike-sharing scheme. In September 2013, Suwon will host the first EcoMobility World Festival, a month-long event that will offer a peek into the future ecomobile city.

“By 2050, the urban population will grow by 70% - from 3.6 billion people today to more than 6 billion. There is already a huge demand for urban infrastructures, and this trend will continue in the future,” said Dr Roland Busch, CEO of the Infrastructure and Cities Sector of Siemens.

A host city for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the City of Fortaleza is now developing plans for building new infrastructures especially related to public transport. Others share the same demand: Suwon, Recife and Johannesburg all committed to invest billions of dollars to improve basic infrastructure services within the next decades. The solutions showcased in this year’s Global Town Hall have inspired these cities’ to commit to a more sustainable infrastructure development, starting with sustainable tendering and procurement.  

“We cannot relate with the experiences of megacities, they simply do not fit. We also cannot use the experiences of small cities. What we need is to explore solutions with similar cities, the SuperCities”, said DiĆ³genes Alexandrino, Vice President, Institute for Urban Planning of the City of Fortaleza, a SuperCity with about four million inhabitants in the west coast of Brazil.

Set on 7-11 April 2014, next year’s ICLEI Global Town Hall at Metropolitan Solutions will see more SuperCities and leading companies exchange ideas and solutions crucial to reshaping the urban infrastructure landscape of the future.