ICEF 2019 Concurrent Session “Green Urbanization”

Posted by ICEF Secretariaton May 22, 2020


Ismail Serageldin (Chair)

Emeritus Librarian of Alexandria,
Founding Director of the Library of Alexandria

Dolf Gielen

Director of Innovation and Technology Centre,

Nishida Yuko

Senior Manager,
Climate Change,
Renewable Energy Institute

Nohara Fumio

Nikken Sekkei Research Institute

Jingjing Xu

Managing Partner and Founder,
Global Green Development Capital

Tareq Emtairah

Director, Department of Energy,
United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

Discussion Summary:

With over half of the global population lives in cities, where commonly said emitting 70% or more of the world greenhouse gas, cities have a very important potential for energy efficiency, notably in the buildings, and they play a key role in accelerating renewables. There is an opportunity for a very effective utilization and integration of new policy measures, new pragmatic approaches, new deployment of technologies that would make the cities themselves engines of moving towards renewable energy, reduction of carbon footprint for the cities, while at the same time giving residents a much better living standard than they would have had staying in villages all over the world, especially in places where the population has been projected to grow very dramatically over this century, where in fact therefore urbanization tends to mean very low-income developments. In the light of this situation, several important facts and keys toward sustainable urbanization were pointed out in the panel discussion as follows.

  1. Cities where urbanization is progressing, particularly in Africa, tend to become consumption cities, where the most of the citizens are living on cheap imported products and there’s very little opportunities for youth. It is important for these cities to become productive, and provide education and employment opportunities to young people.
  2. Local governments are positioning between the citizens and national government. A good aspect of local governments is that they are close to citizens and are able to understand their needs. Although they often lack budget and capacity and then have to manage in limitation, solutions can be found through collaboration between the cities, the national government and the stakeholders.
  3. Facilitating educational opportunities for all children can not only safeguard their human rights, but also mitigate rapid population growth as girls’ education has the highest correlation with reduced fertility according to past study results.
  4. The Beautiful Country program has been launched in rural areas of China. Firstly, the directive to strictly ban agricultural waste incineration has been implemented. Secondly, there are lots of green financing for taking the agriculture waste into bio energy program and subsidies for low-emission agricultural machinery. Additionally, there are programs that facilitate middle-class urban residents to spend their weekends in rural areas to help farmers, which contributes to education for farmers on better living and on how to be better environmentally sensible citizen.
  5. Regionally distributed energy system not only facilitate the area to be more energy independent but also enable them to get the economic benefit.
  6. Aging population is a critical issue and huge challenge. In China, the primary care doctors are not well trained and a primary care system has barely been in place. To deal with this severe issue, a primary care system employing AI and IoT has been introduced in China, which aids the local clinics and elderly population care.
  7. A basic IT infrastructure is required, because leapfrogging digital technologies and mobile applications enhance further technological innovation and entrepreneurship. There have been cases of local issues resolved by combining existing technologies. For example, in Morocco, entrepreneurs have come up with soil monitoring using mobile applications and simple sensors to increase the water efficiency of irrigation solutions, which became very popular. 

In conclusion, Cities can be expected to be the hubs of innovation with their diversity of people who can exchange ideas and who can come up with new solutions to new things. We have a lot to do in order to move towards not only there being net-zero carbon emissions, but also to adopt new approaches, new technologies, and new ways of living those lifestyles, so people live better, but in a less polluting fashion.

Chair’s message:

Re-inventing the city has long been an attractive project for those city-planners who would create utopia… but today we have learned that the cities of the future will be created with the participation of the citizens, and that technology will serve the human residents not dominate the urban landscape.  The integration of nature into the built environment and the provision of spaces for human interaction, that is what will create the green cities of the future with their caring and sharing outlook.