38th World urban development congress
Meriton Grand Conference & Spa Hotel Tallinn
The pressures of global population growth, increased urbanisation, aspirations for an ever-improving quality of life, and the urgent need to control CO2 emissions, coupled with the growing competitiveness of cities in their desire to build strong local economies, create an imperative for cities to innovate to become « smart » and to remain so.
It is estimated that while 50% of the world’s population lives in cities, that figure will be nearly 70% by 2050, leading to rapid growth of existing cities and the creation of some 9,000 totally new cities.
The « smart city » is one way of meeting the challenges of potential overcrowding, congestion, poverty, environmental degradation and low quality of life which are threatened by this phenomenal rate of growth.
Technological innovation is underlain by the presence of advanced information and communication systems (ICT), and signalled by the harmonisation of intelligent policies for investing in social and physical capital; promoting innovation and entrepreneurship; creating sustainable infrastructure and environments; reducing waste and the use of non-renewable energies; encouraging participatory action and engagement.
How are these innovation policies manifest in towns and cities across the world? What are their impacts and consequences – intended or unintended? How is comparative advantage achieved in results across these smart objectives? What are the tools of creation and measurement in the implementation of innovation strategy?
However, we cannot rely only on technological and managerial innovations to meet the various challenges posed by cities and territories. Today, urban or territorial development is not just a mater of technology; it is not enough to deploy hardware to find solutions to social and economic needs, to climate or energy emergencies or individual aspirations. Social and territorial dimensions of innovation play a role and have a place in a sustainable and equitable development at the local as well as other levels.
The parallel process of both territorial integration through metropolisation and local empowerment creates overlapping administrative perimeters putting into question the efficiency of existing planning tools, plans, programmes and projects, and governance systems. Metropolitan process requires conceiving innovative interactions between territories, actors and institutions both horizontally and transversally as weak or inappropriate metropolitan governance being a barrier to sustainable and equitable development.
These questions and related issues are to be the subject of the 38th Annual Congress of INTA taking place in Tallinn, Estonia, 25 till 27 January 2015.
Two days of intense debates are envisaged between delegates from around the world, plus technical visits to recent development sites in Tallinn. INTA will also promote policy exchanges and interactions, together with Business-to-Business opportunities and participation of key players from industry, municipalities, government agencies, academia, journalism and consultancy firms.
The INTA38 Congress puts innovation at the heart of its agenda: technological innovation (smart cities, technology for smart and sustainable urban development), social innovation (customer, consumer, citizen, co-producer of the urban future) and territorial innovation (relationship between the state and communities metropolization, governance, etc.)
The host city of Tallinn is, in itself, an exemplar « smart city » - described in the New York Times as « a sort of Silicon Valley on the Baltic» - with enlightened policies not only for the use of digital technologies, but also in the areas of culture, education, social innovation and cross-border economic collaboration with Helsinki and neighbouring Baltic cities. Tallinn’s Old Town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been listed among the top 10 digital cities in the world. The city was a European Capital of Culture for 2011, jointly with Turku in Finland.
Other cities - from South America, North America, Europe, the Nordic countries and Asia-Pacific – will explain their experience, aspirations and challenges in creating and connecting « intelligent cities ».
In Latin America, Medellinmade public its Charter on the human future of the world’s cities. The challenges are social, cultural as well as economic and technical: how to set an equitable urban society, economically distributive, socially inclusive, politically democratic and environmentally sustainable? How can hard and soft technology help?
The Nordic Cities, known for their equity and social welfare, their sustainable solutions and high ranking quality of life, nonetheless, are inviting us to look for a different kind of urbanity, a new urban civilisation that meets the people's needs in a globalised world. A break is needed with old ideas about forms of ownership, democracy, nature and the concept of growth.
Sustainable and Smart urban development are now considered as strategic objectives in North America as well as in the European Union. Four major criteria are critical: putting people at the heart of the urban project with priority to the quality of life; effective reduction of consumption of natural resources and integration of the various urban functions; strong and participatory governance; a process able to adapt to local cultures and contexts.
Asian Pacific cities are growing at an unprecedented pace stressing their infrastructure and creating significant congestion and pollution challenges. Cities in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, China, Korea or Japan are questioning the values and direction they take in urban development in particular in balancing the demand for services to people with strong ICT supply reflecting the priority given to an economic-based logic.
There is a need to consolidate and compare these various views of the city of the future and to mark the directions being taken in “smart-city thinking”. This attempt at consolidation makes the core programme of the 38th Annual Congress of INTA.