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Dialogue 4

Frontier Technologies and Innovation for Inclusive, Sustainable and Resilient Smart Cities


New technologies, data, and the digital economy are increasingly transforming societies and making urbanization more sustainable. Over 50 per cent of the world’s population is now connected to the internet, and since 2018 there have been more mobile phone subscriptions than people.  These developments in digital technologies are playing a major role in shaping cities and changing the way people work and live – from the internet of things and sensor networks to digital platforms and tools for urban management and service delivery and the coming age of electric and autonomous mobility. The New Urban Agenda calls for adoption of a smart-city approach that makes use of opportunities from digitalization, clean energy and technologies.

Effective adoption of technology requires appropriate policies and regulation to ensure that it does not increase inequalities, raise levels of emissions or endanger human rights. The UN System-Wide Strategy on Sustainable Urban Development highlights digital transformation and new technologies as one of four frontier issues that require a coordinated response to mitigating these threats. 


UN-Habitat’s new flagship programme Frontier technologies and innovation for inclusive, sustainable and resilient smart cities will be launched at this session.

The global discussion on the intersection between urban technologies, smart cities, inclusion and human rights.

Guiding Questions
  1. What are frontier technologies and how do they relate to cities?
  2. How can technologies and innovation benefit small and medium-sized cities and cities in the Global South?
  3. What initiatives are required to close the digital divide?
  4. What are the risks related to frontier technologies vis-à-vis protection of human rights?
  5. Which technologies hold the most promise for achieving SDG11 and the New Urban Agenda?

Session Speakers