Pathways for sustainable cities of the future

Technology focus

Exploring opportunities for smart city infrastructure

Given that over half of the global population is living in cities, urban challenges are already enormous today. Cities contribute 75% of global energy-related CO2 emissions. Cities are key hotspots regarding their vulnerability to adverse effects of climate change. Over 800 million urban dwellers live in slums. Millions of urban dwellers in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are still without access to electricity. And with urban expansion to occur for the biggest part in developing countries over the coming decades, resilient and sustainable urbanisation is an even more enormous task for cities in that part of the world.

This thematic cluster will focus on opportunities for smart city infrastructure in the developing world, and how these can enable pathways for more sustainable cities. In particular it will look into the key technology options related to intelligent urban transport, smart buildings, clean urban energy systems, effective urban space planning and waste management. By exploring the lessons learned from cities in developed countries and from South-South cooperation on the operationalization of technological solutions, the theme will address the use of science, technology and innovation to open up leapfrogging opportunities.

Potential impact on SDGs


SDG 11 calls to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Progress is indicated by e.g. the access to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services, the access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems, the capacity for integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management, the proportion of urban solid waste regularly collected and adequately discharged, and the reduced number of deaths and number of people affected by disasters. All these indicators are directly affected by the availability of smart city infrastructure to deal with urbanisation challenges.

Partners include