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UNECE Green Economy Seminar Discusses Sustainable Cities

UNECE27 November 2012: The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) held its fourth Green Economy Seminar in Geneva, Switzerland, on 27 November 2012. The Seminar, organized under the theme “Building the cities we want,” focused on energy, population and transport trends and challenges in European cities, with the aim of promoting sustainable urban development.

Two thematic panels convened during the seminar. The panel on “Energy, transport and technologies in cities” examined the experience and potential of “smart cities” and considered how information and communication technology (ICT) innovation can contribute to reduced resource consumption, increased energy efficiency and sustainable urban areas. The panel concluded that, inter alia: policies can promote energy efficient building standards and initiatives such as car-free city centers; city planners can influence and stimulate action; public-private partnerships represent a promising investment for infrastructure and real estate development; and cities are platforms for communication, organization and interconnection.

The panel, “Ageing and accessibility in cities,” discussed European demographic trends and examined the impacts of an aging society on urban infrastructure and housing demands. The panel noted that aging influences all policy areas and recommended, inter alia: active ageing as a policy goal; integrated approaches to urban planning; and participatory approaches, including older persons, to develop solutions.

Each panel included keynote presentations, case studies and an overview of UNECE activities. Participants included government experts, UNECE and other UN agency staff, academia and the private sector.  The Seminar was organized as part of the UNECE Sustainable Energy Week. [UNECE Press Release] [Seminar website]