Vaughn Lowery, 360 MAGAZINE

2020 World Economic Forum

Cities Leverage the Fourth Industrial Revolution to Accelerate Achievement of the Global Sustainable Development Goals at the 2020 World Economic Forum

January 22, 2020 Lunch 12:00-14:00 Belvedere Hotel in Davos, Switzerland

This event will catalyze and advance a number of concrete, action-oriented projects on the 4IR and SDGs in cities. One is a major demonstration initiative on the 4IR and SDGs fully supported by the municipal leadership of Nairobi and Los Angeles, with generous seed funding provided by the Hilton Foundation. In addition, leadership from The Connective, the United States’ first smart region, highlights a model partnership between industry, the public sector, and academia as a way to accelerate the co-creation, testing, and delivery of technological solutions. Unlike many “smart city” initiatives, The Connective is designed to address its region’s most pressing societal and environmental problems from the bottom up.

The World Economic Forum has made a powerful case that we are in the midst of a 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR), characterized by a range of powerful, converging technologies that are transforming human life, business dynamics, government practices, citizen engagement, cultures and the environment. While technology has been a driver of economic prosperity, previous industrial revolutions also resulted in significant social inequalities and ongoing damage to our natural world.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were agreed to by the 193 member states of the United Nations in September 2015. The Secretary-General of the UN pointed out to the UN General Assembly in September 2019 that, given the current rate of progress, the world will fail to meet the goals by 2030. The Secretary-General called upon government at all levels, the private sector, civil society, media, and academia to dramatically increase their efforts and mobilize the corresponding resources towards achieving the SDGs, marking 2020 the start of a “decade of action.”

While nation-states were the signatories to the SDGs, it is the world’s cities that represent the greatest source of positive action in the decade ahead. Cities are the engines of the global economy and generate 80% of global wealth. It is estimated that 66% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050 with 90% of the increases coming in Africa and Asia. The achievement of virtually all of the 2030 global goals and targets requires concerted and comprehensive action in cities.

Indeed, many cities all around the world have already adopted, adapted, actioned and innovated on the SDGs. However, the emerging technologies of the 4IR enable cities to do much more, and the work can be done better, faster, and on a far greater scale. This event is designed to bring 50 global leaders from across sectors together to provoke new thinking on cities as drivers of more sustainable and equitable development, and cities as incubators for transformational 4IR technologies.

We stand at a critical juncture with an opportunity to put in place the multi-stakeholder partnerships, governance architectures, policy frameworks, and concrete actions by the private, public and non- government sectors that are needed to harness the 4th Industrial Revolution to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs, especially in cities. Join us and support a new movement for tangible action and catalyze innovative partnerships for positive change driven by technology.

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