Smart sustainable cities need to ensure that vulnerable populations are not left behind in the drive for technological progress, international child protection and sustainable development expert Joanna Rubinstein said Tuesday.
Addressing a gathering of international mayors of the World Smart Sustainable Cities Organization (WeGO), Rubinstein said that the world had been pushed off track by COVID-19, the war in Ukraine and extreme weather events.
“Not surprisingly, in these challenging times, smart sustainable cities emerge as beacons of hope demonstrating that progress is possible even in the face of calamities,” she said.
A former President & CEO of the World Childhood Foundation, Rubinstein, is based in Stockholm where she chairs the Board of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
She also has roles with The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, The Early Childhood & Peace Consortium, World Economic Fund Global Coalition for Digital Safety, International E-Sports Committee, and the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute Advisory Board.
“The pandemic taught us that connectivity and ICTs are crucial for all aspects of our life on this planet,” Rubinstein said. “It highlighted the importance of urban leadership in supporting our most vulnerable populations and in speeding the recovery processes. However, today, even in the smartest of the smart cities, the focus is mostly on climate and energy transition, transportation, business, and entrepreneurship,” she said. “5G networks and meaningful deployment of Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things can do wonders in ensuring that we don’t leave our vulnerable populations – our children, our elderly and those with disabilities – behind.”
Participants at the WeGO General Assembly from member cities and organizations from around the world discussed the key agenda for smart sustainable development and charted the direction of WeGO for the next three years.
WeGO’s secretariat in Seoul is headed by Secretary-General Park Jung-sook.
Seoul City was selected to continue to serve as the presidency of the organization in the absence of other applicants and new regional offices were approved for Almaty, Abu Dhabi, and Cuenca.