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Knowledge sharing key to Cardiff leading the development of international smart, sustainable cities

01 November 2013 #Environment

The opportunity for Cardiff to lead the development of smart, sustainable cities internationally was outlined last week at a conference hosted by Cardiff Council and the Commonwealth Environmental Investment Platform (CEIP) at Cardiff’s SWALEC Stadium. Attended by business and sustainability leaders from across the UK and internationally, the proceedings of the conference demonstrated the environmental and economic benefits available to cities, especially those in the Commonwealth, by sharing their expertise in technology, innovation and knowledge.

It is expected by 2050 the global proportion of people living in cities will rise to about 70%. This rapid urbanisation poses big challenges and many cities do not have a strategy to cope with this high growth. It is therefore essential that cities keep experimenting with new approaches to planning, energy production, traffic management and building infrastructure.

According to Tara King, Cardiff Council’s Assistant Director for Environment, “Cardiff today is a three planet city. If everyone in the world consumed natural resources at the rate we do in Cardiff, we would need three planets to support us.”

Consequently Cardiff Council aspires to become a sustainable “one planet city” by 2050 and this ambition will bring environmental, social and economic benefits to the city on an international scale. Councillor Ashley Govier, Cabinet Member for Environment, has described the sustainability of urbanisation as “a challenge around the world.” He believes that by leading the response to this challenge “Cardiff can be a driver in Europe and the world.”

Sustainable development can only be achieved when economic activity is geared towards social progress and is conducted within environmental limits. Conversely, without economic growth cities cannot deliver sustainability. Furthermore, cities cannot become a smart and sustainable in isolation. Michael Sippitt, Chairman of CEIP, has warned that “cities have to be managed better. There is a lack of expertise being shared across the world.”

Owing to economies of scale, cities are the best incubators for environmental innovation.  At the same time there are alwasys lessons to be learned from other cities – and, more often than many realise, the small ones have something to teach the large ones. Highlighting this, last week’s conference included case studies of best practice from across the Commonwealth. One such example is Victoria, capital of the Seychelles. Victoria is described by Alexander Melbourne, CEIP Hub Operator for the Seychelles, as “the first city in the world to embrace sustainability.” 100% of Victoria’s energy is generated from renewable sources.

Michael Sippitt has praised Cardiff Council for having the foresight to engage internationally and detailed the opportunities for Cardiff to link with other cities, particularly cities across the Commonwealth: “We have an extremely young, growing, entrepreneurial Commonwealth. Africa, for instance, is a continent of opportunity. Europe is missing out if it doesn’t participate in African trade. Cities need to be the contact points for building Commonwealth trade and investment. Cardiff has the opportunity to lead on this.”

 CEIP Cardiff

(Left to right) the hosts of smart, sustainable cities at the SWALEC Stadium:
Rogiero Verma (Chairman of RCS Wales), Kirsten Jones (Patron of RCS Wales), Boyd Clack (Patron of RCS Wales), Michael Sippitt (Chairman of CEIP), Cllr Ashley Govier (Cardiff Council), Verity Sharp (RCS)

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