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Smart Cities for All: Opportunities for Low- and Middle-Income Cities

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The World Bank March 5-6, 2012

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Building on the success of last June’s Towards a Partnership for Sustainable Cities event, the World Bank hosted the Smart Cities for All workshop on March 5-6 at headquarters in Washington, DC. The workshop reconvened solution providers, thought leaders, and development partners to identify "smart city" and "smart climate" opportunities for the rapidly growing cities in low- and middle-income countries.

Image of Atennas in Slums

How can the developing cities of today become the smart cities of tomorrow?


Rapid urbanization presents an unparalleled opportunity to lift billions out of poverty. Yet this explosive growth also places enormous pressures on infrastructure, ecosystem services, and social development. These challenges -- combined with the pressing needs of climate change -- require cities to become “smarter” in how they provide services for their residents.

To help cities do so, this workshop went beyond specific business opportunities to explore concrete and integrated actions for cities in low- and middle- income countries. Specifically, the workshop examined innovations and solutions that can contribute to sustainable, pro-poor growth, while being integrated into the everyday complexities of a city. The private sector has begun to offer a number of promising innovations in this area, but vendors often find it difficult to work with local governments overwhelmed by short-term needs. Cities, in turn, find it difficult to separate marketing from reality and struggle to finance new services. The workshop explored ways to potentially bridge this divide and address these challenges.


The presentations shared at the workshop are available in the event's presentation icondocument library.

Participants shared their insights on (1) the most effective “smart city” and “smart climate” approaches for cities at different stages of development and (2) ideas on how the development community can leverage “smart” diagnostic tools to inform the design of development projects. Through roundtable discussions, the group focused on identifying the main constraints and roadblock to success and explored key opportunities for public-private collaboration that the participants can move forward on as a group.

The insights gained from the workshop will help inform the design of “smart city” projects and a planned “urban ICT toolkit.” The outputs from the workshop will also be shared with development teams on the ground and may contribute to the 2012 Urban Research & Knowledge Symposium in Barcelona as well as to the Towards a Partnership for Sustainable Cities paper that will be presented at Rio+20 (and which was the primary output of the last workshop).

participating organizations

- Development Partners: Cities Alliance, The World Bank, IDB, UNEP, UN-HABITAT, USAID;
- City Representatives: Metropolis, United Cities and Local Governments, C40;
- Solution Providers: Accenture, Alstrom, Cisco, IBM, ESRI, Philips, Shell, Siemens, Telecom Orange, Cisco, NTELX, CapGemini, Egis, PWC;
- Subject Experts: APA, ASCE, AAG, GCIF, Carbon Disclosure Project, CHF International, Degraeuwe Consulting, ecos, Evergreen, Anteverti, Global Urban Development, US Green Building Council;
- Governmental Partners: French Commissioner General for Sustainable Development, Korea Ministry of Land, Ontario Ministry of Energy, U.S. Deparment of Housing, U.S. Department of State;
- Academia: London School of Economics, Portland State University, MIT.

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