urban population is growing at a rapid pace and creating the largest sustained
migration in the history of humanity. Over the next 20 years, Asia’s cities are
expected to grow by an average of 42.7 million people per year. Due to this
incredibly fast urbanization, many city leaders are overwhelmed with addressing
arising critical problems and are left without the capacity to reflect on
bigger picture issues. This is where collaboration between the public and
private sectors can play a powerful role in helping cities to thrive.
As the new
Secretary General of CITYNET, I am thrilled to be attending the 2013 CITYNET Seoul Congress this week alongside city officials,
civil society leaders and urban activists across the Asia-Pacific region to
share best practices and highlight opportunities to help cities become more
innovative and people-friendly. With 131 cities and organizations in more than
20 member countries, CITYNET connects local governments, civil society and the
private sector to exchange knowledge and build people-centered sustainable
cities across the Asia-Pacific region.
In my role,
I want to focus on a new narrative that centers less on the chaos of rapid
migration and more on the boundless opportunities that urbanization brings to
Asian cities, and the appetite for change I’ve witnessed across the region.
Over the last 10 years, globalization has resulted in cities becoming
increasingly important market hubs and has provided younger generations with
enormous energy and potential to improve cities. I am a strong believer in the
power of citizens – not just the educated and technology savvy – but all
citizens. I believe that with our growing cities and expanding consumer bases,
citizens have the passion and ability to change things for the better.
is an important tool to empower cities to become people-friendly. Access to the Internet and ‘easier to use’
development environments have already empowered hundreds of thousands of youth
and developers to create cloud based mobile apps across the region that provide
solutions to issues cities face. In addition to mobile apps, technology
solutions can support good business practices, help improve governance and
raise transparency to ensure that citizens’ needs are being met.
As a part
of the new narrative for Asian urbanization, I see technology playing an
essential role in tracking and measuring data on everything from government
processes, to citizen services and social and economic development – city
indicators leaders care about. The private sector can help cities stay one step
ahead by ensuring innovative solutions that leverage the power of big data,
social media and cloud computing are continually implemented across
governments, businesses and schools.
has joined us at the CITYNET Seoul Congress to present their Microsoft CityNext Initiative, an engagement model where
Microsoft and their partners work closely with cities to apply innovative
solutions with the goal of empowerment – for governments, citizens and
businesses. I support this people-centric approach to transform operations and
infrastructure, engage citizens and accelerate innovation. Microsoft CityNext
fosters strategic partnerships to help city leaders develop sustainable cycles
of innovation, opportunity, and progress to achieve ‘What’s Next’ for their
together with private sector companies like Microsoft, city leaders and
citizens, I believe cities across the Asia-Pacific region can harness the
ideas, solutions, motivation and expertise to create more sustainable and
people-friendly places to live. I look
forward to collaborating with fellow leaders from around the world this week
who also share this passion for empowering the ever-growing citizens of Asia’s
cities to facilitate urban innovation and positive change.
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