August 2020 - UN-Habitat in collaboration with Xinhua News Agency launched a new report on smart technologies for sustainable urban development in China. Xinhua broadcasted the launch, featuring speeches from UN-Habitat’s Executive Director and private sector leaders from China.

The Future Cities Advisory Outlook 2020: Urban Technologies in China report is the first report from the UN-Habitat China Future Cities Council (CFCC), an initiative convened by UN-Habitat China and supported by Chinese private sector companies with an interest on charting how digital solutions and technologies can create better cities and places leaving no one behind. The report was released in English and Chinese.

Established in 2019, CFCC is chaired by Lu Weiding, the Chairman and CEO of Wanxiang Group in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. Wanxiang Group, established in 1969, has 40,000 employees manufacturing electric mobility solutions and clean energy systems and is developing smart solutions for urban development.

The Vice-Chair of CFCC, Pan Shengdong, co-leads the Chengdu based high-tech company Xinchao Media, which introduced smart displays for residential elevators in China which also monitor safety issues such as earthquake events. Other Chinese companies, such as JD Digits, Huawei, AIpark, BOE and supported the report.

During the online launch, UN-Habitat’s Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif observed how e-governance is reshaping the relationship between governments, companies and citizens in many ways including the delivery of inclusive public services and with regard to digital rights. Noting that she had launched the CFCC initiative in Beijing in April 2019, the Executive Director welcomed the report and its contribution to the strategic results of UN-Habitat.

The launch video was moderated by journalist Zhang Yanfei. Chen Jun, representing Lu Weiding, focused on the importance of scientific and technological innovation in the development and transformation of cities. He explained that given the Wanxiang Group’s footprint in the industrial heartland of the Zhejiang Greater Bay Area, near Shanghai, it was developing comprehensive and integrated smart city technologies in the Innova City development.

Pan Shendong highlighted the speed at which, he said, well-conceived, well-developed e-solutions can be rolled out in China and transform daily living saying his company reaches 100 cities, 600,000 elevators and 200 million residents. When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, it broadcasted safety messages in its elevators together with UN-Habitat.  

The CFCC report reviews China’s emergent smart urbanization policy frameworks as well as the efforts of private sector companies to establish urban service platforms. It observes several trends with regard to the collaboration between city governments and the private sector, with a number of governance challenges ahead. The report also looks at the variety of urban services addressed by existing smart platforms and recognizes 16 different types of services, from mobility to energy management, from waste management to health services, and more. The report recognizes that smart technology is at the heart of urban innovation.

CFCC aims to continue working with Chinese high-tech enterprises, capturing valuable Chinese experiences and translating these into policy advice for UN-Habitat and beyond as well as acting as a communication platform.