Istanbul 14 July 2016—UN-Habitat Deputy Executive Director Dr. Aisa Kirabo Kacyra in June attended the opening of the Smart City Expo in Istanbul, organised by Istanbul Municipality and Fira Barcelona. The event was opened by Former Spanish Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero and Mayor Topbas of Istanbul. According to the Deputy Executive Director, Istanbul held a special place for urbanization because it was there that Habitat II was adopted 20 years ago.

“Today, 20 years later, urbanization is at the heart of the UN discussions, 5 months before the adoption of the New Urban Agenda in Quito, in Habitat III. Since Habitat II in Istanbul in 1996, the world has been urbanizing at a very high pace and we are becoming a planet of cities,” she said. Dr. Kacyra said the adoption of a specific goal dedicated to cities, Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals, was a clear commitment to sustainable cities and sustainable urbanization.

“It is now time for us to move from aspiration to action, if we want to improve the quality of life of the additional 3 billion people that will inhabit our cities,” she said. Since Habitat II, she said, the world had also witnessed unprecedented development on Information Communication Technologies, adding that the world now lives in an era of global telecommunication tools.

“While Cities are engines of economic growth accounting for 80% of Global GDP, currently there are more than 3.2 billion people are using the internet. Countries and cities in different stages of development can gain from current and emerging technologies,” she said.