Nairobi/Amman 15 July 2016-UN-Habitat, the United Nations organization responsible for human settlements and Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization (TAG-Org), a leading global professional and education services firm, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to carry forward the "Network Eleven Initiative." The Network Eleven Initiative was launched last year under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG 11): to build by 2030 ‘inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable urban settlements and cities’.

The MoU was signed by HE Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, and HE Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, chairman of TAG-Org, in their capacities as the Co-Chairs of Network Eleven Initiative to provide a framework of cooperation through the Network as a multi-stakeholder platform to achieve Goal 11, with a focus on the use of digital technologies for building sustainable urban settlements and cities. The cooperation aims to achieve practical results by helping develop capacities of countries and cities in using digital technologies for urban policy-making and planning, developing a knowledge-sharing and collaborative platform; training on the use of IT in urban settings; promoting public-private partnerships in cities to deliver sustainable urban development including the efficient and equitable delivery of basic services such as water, sanitation, energy and mobility; generating new thinking and ideas and proposing priorities.

The MoU will support key elements of the digital dimension of the New Urban Agenda that will emerge from the Habitat III conference in Quito in October 2016. Partnerships to harness digital technology Dr. Clos noted that “The world is already urban, with the majority of the world’s people live in cities today. Planned urbanization provides an avenue for sustainable social and economic development. However, the high rate of urban growth continues and far outpaces the capacity of many governments to plan and manage this growth in a sustainable manner. Network Eleven is a practical partnership to help harness digital technologies for sustainable urbanization.

The Digital Technologies for Sustainable Urbanization Network (Network Eleven), which will support implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG 11) to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” was launched in a special ceremony held in Barcelona, Spain in 2015. Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh also said that smart cities would not only be more sustainable, but could also turn into urban hubs of digital creativity, generating wealth and jobs, combating climate change with innovative digital solutions and addressing the age-old problems of poverty, disease and ignorance.

Bringing the private sector on board would help mobilize investments in digital technologies for sustainable urban development, generating new revenue streams and creating synergies among stakeholders for efficiency gains and cutting duplication and waste. Network Eleven held its inaugural meeting in New York and in Barcelona in November 2015 attended by a large number of Ministers, urban and business leaders, policymakers, planners, architects and IT experts.