November 14 – 18, 2016, Tokyo and Yokohama - The World Bank’s Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC) program conducted an intensive five-day Technical Deep Dive (TDD) on Smart Cities, in collaboration with the Government of Japan, City of Yokohama, Y-port Center and the World Bank Social, Urban, Rural & Resilience Global Practice (GSURR) through the Smart Cities and Competitive Cities communities of practice. This was the fifth TDD organized by TDLC offering first-hand knowledge exchange opportunities for developing and middle-income country clients.
More than 30 participants including government officials and local experts from 9 countries (Bangladesh, Chile, Ecuador, India, Morocco, Mozambique, South Africa, St. Lucia and Tunisia) and 12 cities together with World Bank Task Team Leaders (TTLs) joined this TDD and developed a deeper understanding of what composes smart cities and what it takes to design, finance, implement, operate and maintain one.
Urbanization is occurring at an unprecedented pace. Today, more than half of the world’s population are urban and it is expected that a proportion to increase to two third of the world population by 2050. This historic population increase triggers global movement for smarter cities. A Smart City Approach boosts citizen engagement, innovation and competitiveness of cities, while ensuring that cities as the core engine of growth meeting the needs of present and future generations in economic, social, and environmental aspects and boosting shared prosperity among all social classes.
Delegations examined the concept of Smart Cities and its various schemes. Participants realized that smart cities development is now more than Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), it needs to incorporate numerous elements such as inclusiveness (citizen engagement), assured service delivery, sustainability, innovation and competitiveness- there is no fit-for-all smart cities solution. Participants learned various initiatives including Yokohama city’s successful model of open data innovation called “Local Good Yokohama.”
Delegations aslo visited Kashiwano-ha in Chiba to learn about its well-integrated smart cities development made possible by Public-Private-Academic-Partnership (PPAP), and with City of Yokohama officials to learn how the city came from the rapid urbanization in 1960s to 1970s offering large basic infrastructure and transportation projects, then conducted urban center development in Minato Mirai 21 district, and recently known for conducting the Yokohama Smart City Project.
TDLC was honored to host and organize the first World Bank Smart Cities Conference in Japan, in close collaboration with the City of Yokohama during the 4th day of TDD. Approximately 200 people from municipal governments, private sectors, academia in addition to participants of this TDD joined the conference, and actively discussed smart cities from different perspectives, with sustainability and quality of life as its central themes in addition to economic and social benefits.
As a cap-stone of the week, delegates attend the 5th Annual Asia Smart Cities Conference which was organized by the City of Yokohama and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). During the conference, one of the key challenges identified of smart cities development was around the financing of sustainable Smart City approaches. Financial and technical support from the Government of Japan and multilateral institutions including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank is indispensable in realizing Smart City aspirations
Throughout the TDD, participants learned that there is no one-size fits all approach to Smart Cities development, and that addressing social inclusiveness, livability, sustainability and competitiveness which creates job opportunities in addition to further ICT innovations are crucial components. TDD delegations developed practical action plans containing key takeaway, challenges, approaches, next steps, and desired future support from TDLC, Japanese counterparts and the World Bank.