According to the European Commission, cities are key contributors to national socio-economic and environmental performance. In the EU-28, about 70% of the population lives in urban areas, and this share is expected to further increase in the future. Furthermore, cities consume about 80% of the energy produced in the EU and generate up to 85% its GDP. It is thus pivotal to create an urban development plan that is both economically viable and environmentally sustainable. The growing “smart cities” movement aims at addressing these issues by rethinking the city according to a new paradigm of development. 

In 2012 the European Commission launched the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC), with the objective of supporting the implementation of smart-city solutions. The EIP-SCC Roadmap 2017 “Supporting Action Clusters’ Initiatives to deliver business cases and scale them up" identifies the key targets of collaboration among local authorities, industries, financiers and other key stakeholders, and includes key actions to assist different kinds of projects in their pilot phase for 2018, with the aim to replicate successful solutions in 2019. Additionally the Pact of Amsterdam, agreed upon by the EU Ministers in charge of urban matters on 30 May 2016, established the Urban Agenda for the EU, seeking to improve the quality of life in urban areas through dedicated Partnerships on concrete priority themes.

Achieving overall sustainability through smart cities requires a holistic problem-solving approach, integrating the most appropriate technologies, policy measures and funding sources. This would allow us to modify consumption patterns, improve energy production and distribution systems, increase efficiency in buildings and shift to different means of transportation. In this context, renewable energy sources, smart grids, building retrofitting and sustainable design, and public transport optimisation, all have a major role to play in fostering the transition, whilst the ability of digital tools to harness data from urban environments can be a key driver of future innovation.

This international symposium will provide an invaluable opportunity to engage with recent policy developments at EU level and scrutinise the future of smart cities globally. It will also enable delegates to analyse recent technological developments and suitable funding opportunities which can underpin the success of future transitions. The event will bring together representatives from the EU and national institutions, the private sector and the civil society  to share best practice and provide a broad range of perspectives.