The founders of the New Cities Foundation said it will respond to the rapid urbanization of the earth’s population by developing new models of partnership among high-level leaders in technology, energy, sustainability, infrastructure, telecoms, transport, finance, architecture, design, public policy and research.
The Geneva-based foundation will focus on countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America, with membership open to companies, local governments, leading research institutions and non-profits. Besides the founding organizations, members include Orange (France Telecom), GDF Suez, New York University’s Wagner School and India’s Gateway House think-tank. The organization is entirely funded by its members.
It will be chaired by John Rossant, the executive chairman of Geneva-based PublicisLive, which produces major international conferences such as the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The majority of humans now live in urban areas, with many cities experiencing unprecedented rates of growth, the foundation said. Cities worldwide are growing at the rate of two new inhabitants per second. That is equivalent to a city of the size of Salt Lake City, every day, the organization said.
This major global phenomenon comes with complex challenges on issues such as environmental sustainability, energy, transport and social cohesion, the non-profit said. But technological advances offer opportunities to create more sustainable, dynamic and equitable communities, it added.
The foundation is launching several task forces, each led by a founding member, to explore innovative solutions in pilot cities. Current task forces are focusing on mobility and transport, intelligent public buildings, waste management and e-health. Using a range of multimedia tools, these innovations will be widely shared, the organization says.
The foundation will hold an invitation-only, three-day conference, the New Cities Summit, in an Asian city in late 2011 or early 2012. CEOs, ministers, mayors and researchers will participate in the summit, which the foundation describes as “the premier global event for high-level exchange and innovation on the future of urbanization.”
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