Digital Innovation, Climate Change and Cities: UNITAC Hamburg at Urban October 2021

On 21 October, UNITAC Hamburg organized a virtual event as part of Urban October 2021. The session explored three of the most impactful developments of our times: Climate change, urbanization and digital innovation. Cities of all sizes are growing rapidly and urban areas are responsible for around 70 per cent of global carbon emissions. Urban inequalities are increasing with huge numbers of urban dwellers lacking access to adequate housing, basic services and civic rights. At the same time, the effects of climate change manifest themselves through more and stronger extreme weather events in all parts of the world, with the worst impacts on already marginalized communities. Cities and urban communities need to urgently find ways to reduce emissions while adapting to the effects of climate change and becoming more resilient. New technologies and the digital transformation of society can take us to the low-carbon cities that are needed, but progress is currently too slow to meet the ambitions of the Paris Climate Agreement.

In the session, the panelists discussed how digital innovation can reduce urban carbon emissions while making our cities more resilient against the impacts of climate change, without exacerbating inequalities and marginalization. The following speakers shared their perspectives on the topic, gave insights into their research and presented practical examples from their work:

  • Gesa Ziemer, Academic Lead, UNITAC Hamburg (moderator)
  • Pontus Westerberg, Programme Management Officer, Innovation Section, UN-Habitat
  • Teresa Kerber, International Smart Cities Network project lead, GIZ
  • Maryke van Staden, Director, ICLEI's Bonn Center for Local Climate Action and Reporting (carbonn Climate Center) & Director, Business Development, ICLEI
  • Andrea Pollio, Researcher, African Center for Cities & Politecnico di Torino

This is the session recording and you can view the presentations by clicking on the speaker names: