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UNIS/INF/503
7 November 2014

Re-issued as received

Urban Future Global Conference 2014  
18-19 November

The largest Smart City Conference in Central Europe brings together some 1,000 international experts to discuss sustainable urban development

VIENNA, 7 November (UN Information Service) - The URBAN FUTURE Global Conference will take place for the first time in Graz on 18 and 19 November 2014. In cooperation with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the international conference on sustainable urban development will attract some 1,000 participants together with more than 170 high-profile speakers, including the former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, the renowned economist Jeremy Rifkin, the sustainability visionary Alex Steffen and the political theorist and best-selling author Benjamin Barber to Graz. A total of 46 sessions in the four conference streams mobility, communications, living & city planning and resources & energy will address key challenges, emerging trends and best practices in smart city development. 

The core of the conference is structured around case studies and accounts of actual experiences from city representatives and international consulting experts with project examples from more than 30 cities. "The aim of the conference is to foster the discussion of urban sustainability initiatives beyond projects in the world's mega-cities and glossy project brochures. Especially in smaller and medium-sized cities, a growing number of initiatives are being implemented all around the world that can have a strong multiplier effect - particularly if an open exchange about experiences, success criteria and stumbling blocks is made possible," explained the conference Programme Director, Gerald Sutter, in describing the conference.  

Strong line-up of topics and high-profile speakers under four conference streams

In addition to the keynote speakers Ken Livingstone, Jeremy Rifkin, Benjamin Barber and Alex Steffen, participants can also expect a high calibre line-up of topics and speakers in the four conference streams: the Mobility stream examines the latest technical developments in the mobility sector as well as the strategic issues of sustainable mobility, such as the interplay between traffic flow and city planning or integrated mobility solutions in cities. In addition to leading representatives from technology companies such as AVL, Siemens, BMW, Volvo, ABB, VW, Toyota, Mahindra and Renault, the speakers include a wide variety of international thought leaders, among them the mobility researcher Andreas Knie, the e-mobility pioneer Erik Figenbaum and the development economist and policy adviser Eric Britton. 

The sessions in the Communications stream are directed primarily at communications experts in the urban environment: this conference stream covers questions relating to new forms of local participation culture and the resulting challenges for political leaders, the impact of Big Data on cities and how cities can benefit from international collaboration. Participants can also expect a full range of international case studies in this conference stream. Included amongst the keynote speakers are Nick Tennant, who heads the 14-strong communication team of the London Tideway Tunnels large-scale infrastructure project, and Terri Wills, who is responsible for all international initiatives with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group as Director of Global Initiatives.

What are the lessons to be drawn on the development of Smart City districts from projects such as the HafenCity Hamburg or the Hamarby Sjöstad quarter in Stockholm? How do sustainable building technologies or the Internet of Things influence the future of our cities? These and many other questions are addressed in the "Housing and Urban Planning" stream, through a variety of contributions including those from the architectural visionary Thomas Rau, the CEO of HafenCity Hamburg, Jürgen Bruns-Berentelg, and Victor Callister, Assistant Director of Environmental Enhancement at the City of London, who has a leading role in a major project to convert two of the busiest streets of London's financial district into pedestrian zones. 

Management of the increasing demand for energy in growing cities is the focus of the fourth stream "Energy & Resources". The topics covered range from energy visions for cities and how cities can take their energy fate into their own hands, to best practice examples on energy saving and sustainable energy use, case studies on smart metering and questions related to the energy optimisation of existing buildings. The speaker line-up includes: Andreas Umbach, President and CEO of Landis+Gyr, Ronald van Warmerdam, Senior Project Manager of the City of Amsterdam and Director of the EU-project "Transform", the Canadian energy consultant Peter Garforth and Rian van Staden, who has developed economic development strategies based on renewable energy policy framework conditions for a number of cities and regions in Europe and Asia.

Conference participants

The URBAN FUTURE Global Conference has been conceived as a compact information and discussion platform that brings together all relevant players involved in sustainable urban development in one location: participants include city mayors and municipal decision makers from all over Europe, mobility experts, architects, urban planners, utilities companies, leading technology providers, academics and sustainability experts as well as international government officials and representatives of international associations and organizations. Alongside the multi-faceted array of information presented, the conference also offers many opportunities for networking and informal exchange of views with key players in the field of sustainable urban development.

Registration and Information

The URBAN FUTURE Global Conference 2014 will take place on 18 and 19 November in the Messe Congress Graz Convention Centre (Messeplatz 1, 8010 Graz). Two-day conference passes can be obtained under www.urban-future.at for € 750 per pass; special rates apply for city and government representatives as well as university staff and students. Programme details: http://www.urban-future.at/en/program

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For further enquiries, interview requests and accreditations:

Karin Slamanig
Mobile:. +43/(0)699 / 13 33 13 07
Email:. k.slamanig[at]urban-future.at
Website: http://www.urban-future.at/en