UNESCO and Vulog launch partnership to develop a “Smart and Inclusive Cities Tool”

UNESCO and Vulog have announced their partnership to develop a “Smart and Inclusive Cities Tool,” a project that will focus on the impact that mobility and technology have on fostering inclusivity for vulnerable populations in cities across the world.

Transportation and mobility at the forefront of conversations around smart, inclusive cities

Transportation, fuelled by the onslaught of new information technologies, has a significant impact on the sustainability and inclusiveness of the world’s cities. UN estimates suggest that cities are responsible for 75% of global CO2 emissions, with transportation being among the largest contributors. Transportation also makes up the second-highest cost on the average family’s budget and can affect an individual’s ability to be employed – the combination of which places a disproportionate burden on communities that are already marginalized.

The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the way we think about transportation and mobility, altering the frequencies, distances, and ways in which we move. It has also underscored the importance of transportation and personal mobility in the development of cities, especially when it comes to safety and efficiency. Women are, in this respect, especially vulnerable, since they have a higher chance of facing harassment and assault during their daily commutes. People with disabilities also face greater challenges than their non-disabled counterparts: the few transportation and mobility options available are often inconvenient and inefficient.

The Smart and Inclusive Cities Tool is a collaborative project that addresses these issues by examining the effect of new urban mobility technologies and identifying best practices to build awareness and strengthen cities’ capacities to create smart and inclusive ecosystems.

Our choice of transportation and personal mobility affects not just the air we breathe – it also affects how and where we are able to move, a decision which often has a disproportionate impact on marginalized groups. By integrating connected mobility technologies into its transportation infrastructure, a city increases not just its degree of sustainability, but also inclusivity. Vulog shares UNESCO’s vision of global solidarity to promote inclusive urban development which is why we are honoured to be partnering to deliver a concrete tool that will helps cities worldwide tackle two major issues affecting the well-being of city dwellers today – pollution and inequality.

Greg Ducongé, CEO of Vulog

Promoting inclusivity across cities and industries

By working hand-in-hand with city leaders and organizers, Vulog contributes to the advancement of gender equality through its annual publication of women’s achievements in the tech, mobility, and transportation sectors and regularly publishes research on pertinent environmental topics such as the impact of private vehicle ownership on an individual’s carbon footprint. In light of Vulog and UNESCO’s shared commitment to gender equality, the collaborative “Smart and Inclusive Cities” project will give special attention to women who, according to studies, suffer from a higher degree of gender inequality compared to their male counterparts, especially regarding safety.

We want to strengthen the resources that we are providing to support the design and implementation of policies to fight racism and discrimination at all levels, across all issues, both inside and outside of governments… Such action requires a whole-of-society approach in order to be transformative. We’re fortunate in this regard to not be starting from zero – UNESCO has a long history of moral and intellectual leadership in the fight against racism, going back more than seventy years, and we are capitalizing on this as we already begin to develop ambitious new initiatives… If we are looking to build back better, creating societies that are more inclusive and more resilient, we need to tackle this shadow pandemic – the fight against racism needs to be at the very heart of our strategies to recover from COVID-19

Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences

In addition to Gender, the project will focus on four other aspects of inclusion: Age, Ethnic Identity, Socio-economic Status and Disability. It will be carried out in three phases over the coming months via interviews with national delegations, city leaders, and transportation officials representing cities, dispersed across UNESCO’s five regions.

A unique partnership with shared goals

Vulog’s “Smart and Inclusive Cities Tool” Project’s partnership with UNESCO’s International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities – ICCAR is an important opportunity to bring together policy expertise and cutting-edge data to promote smart and inclusive urban development in cities across the world.

Both UNESCO and Vulog strongly believe that to ensure the achievement of a truly equitable society, free of discrimination in this new age, a collaborative effort between the public and private sectors is necessary.

Building multi-stakeholder partnerships is part of the anti-racism roadmap that UNESCO is currently developing, following the Global Call against Racism adopted by UNESCO’s Member States. The roadmap includes a scanning project to strengthen institutional and legal frameworks against racism and discriminations, affirmative actions in the public and private sectors, and anti-biases training.

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