Mayors summit

Gisteren mocht ik de Metropoolregio Amsterdam vertegenwoordigen als een van de keynote sprekers op de Intelligent Cities Challenge. De samenvatting van dit online event vind je hier.

The event continued with inspiring keynotes from two mentor city deputy mayors that showcased the leading role cities can play in the transformation of the local socio-economic systems to bolster green and sustainable growth. The vice-mayor of the City of Haarlemmermeer in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, Marja Ruigrok, emphasised the power of sharing experiences and best practices between different cities and regions. Her motto is “if you’re not able to share, you cannot multiply.” That is why she is enthusiastic for the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area taking part in the Intelligent Cities Challenge, as mentors, but also as a great source of inspiration Ms Ruigrok shared three lessons from her region’s journey towards becoming more intelligent and green:

  • Involve all relevant stakeholders: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
  • Use technology for the benefit of citizens, not the other way around: Focus on the people first, and not only on the technology.
  • Never waste a good crisis: Even when times are hard, push your ambitions to create a better, more inclusive economically sustainable world.

The other keynote speaker was the deputy mayor of Barcelona, Laia Bonet, who underlined the connections between digital innovation and ecological transition, while also emphasising the inequalities created by the ‘digital divide’. Ms Bonet presented a study which showed that in Barcelona age, gender, income and education all play a fundamental role in citizens’ access to the internet and digital tools. The coronavirus pandemic functions as a “stress test that forced us to review our relationship with our planet and with technology; the pandemic has exposed what works, and what doesn’t work.” 

Ms Bonet also shared her takeaways on a green and sustainable transition, powered by technological innovation:

  • The social dimension of digitalisation needs to be placed at the heart of the recovery: We can only effectively digitalise our European economies if they work for everyone, and to do so we need to foster digital inclusion.
  • The tech sector’s contribution to the climate emergency needs to be recognised: “We need to stop thinking about digital innovation as something separate from climate action, and work on reducing the environmental footprint of companies in this sector.

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