20th March 2016

UN Habitat in Prague: J.Gehl: First we shape the cities – then they shape us | Smart cities, smart citizens, smart communities and mayors

At the UN Habitat III conference held on March 16-18, 2016 in Prague, the organisation presented outlook and future trends in urban development: 1. UNECE cities are subject to concentration and sprawl. With ageing & migration, favouring compactness is key to supporting equity, integration and cohesion in our societies. 2. The knowledge city flourishes around scientific and educational excellence, is fueled by the digital revolution and demands mixeduse & integrated cities. Increased imperative for collaboration,consensus & positive action between government, stakeholders & the community. 3. Trend to people-centred and integrated planning is driving action towards resilient, connected, integrated & compact cities. 4. Post-Paris – widespread consensus for renewed action on climate change. In UNECE cities this will mean accelerated action for the decarbonisation of urban life. Click on presentations by Czech and foreing experts on urban development issues, including case studies.

E.g. Lessons learned about smart communitites:
•People as the most valuable asset
•Smart City can be described through an exchange of information and knowledge between city and the citizens
•Smart communities emerge through cooperation of citizens. City administration works as a catalyst


Where will the worlds' next smart cities be?, asks World Economic Forum. Also, find out more about development plans of the capital Prague and the second largest Czech city considered an innovation hub, Brno. Look at the Prague Public Space Design Manual.

The Economist published an article on the role of data in local government. The big political question is whether data will simply make city government more efficient—which in itself is a worthwhile goal—or whether they will also empower citizens. Susan Crawford of Harvard University, co-author of “The Responsive City”, argues that having access to data will not only show people what their tax money can achieve, but give them the tools to get involved in their city’s affairs. Others are not so sure. Technology rarely fixes the underlying problem but mostly replicates it, says Benjamin Barber, an American political theorist with an interest in local government. “Above all we need smart mayors and smart citizens, not smart cities”, the article says. 


View also Fokus Václava Moravce aired by the Czech Television 8 March 2016, a discussion about consumer patterns and issues related to the consumer society. 

OECD data from 2013 or latest show that municipal waste generation in the Czech Republic dropped by 8% between 2000 and 2013 to 307kg of waste per capita (of which 215 kg/capita of waste comes from households). In the same period, private final consumption expenditure per capita rose by 29%. Also, 24% of municipal waste is being recycled or composted and 19% is being incinerated with energy recovery. Landfill accounts for 56%, compared with 4% in Austria or 71% in Slovakia, for example. The Czech Republic is at the bottom end of recycling ranking of the OECD member states. Recently published data by Eurostat show that the volume of municipal waste (in kg per capita) grew by 3% between 1995 and 2014. 

Eurostat statistics on transboundary hazardous waste shipments from the Czech Republic indicate that the volume shipped grew from 1,900 tonnes of waste in 2001 to 31, 200 tonnes in 2013. Read more details 

Also, Czechs are among the best at paper recycling. The share of used paper collection grew from 43% to 68% in the past years, whereas the level of 78% is considered to be the ceiling, (as in certain cases the paper cannot be collected or must be incinerated or dumped). Schools/pupils collect a large share of the total volume of used paper. Czechs are also doing well at recycling of packaging material. More details are available here.

The new OECD study Do Environmental Policies Affect Global Value Chains? analyses historic export data in high and low pollution industries in 23 advanced countries and six emerging economies. It shows that countries with stringent environmental laws suffer a very small disadvantage in pollution-intensive sectors such as steel-making, chemicals, plastics and fuel products. This is compensated by an edge gained in cleaner industries like machinery or electronics. Both effects are tiny compared to factors including market size, the lifting of trade tariffs, globalisation and a country’s intrinsic assets, the study says.Read also an article by Radio Praha Transport sector faces a challenge of low emissions future.

More on circular economy here and here. View a video.


Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic