October 22, 2015

Top economists and innovators meet at Smart City Expo in Barcelona as urban share of world energy consumption rises to 80%

The upcoming Smart City Expo World Congress, which is set to take place in Barcelona later this month, will boast top speakers such as Harvard economist Edward L. Glaeser and New York University’s Pankaj Ghemawat.

Nowhere is the climate change challenge more pressing than in our cities. In 2015, some 70 per cent of the world’s population lives and works in cities, accounting for 80 per cent of energy consumption. Delegates attending the Barcelona congress will be able to join a workshop to learn more about prominent city initiatives such as Climate-KIC’s Low Carbon City Lab, Building Technologies Accelerator and Smart Sustainable Districts programmes. 

Brian Kilkelly, COP21 project manager at Climate-KIC, will also be moderating a special session to discuss how partnerships in cities across Europe play a crucial role in bringing down carbon emissions. Other speakers include technology experts Juliana Rotich, co-founder of Ushahidi.com, a collaborative platform for monitoring crisis situations, and Beth Simone Noveck, director of the Governance Lab and member of the first Technology Secretariat and head of the White House Open Government Initiative.

The congress programme features 350 speakers across over 40 sessions divided into six core themes: Technology, Society, Governance, Sustainability, Mobility and Innovation & Startups – turning the event into a major platform of urban knowledge in the international scene. 


The European Union’s roadmap for transition to a competitive low carbon economy envisages an 80 per cent reduction in domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. As the world’s third largest source of carbon emissions, Europe also has a crucial role to play in meeting global reduction targets.

Climate-KIC, as the EU’s main climate innovation initiative, runs a range of programmes to help find solutions. Its Low Carbon City Lab programme brings together city administrators and networks, businesses and research centres to unlock the climate change action potential of cities, while the Building Technologies Accelerator focuses on measurable CO2 reduction in the construction market – including refurbishments and new buildings.

Urban transport

The event in Barcelona will also feature four keynote addresses and a special session on mobility given by Audi representative Rupert Stadler, who will be analysing the urban transport modes of the future.

Presentations on innovation and entrepreneurship have been planned with the collaboration of the 4YFN program (4 Years From Now), the international mobile start-ups meeting organised by Mobile World Capital Barcelona and GSMA, with a special focus on mobile solutions to encourage entrepreneurship in the field of smart cities and how to strengthen the scalability of projects to maximise their global impact. There will be a special exhibition area set up – the 4YFN Village – plus an urban edition of the 4YFN Awards to recognise the most innovative projects.

Circular economy

One of the new features of the next edition of the event which will be held from 17 to 19 November is a symposium on the circular economy, a system that opts for redesigning economic and production processes to focus them on reutilising and taking the maximum advantage of materials and resources.

This type of economy is in stark contrast to the current linear economy that perpetuates a production and consumer structure based on the extraction, manufacture, use and elimination of products, which many experts agree has reached the end of its useful life.

The organisation is also collaborating with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, one of the leading institutions behind the paradigm shift in the Western economy.

Building on solid foundations

Smart City Expo World Congress 2015 is built on the cornerstones of the four successful editions held thus far. At the last edition, in 2014, the event brought together more than 11,000 attendees in Barcelona, over 400 cities, executives from the leading companies in the sector, scientists and innovative thinkers, all with the aim of sharing knowledge, driving forward new initiatives and tackling all the urban challenges of the future together.