The Da Nang City People’s Committee and the UNDP have held a seminar to introduce the City Lab initiative and suggest the next steps in making the city smart, green, and inclusive. This is the very first step in implementing an MoU on cooperation the two signed earlier this month.

“Traffic planning, the environment and waste management, smart cities, sustainable tourism development, innovation, and e-government are matters of interest to Da Nang in its urban development process,” Deputy Chairman of the People’s Committee Ho Ky Minh told the seminar

UNDP Resident Representative Caitlin Wiesen applauded Da Nang for its commitment to growth as a smart, innovative and thriving city. She reiterated UNDP’s commitment to supporting the central city in accelerating its growth for People, Planet, and Prosperity.

As part of its commitment to support City Lab, UNDP has appointed Ms. Gabriella Gomez-Mont, former Founder and Director of the Mexico City Lab, to oversee the task. She is a member of the international advisory committee for the Mayor of Seoul, a fellow of MIT, Yale, and Harvard, and one of the 100 most creative people in business according to Fast Company magazine. While in Da Nang from November 22 to 26, she shared her experience and reflections on key issues to be addressed through the network of City Labs.

“A key question to address across all planned innovations is how to support the city to be more agile, adaptive, and anticipatory,” Ms. Wiesen emphasized. “This includes identifying how best to embed innovation methods and practices in the city to sustainably tackle social and public issues.”

Leaders of relevant departments in Da Nang attending the seminar agreed that urban challenges can no longer be resolved by the government alone. They were thrilled to learn from the great example of Mexico City Lab on how to prototype collaborative practices and catalyze citizen talent to create an innovative and resilient Da Nang.

Mr. Le Son Phong, Deputy Director of the Da Nang Department of Information and Communications, noted the challenges in building a smart city, including a lack of skills and results measurement and how to respect the privacy of citizens. He said City Lab was a good idea as it allows for pilot programs to identify solutions to pressing issues.

“The UNDP-supported chatbot in place has been very effective, helping to reduce the number of staff while increasing the reliability of information for citizens,” said Mr. Phong. “Da Nang is keen to move on to the next level with this initiative.”

With waste increasing by 18-20 per cent annually, waste management is one of the most pressing issues in the city. Within the seminar, the UNDP Regional Innovation Center in Asia and the Pacific, UNDP in Vietnam, and Alberta CoLab of Canada held a systemic design workshop with local and national governments and business partners to build a human-centered understanding of waste systems in Da Nang to fight plastic pollution and promote a circular economy.