SSTC in promoting Green Growth and Sustainable Cities – Sustainable Urban-Industrial Development along the “Belt and Road”

Submitted by: UNIDO

Related SDGs: Goal 9 (“Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure”) and Goal 11 (“Sustainable Cities and Communities”)



  • To discuss how inclusive and sustainable industrial development must be leveraged to achieve sustainable urban development, highlighting challenges shared by cities that are experiencing rapid urbanization and industrialization as well as the potential for further exploring urban-industrial symbiosis in cities where a certain level of urbanization and industrialization have been reached.
  • To present alternative, affordable and appropriate solutions that fully explores the mutual reinforcement of sustainable urban and industrial development, so as to achieve integrated sustainability, with the concrete examples of four case cities, namely Trieste, Italy; Shanghai, China; Vienna, Austria; and Chengdu, China.





Mr. Weixi Gong

Senior Coordinator for South-South and Triangular Cooperation, UNIDO

Mr. Weixi Gong has over two decades of professional experience, with positions and expertise in the aviation industry, systems analysis as well as technology transfer and its negotiation, theory and practice. In 1997, he was recruited by UNIDO, where he undertook various responsibilities in the area of information and knowledge management, business sector development, sector-specific value chain development, technology transfer, programme evaluation, human resources development, field operations, and South-South cooperation. Since 2012, Mr. Gong has been engaged in the area of sustainable cities and urban-industrial development at UNIDO. He has previously served as the UNIDO representative in Iran and as the chairperson of the Operations Management Team of the United Nations in Iran. Currently, Mr. Gong is serving as the Senior Coordinator for South-South and triangular industrial cooperation at the Department of Programmes, Partnerships, and Field Integration in UNIDO.




Mr. Carlo Fortuna

Programme Manager, Central European Initiative

After graduating from University of Trieste in International Relations, Mr. Fortuna completed his studies attending international courses at South Bank University London, Université Léonard de Vinci in Paris and Franco-British joint Master of Arts, also achieving a Master in Political Science-European Public Policy. From October 2003 to May 2008, he worked for Friuli Venezia Giulia Autonomous Region – Territorial Planning Department, Energy, Mobility and Transport Infrastructures, Freight Transport and Logistic Services as Consultant, Head of Technical Secretariat and Senior Consultant. From May 2008 to April 2014 he worked as Project manager- Head of Transport and Regional Co-operation Unit- Central European Initiative (CEI), Executive Secretariat for EU projects. From 2014-2018 he was Director of International Relations and Strategic Infrastructures for the Presidency of the Autonomous Region Friuli Venezia Giulia and he dealt with the coordination and management of infrastructure plans and programmes for road, rail, maritime and airport in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, and he was also responsible for the international relations of the Region. He is Senior Officer and Programme Manager at the Central European Initiative (CEI) in charge of the development of regional initiatives in the OBOR with particular reference for Northern Adriatic Sea projects, Western Balkans/Berlin process and EU affairs.


Mr. Sergio Nardini

Head of Special Projects Unit in Port System Authority Eastern Mediterranean Sea – Port of Trieste and Port of Monfalcone

Dr. Sergio Nardini graduated in Business Administration (BBA) and Business/Managerial Economics at the Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, with a dissertation about “CAD and cooperative business relations” in 1997. In the academic year 1994 – 1995, he attended courses in Business/Managerial Economics at the University of Hohenheim; from 1999 to 2000 he participated in the Education Programme in “Geographic Information System Social Sciences Management of Information Systems” at the University of California in Santa Barbara. From July 1998 to February 2008, he worked for Venice Port Authority as Head of Study and Projects Unit. Since February 2008, he works for Trieste Port Authority, before as Port Planning, Member of Staff of Secretary General (until January 2011); and then as Head of Safety Unit until today. Furthermore, since December 2017, he is Head of Special Projects Unit in Port System Authority Eastern Mediterranean Sea – Port of Trieste and Port of Monfalcone.


Ms. Sabine Ohler

Director of International Business, Vienna Business Agency

Ms. Sabine Ohler is heading the International Business Department of the Vienna Business Agency, the official Investment Promotion Agency of the City of Vienna. In this role, Ms. Ohler has been responsible for the global promotion of the business and investment location Vienna since 2012. She has a proven track record in attracting, maintaining, and accelerating foreign direct investment and, together with her world-class team, has been instrumental in assisting international companies succeed in market and new job creation in Vienna. Before, Ms. Ohler lived and worked over a decade in the US, holding leading positions at a technology startup and a Wall Street financial advisory firm for corporate and public sector entities in the US energy sector. Prior to her US engagement, Ms. Ohler served as Investor Relations Officer and Director of Group Communications for several listed blue-chip companies in Austria. Ms. Ohler has over 20 years of comprehensive experience in global business development, trade and investment promotion, investor relations, capital markets/financial communications, and public relations/corporate communications. Her industry background includes technology, infrastructure, financial services/capital markets, as well as consumer goods. Ms. Ohler holds an MBA from Goizueta Business School of Emory University as well as a Master in Business Administration from Johannes Kepler University.


Ms. Rohey Malick Lowe

Lord Major of Banjul, Gambia

Ms. Rohey Malick Lowe was born and raised in Banjul, Gambia, where her father, Alagie Malick Lowe, was a one-time Mayor. She is the First Female Mayor at her city, a member of the United Democratic Party (UDP). After she has established her own successful business for the tourism industry, she lived in Sweden where she studied International Relations at the University of Falun. While there, she was active in politics and was a member of the party called the ‘Social Democrats’ and had the opportunity to serve on the Child Welfare Committee of Nyköping Municipality, with responsibility in overseeing Schools. Ms. Rohey Malick Lowe was elected Mayor of Banjul on May 2018. She indicated that one of her priorities is to ensure that the youth and women of Banjul are empowered through skills and entrepreneurship training. She is a strong believer in the duty of citizens to not be spectators, but active participants in the democratic process they live in and she has always endeavored to engage in the political process of her country.


Ms. Gulnara Roll

Head of Housing and Land Management Unit, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Ms. Gulnara Roll is the Head of Housing and Land Management Unit at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. The unit serves as secretariat to two intergovernmental bodies – Committee on Housing and Land Management and its Working Party on Land Administration. Senior government officials from 56 member States of the UNECE participate in the Committee’s and the Working Party work. The UNECE Committee on Housing and Land Management works to promote energy efficient, affordable and decent housing; compact, inclusive, resilient, smart and sustainable cities; transparent and efficient land use, and property registration. Ms. Roll is working with the UNECE since 2009. Prior to joining the UNECE, Ms. Roll worked as Scientific Officer in Economics and Social Sciences at INTAS – International Association for the promotion of scientific co-operation with the countries of the former Soviet Union, an agency under the European Commission in Brussels; Senior Research Fellow in International Relations at the University of Tartu in Estonia; and Urban Planner at St. Petersburg Urban Planning Institute in Russia. Gulnara Roll has PhD in Human Geography, Environmental Science and Policy; she studied at St. Petersburg University in Russia; Central European University in Budapest, Hungary; and Brown University, USA.


Mr. Mohammad Mustafizur Rahman

Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information Communications Technologies Division, Bangladesh

Mr. Mohammad Mustafizur Rahman is an Additional Secretary to the Government of Bangladesh working for Ministry of Information Communications Technologies Division and is leading the largest innovative programme of Bangladesh ‘Access to Information-Innovate for All’ as its Project Director. His tenure of over 26 years in civil service was dedicated for improving governance in public service delivery through the use of Information Communication Technologies. He played instrumental role in the first-ever digital service delivery platform piloted in one of the districts in Bangladesh, which was subsequently replicated in all 64 districts. Recognition to his outstanding contribution for public service innovation and delivery, Mr. Rahman received several awards including prestigious Public Administration Award in 2016, “e-Asia award” in 2011 and best Deputy Commissioner Awards in 2012 and 2013. Mr. Rahman completed his masters in physics and the joined Bangladesh Civil Service in 1991.



South-South and Triangular Solutions to be Presented

Baseline Scenario

In recent decades, cities in some of the fastest-growing developing economies in the world had experienced both industrialization and urbanization. Industrialization has catalyzed urbanization by creating economic growth and job opportunities that draw people to cities. On the one hand, industrial development creates a high demand for labour with the promise of better living conditions in urban areas; on the other hand, industrial development results in technological innovation, which improves agricultural productivity and enables a small rural population to support a much larger urban population.

The multi-folded, inter-related challenges confronting fast-growing Southern cities as a result of rapid industrialization and urbanization can include the following:

  • Unemployment: People relocate to urban areas in search of employment and better living conditions, leading to influxes of population that often result in hyper competition for job opportunities;
  • Lack of basic necessities such as water and electricity: lack of adequate infrastructure, coupled with influxes of population, often result in a gap between the demand for and the supply of these necessities;
  • Lack of effective waste management: managing urban waste properly is essential for building sustainable cities, as poorly managed waste can create serious health, safety, and environmental consequences; however, not all Southern cities can afford the expensive albeit effective waste management deployed in cities in developed countries;
  • Pollution: Pollution in a city can be traced back to many sources, with that associated with industries and transport systems being the major ones in many fast-growing developing cities.
    • Industries, while being a city’s backbone, can leave considerable environmental footprint if solutions to realize cleaner production, efficient resource management and reductions in waste and pollution are not utilized.
    • On the other hand, influxes of population often results in a surge in private vehicles, particularly when accessible public transport is not in place; due to a lack of planned transport networks, bicycles and pedestrian-friendly pathways are often unavailable in many of world’s fastest growing Southern cities, which in turn leads to increased use of private vehicles, thus forming a vicious cycle.
  • Lack of awareness/access to clean energy alternatives: Closely related to the problem of pollution in cities is the lack of awareness/access to clean energy. Consuming more than three quarters of the energy produced globally, cities contribute to some 80 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

In the meantime, sustainable urban-development projects that can address these challenges often require investments that exceed well beyond the local authorities’ ability to pay. According to the estimates of the McKinsey Global Institute, between 2013 to 2030, some over USD 57 trillion will be required for the development of transport (road, rail, ports and airports), power, water, and telecommunications.

Notwithstanding their significance in the advancement of the 2030 Agenda and the multi-folded challenges illustrated above, cities, in particular Southern cities, often have limited access to international platforms where challenges, good practices and lessons learnt can be shared and potential projects can be presented to a wider range of development stakeholders for financing.

Towards a Solution

Urban-Industrial Development Synergy

Currently, more than 50 per cent of the world’s population lives in cities. The importance of cities and urban development in the advancement of the 2030 Agenda cannot be overstated, as cities not only generate more than 70 per cent of global wealth, but also produce 80 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Vested with economic and political strengths, cities are the key sites for economic development, and have the capacity to guide their countries and regions forward along the path to sustainable development.

Evidence proving that industrialization is an effective poverty reduction strategy is not hard to find: Whether we look at the early advances of the European countries, the United States or Japan, or those that caught up with the global trend in the latter half of the 20th century, including the Republic of Korea, China, and the many other Asian ‘tigers’ and ‘dragons’, it was always industrial development and trade in industrial goods that shaped their successes.

Industrial development, while often accompanied by rapid urbanization and the problems resulted from it as mentioned above, can play a key role in sustainable urban development in terms of economic growth, job creation, poverty reduction, and investment promotion. Cities can in turn offer industries innumerable amenities such as enabling policy, infrastructure, human capital, transport and logistics, as well as municipal ordinances. The question, therefore, is how sustainable urban-industrial development can be achieved as a whole in an inclusive manner.

The significance of urban and industrial development and their mutual reinforcement is fully recognized in the 17 sustainable development goals. SDG 11, which aims to “make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”, champions the cause of urban development. SDG 9’s targets include several important factors related to urban development, such as infrastructure development, scientific research, and efficient use of resources, technological development, and especially the development of information and communications technology (ICT). The aim is to promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization to support economic development and human wellbeing, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all.

The “Belt and Road” Initiative and the “BRIDGE for Cities” event

The proposed thematic solution forum builds upon the outcomes of the annual “BRIDGE for Cities” event, organized conjointly by UNIDO and the Finance Center for South-South Cooperation (FCSSC). The event promotes the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development via the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), with which it shares many similarities, in all participating countries. It offers municipal stakeholders an international platform to share and exchange ideas, success stories and lessons learned for the advancements of inclusive and sustainable urban and industrial development in cities along the Belt and Road and beyond.

Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative links up countries in Asia, Africa and Europe and promotes an open and inclusive global economy through five “pillars”: policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and people-to-people bonds.

In March 2016, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution S/RES/2274, which called for the strengthening the process of regional cooperation, “including through regional development initiatives such as the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road’ initiative”. Later in March 2017, in Resolution S/RES/2344 adopted by the UN Security Council, the Belt and Road Initiative was once again called upon as a regional development initiative that strengthens the process of regional economic cooperation by facilitating regional connectivity, trade and transit.

The “Belt and Road Initiative” offers plenty of opportunities for the development of countries along the Belt and Road and beyond. As the specialized agency in the United Nations system that is mandated to promote and accelerate inclusive and sustainable industrial development, UNIDO, through the “BRIDGE for Cities” event, aims to assist cities along the Belt and Road and beyond on their paths to inclusive and sustainable urban-industrial development as a technical cooperation service provider and a partnership convener.

In the 3rd – the latest edition of the event, four case cities – Trieste, Italy; Shanghai, China; Vienna, Austria; and Chengdu, China, were selected to present their lessons learnt with regard to four different urban development concepts and focus areas: namely urban-port-industrial symbiosis in Trieste’s efforts towards a sustainable city; smart productivity and trade in Shanghai’s efforts towards a smart city; soft environment for urban investments in the case of Vienna as a liveable city; and urban agri-business in Chengdu’s efforts towards a park city.

Case cities

The city of Trieste has been chosen to showcase the urban development concept of “Sustainable City”, as it succeeded at integrating industries into the urban fabric, especially through the development of the port and of an efficient infrastructure system, connecting the city with industrial clusters.

Shanghai, the trailblazer among Chinese cities in the field of technological innovation, has been chosen to showcase the urban development concept of “Smart City”, as a Southern example of fruitful mainstreaming of Industry 4.0 technologies and innovative industries in urban contexts to support sustainable urban development and a high quality of life.

Vienna, a city that has been voted the most liveable city in the world for many years in a row and across surveys, was selected to showcase the wide and diversified range of soft measures necessary to facilitate and attract investments for cities’ development by addressing the urban-financing gap, while providing a high quality of life as a result of ecological sustainability.

The challenges of coexistence of green spaces and industries in ever-growing conurbations will be discussed through the example of Chengdu, chosen as “Park City” due to its commitment to pursue economic development through environmental sustainability and green industry.


Focal Point Contact Details

Name: Mr. Weixi Gong
Title: Senior Coordinator for South-South and Triangular Cooperation, UNIDO
Phone: +43 1 26026 3381