How Do We Cultivate Innovation And Collaboration For Urban Mobility Solutions?

As the world continues to urbanize and grapple with both the environmental and health challenges, countries around the world face challenges in meeting the needs of their growing urban populations, particularly around transportation, energy systems and other critical infrastructure.  

According to the United Nations, 55% of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas and by 2050, this number is expected to reach 68%. At the same time, a warming atmosphere and rising sea levels are placing additional pressures on the urban areas and already affecting cities across the U.S. and around the world.  

As part of the second series of virtual activations, Goal 17 Partners hosted a discussion on the Future of Urban Mobility, where representatives from BP Ventures, the City of Houston, the City of New York, and shift7 came together to discuss how they are each finding solutions to address challenges facing this important topic. The discussion was moderated by Kaysie Brown of the UN Foundation. 

The session highlighted different industries and perspectives, from city leadership to corporate innovation to technology. Each speaker had an opportunity to present solutions they are working on, implementing or investing in, with the goal of ensuring that the benefits of urbanization are fully realized and shared through these innovative, integrated, sustainable and smart solutions. 

Penny Abeywardena, Commissioner for International Affairs, New York City detailed what NYC is doing to create effective transportation systems. She shared that last November, the NYC mayor signed the street’s master plan to redesign 2,000 intersections to help create 250 bike lanes citywide. Commissioner Abeywardena also addressed how Covid-19 has brought this issue to the top as the city has to ensure essential workers have a safe way to travel to their jobs. 

Lara Cottingham, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Houston, discussed the challenges facing Houston as they move towards their goal of being carbon neutral by 2050. Differing from New York City, Houston is wider spread and has more individual car ownership. Additionally, Houston has a rich history of being an energy city based on their connections to the oil and gas industry.  Lara said,  “Climate is a global challenge. It takes a global solution. As we move forward, partnerships are going to be even more important.”  

Each speaker emphasized that urban mobility is a complex problem and to solve it will take innovative and collaborative solutions.

David Hayes, Chief Investment Officer, BP Ventures shared that in an effort to reach BP’s goal of Net Zero by 2050, BP is creating a new team focused on regions, cities, and solutions to work in partnership to holistically tackle the carbon issues that cities and regions have.

Megan Smith, CEO, shift7 brought the conversation together by sharing that we need to “listen to each other because the answers are there, within us, as solution makers”, as she called for more collaboration, data sharing, and building communities of people who are already working to find solutions. 

Learn more about this session here.