• Rostov-on-Don, Russia: Social initiative for adaptation of senior citizens to information technology use

  • Vienna, Austria: Start Wien – A Programme for New Migrants to Help Them Settle In and Facilitate Their Integration in Vienna

  • La Paz, Bolivia: Zebras, A Citizen Culture Project

  • Bogota, Colombia: School at Hospital

With the world's population projected to nearly double by 2050, urbanization remains one of humanity's biggest trends in the 21st century.

Meanwhile, the world population flow, economic activities , social and cultural exchanges, and impact caused by environmental change are increasingly affecting urban areas, posing a great challenge to health, safety, education, residential housing, infrastructure and services and sustainable development of natural resources.

In addition, there are problems such as social and economic exclusion as well as space separation, which need urgent attention.

However, the third UN Habitat Conference on Sustainable Housing and Urban Development (Habitat III) has outlined a shared vision in its New Urban Agenda, which calls on member nations to ensure that all citizens can equally use urban areas and settlements; free of discrimination.

Victims include but are not limited to women and children, teenagers, the disabled, AIDS patients, the elderly, aboriginal people and local communities, the poor, the homeless, individual farmers, refugees, displaced persons and immigrants in all forms.

The agenda requires that people are able to live in and construct sustainable cities and housing areas featuring fair, safe, healthy, convenient, affordable and resilient in order to promote prosperity and improve living standards for all.

The agenda calls for the facilitation of social integration among different social groups to boost the diversity of an inclusive urban community as well as social cohesiveness.

In line with that, the agenda proposes effective participation and cooperation among interested parties, including local government, private sectors, citizens groups, women and youth organizations, as well as representative organizations belonging to the disabled, academic institutions, chambers of commerce, labor unions, associations of immigration and cultural association, with an aim to seek opportunities in urban economic development.

To achieve these goals, we need to narrow the social gaps among the different groups. To begin with, we need to train and educate the disadvantaged to raise their education and vocational skill levels.

We can protect social diversity by promoting communication between the different ethnic groups and culture to encourage them to live in harmony.

To that effect, many countries have rolled out various educational programs to enhance communication between different social groups, which lays a foundation for harmonious, equal and inclusive cities.

For example, the "Zebra Project" in La Paz, Bolivia motivates young and vulnerable groups to participate in educational programs which inspires citizens to serve the society with a new appearance, and improves the living standards of citizens. Another example is a project in Bogota, Columbia called the "School at Hospital", which assists children and teenagers who are hospitalized to receive education and communicate with the outside world.

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