We are United for Smart Sustainable Cities

Photo by Katerina Holmes from Pexels

The Organization for International Economic Relations (OiER) was established in 1947 as an international NGO and business platform to promote peace and international cooperation through economic development. OiER has grown to become a global platform for business, financial institutions, corporate entities, academic institutions, NGOs, scientific communities and governments. OiER’s objective is to support international economic relations and establish international contacts by implementing sustainable projects on a global scale.

One of these projects is the U4SSC IP, which stands for United for Smart Sustainable Cities Implementation Programme. The U4SSC Implementation Programme builds on strong collaborative networks with cites, governments, international organizations, the UN, the private and finance sectors. One key component of the U4SSC Implementation Programme is offering a Digital Global Solutions Platform for businesses, cities and experts designed to align and match public sector needs, private sector solutions underpinning the Sustainable Development Goals at the city level.

“A smart sustainable city is an innovative city that uses information and communication technologies (ICTs) and other means to improve quality of life, efficiency of urban operation and services, and competitiveness, while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and future generations with respect to economic, social, environmental as well as cultural aspects”.

Recommendation ITU-T Y.4900

U4SSC IP collects data from different cities in order to set its performance, based on economic, environmental and, societal and cultural characteristics, or KPIs (key performance indicators) (Fig.1). The KPIs are then further sub-divided into core and advanced indicators, consisting in a total of 91 indicators that can be found here. Some examples for these are: household Internet access or sanitation, basic water supply, or unemployment rate for the economic dimension, drinking water quality, green area accessibility or renewable energy consumption for the environmental dimension and, school enrolment, life expectancy, poverty rate or police and fire services, for the societal and cultural characteristics.

Figure 1: City Performance for Karmøy, Norway. Performance Benchmark Targets apply to all sections of the graphic. Starting from the centre: Dimensions, Categories and KPIs (from U4SSC’s “Verification Report Karmøy, Norway, September 2020”).

Each KPI has been chosen through a process of review and input by international experts and UN agencies, in order to provide a holistic view of a Smart Sustainable City. Therefore, the U4SSC KPIs provide cities with the means for self-assessment and monitoring of their sustainable development progress to:

  • ​Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  • Become a smarter city; and
  • Become a more sustainable city.​

But, what are the SDGs?

In 2015, all United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in order to address the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. In the core of this agenda, we find the 17 SDGs, which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

And, why cities need to be smart and sustainable?

Cities are the drivers of national economic development. A significant portion of the world’s population lives in urban areas, with the number expected to rise up to 70% in the foreseeable future. With an increasing Wold’s population and with the rapid levels of urbanization occurring today, we might expect adverse effects on the environment and on its citizens. These adverse effects can be experienced in the form of poverty, inequality, employment, services, transport, climate change and politics. Does it sound familiar? Yes, we might have already experienced them… Therefore, sustainability and smartness are long-term propositions; a better future for all of us.

So, what can we do?

The UN has an on-going campaign for individual action on climate change and sustainability. We, as individuals, have many things to do in order to help creating a better future for the new generations, but we as a company, as well. Oxyl-Clean AS is included in the U4SSC Implementation Programme, helping to push the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Being more specific, Oxyl-Clean AS’s action is focused on the following SDGs:

Our company distributes the unique product Freebac. Freebac is a food safe stabilized hydrogen peroxide disinfectant that destroys microorganisms and removes biofilm fast and effective. Freebac is stabilized within a gel that only activates and opens during contact with specific biological markers, leading to the hydrogen peroxide to be only released to places when and where it is necessary. Freebac does not contain silver or any other heavy metals, and it degrades to oxygen and water without producing disinfection by-products. Freebac is the sustainable alternative that we all need for the present future!

But, let’s have a look into the endless applications of Freebac, and how they relate to the previous SDGs. Freebac has successfully been used within agriculture and livestock. Freebac is designed for use in agriculture and horticulture, for disinfection of water systems, like pipes tanks and water irrigation distribution systems. But also to disinfect empty cold rooms and greenhouses, by fogging or spraying, before setting the new batch of plants and vegetables, and as hard surface cleansers. In addition to all these, Freebac also serves to disinfect feeding and drinking systems, controlling disease on farms. Therefore, Oxyl-Clean AS is contributing to support smallholder farmers’ ability to increase food production (Goal 2: Zero Hunger).

Drinking water quality is essential for public health; however, 10% of the global population do not have access to improved drinking-water sources and, at least 2 billion people used a drinking water source contaminated with faeces in 2017, according to The World Health Organization. Contaminated water pose a risk of disease transmission such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio, according to the same organization. Freebac can be used to treat drinking water systems in order to control and eliminate water-borne diseases (Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation), improving sanitation and hygiene for millions of people (Goal 3: Good Health and Well Being).

As previously stated, rapid urbanization is leading to inadequate infrastructures and services (such as waste collection and water and sanitation systems, roads and transport), that are getting more and more overload. This is making the air we breathe more polluted and can have a potential impact on the natural environment. Therefore, it is important to pay special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management (Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities).

Most of the resources we need for surviving come from this natural environment, that is being affected by human activity. Consumption and production are driving forces of the global economy; however, economic and social progress over the last century has been accompanied by environmental degradation, making our future development uncertain. It is therefore necessary a proper chemical and waste management, minimizing their discharges into the air, water and soil, so impacts on human health and the environment be also minimized. Oxyl Clean AS is therefore trying to implement sustainable practices along our production system (Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns), as well as offering a sustainable disinfection product that does not endanger humans or nature (Goal 13: Climate Action). And in here we can include the marine environment as well. There is a need to reduce land-based marine pollution of all kinds in order to have productive and healthy oceans, which provide us with several ecosystem services. The fact that Freebac degrades into water and oxygen after use makes a difference on reaching goal fourteen (Goal 14: Life Below Water), and also helping the degradation of natural habitats on land, like forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, for instance (Goal 15: Life on Land).

Over 100 cities worldwide are already implementing the KPIs, including Dubai, Singapore, Manizales, Montevideo, Maldonado, Foshan, Wuxi, Guangshan, Kairouan, Pully, Trondheim, Aalesund, Moscow, Valencia, Rimini and, of course the place in which our company is based on: Karmøy. Our goal therefore, is helping not just our city, but also all the cities that are already taking action and are focusing their efforts into being sustainable.

“If the future is green and sustainable, the future is already here with Freebac.”