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Lance Jay Brown, Founder of the Consortium for Sustainable Development, at the 23rd Infopoverty World Conference

The built environment, including planning, architecture, and design, intersects with every Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). Importantly, this interaction is not just aspirational or potential; it is evident in the realized buildings, settlements, and cities worldwide. Architectural solutions are already in place, contributing significantly to sustainable communities and enhancing the quality of life.

However, the built environment also presents current challenges. It is a major consumer of energy and natural resources and a significant producer of waste. Additionally, construction practices can exacerbate inequalities and impact health, as underlined by LANCE JAY BROWN, Founder of the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization (CSU)


“Thank you, Aliye, and thank you for your comments and kind words. I want to thank you for the opportunity to join you all today, the officials, the conveners, the speakers, Martina, and especially President Pierpaolo Saporito. The title of this session, Urban-Rural Linkages to Promote Sustainable Development and Clean Energy of Urban and Rural Communities, and the role of AI, not added to the title, is essential. But before I start my quick comments, I'd like to start by saying that both the urban and the rural need to deal with the challenges of climate change. And everything I say is under the umbrella that this is our driving force.
So, whatever follows, I hope you'll see in that light, that we are on a six-year countdown to 2030 for the SDGs, and much of what needs to be done must be done in partnership. And resettlement is not just coming this year, resettlement being what you all understand to be the movement of people around the world based on climate change. I believe we're all personally and professionally aware of the urban and rural continuum and the important roles played by each of these environments. Even as agriculture becomes urban and the community becomes rural, each end of the continuum remains essential. And the continuum itself is always dynamic and changing as we expand.
Urban geography includes mega regions, megalopolises, metropolises, conurbations, very urban, suburban, rural, and hinterland, all shown on the Doxiades EKISTICS grid. As was recently noted in the India Times: “AI will close the communication and technology gap between urban and rural India. To sum it up, the imperative adoption of AI in rural India emerges as a transformative force, unlocking unprecedented opportunities across education, finance, agriculture, infrastructure, and connectivity.” So, the interplay between urban and rural and the ever-evolving complexity of the peri-urban is essential to the spiritual and physical well-being of us all. Of course, this wellness is especially important in those remote areas and the many that suffer the most deleterious consequences of the more developed areas of our post-industrial world. 
As OCCAM notes, the interdependency that promotes sustainable, equitable progress, again, underscores both the current and prospective opportunities within infrastructure, clean energy, and community development. Now, previous sessions today have addressed much of what I would mention as well. The many profound ethical and moral issues related to our ever-emerging and dramatically accelerating technical, digital ICTs, AI environment, and the world of AI, and augmented reality, which probably could have deserved a session all of its own. For those unfamiliar, you can look further at that. 
But how exactly does AI cut across and assist in the pursuit of the 17 SDGs, that is, our consortium's pursuit? In this regard, I think of the UIA research on how architecture intersects with each of the 17 SDGs, their valuable publication, the Architectural Guide to the 17 SDGs, in which the role of architecture is explained and illustrated in case studies for each. Might such a toolkit be developed for AI applications as they relate specifically to the built environment? At the last OCCAM gathering here at the UN, I briefly discussed the advent of 3D robotic printing and the potential for this emerging technology to improve living conditions in remote areas, especially in housing. How might AI further augment this in similar inventions and innovations? That's a challenge.
I recall moderating a session titled Network 11 at the Smart Cities meeting in Barcelona. Among the critical things I remember was Pakistan's Minister of Education declaring that her role was to bring digital connectivity for education to every rural community in the country during her role. This, paired with the very early Smart Cities conference meetings in DEI, opened the door to addressing broad contemporary challenges meeting fundamental human needs. Prior meetings focused heavily and mostly on surveillance and security and issues of defense, leaving the humanistic concerns much in abeyance. I imagine that most attendees today are familiar with the work of Mustafa Suleyman. I'm mightily impressed with his “AI for everyone”. And after hearing him discuss his vast range of AI exciting potentials, I met with a Scottish colleague who told me about a friend of his that was developing a device not unlike a pregnancy test that we could all take home. And we could take a urine test and a urine analysis would be delivered to us at home rather instantly.
What does this do? With the immediate results, no costly time-consuming doctor visit, no lab time, no lab cost. And imagine if such systems could help in the decision-making and implementing urban and rural energy and development needs. No need to imagine, Augmented Reality (AR), supported by AI, is here. We can already simulate, in real time, and we should use these as they are being used to do such things as develop projects in the heart of the city and the location of bridges in hinterland. So given my references to 3D printing, the UIA architecture SDGs, the role of AI, digitization of the rural environment, the unbelievable potential of AI as evidenced in medicine today, I'm left to wonder in what ways the physical designed environment will both lead and respond to these new opportunities. What new relationships, what new systems, what changes in our architecture and environmental design and planning, what new multifunction community telegathering facilities will develop to take maximum advantage.
It is here that the mission of the CSU can be most meaningfully actualized, and our Green Cities programs will, within the next season, focus on and explore these activities. I have truly enjoyed all the previous presentations to date. I am so looking forward to my fellow panelists' comments and hearing from Mayor Bertrand about the progress in the UN Millennium Village in Madagascar. Thank you for your time, and may we all benefit greatly from today's sessions.”


The FINAL DECLARATION of the 23rd Infopoverty World Conference is now available! The Plan of Action including a list of projects and proposals that emerged from the discussion will be available soon. STAY TUNED!

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