Challenges, Predictions, Perspectives


Sofia, 18-20th October 2018


New Bulgarian University


Working languages: English and French

Urban life is already commonplace for most of the Earth’s population (4, 027 billion people live in the cities, according to the World Bank data of 2016, as the tendency is to reach 66% by 2050 (UN Report of the Department for Economic and Social Affairs, 2014). The growth of the urban population is accompanied by numerous and complex changes. Conventional concepts and ideas about the city and city life are being transformed.  Megapolises, rightly called “cities-regions”, are exposed to a combination of risks arising from overpopulation, insecurity, segregation, alienation, violence, pollution and the general deterioration of the environment and the quality of life of the citizens.  On the other hand, the expansion of large cities has led to depopulation and decline of small settlements with all the consequences for sustainable development. These imbalances also have effects on the regional level leading to significant differences in the development dynamics and the living conditions.  Thus, urban governance stands out as one of the most significant challenges facing the societies in the 21st century.

New conceptual approaches to urban planning and management such as Smart Cities and Villes en transition are trying to respond to the most significant technological, economic and environmental challenges of our time, such as climate change, economic restructuring, demographic growth, population aging and prolonging life expectancy – factors that exert considerable pressure on the public resources and finances. The first approach is inspired mostly by technical and technological solutions based on advances in the digital sphere, the development of artificial intelligence, the emergence of new “smart” data networks, services and connections. The second one relies on local-level bottom-up solidarity solutions that aim to mobilize communities and territorial resources. A number of major cities have already demonstrated excellence in this area.