RMIT and Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee have joined together with international and industry experts at the annual Smart Cities Forum 2021 to discuss the keys to building smart and sustainable cities, as well as signing a smart city collaboration MOU.

The inaugural event brought together thought leaders from Australia, Singapore, Japan and Vietnam who shared observations, inputs and successful case studies on urban futures that could be applied to Vietnamese cities.

International experts said that urban leaders worldwide were grappling with the policy and planning task of creating cities that were both smart and sustainable.

They said the challenge was balancing the future capacity for global city competitiveness, social stability and economic resilience, with the innovative ability to offer smart economic infrastructure and services.

The forum, held on Friday 22 January, featured participants attending in person in Ho Chi Minh City and joining virtually from Australia and other Asia-Pacific locations.

Victorian Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Dr Gillian Sparkes, delivered a keynote, highlighting the combination of science, technology and sustainable development as the keys to a smart city.

A key outcome of the event was RMIT and the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to foster collaboration in key development areas for the city, which has a population of more than eight million people.

As a leading global university of design and technology, RMIT has assisted the public and private sectors in Australia with research and applications on city design and sustainable urban development to best respond to changing socio-economic and environmental conditions.

Following the direction of former Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee Secretary, Nguyen Thien Nhan, the MOU will support stronger collaboration between RMIT and the city to develop and maintain international education standards in Vietnam, smart city development, leadership capacity, innovation and start-up promotion.

RMIT Vietnam Chairman, Professor Peter Coloe, said the University was committed to making long-lasting impacts in Vietnam, not only through the lives of its graduates but also through its knowledge and capabilities.

“Leveraging our resources and networks, we are committed to making the Smart Cities Forum an annual event to offer long-lasting support to smart city development in Vietnam,” Professor Coloe said.

Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Vice Chairman, Associate Professor Dr Duong Anh Duc, said the city was in the second phase of its smart city plan, which had seen about $150 million invested.

“We expect to increase international cooperation for the next phases of the project and beyond, which is why forums like this are much welcome platforms for networking and knowledge sharing,” Dr Duc said.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, College of Business and Law and Vice-President, Professor Julie Cogin, said the College and the University more broadly had become renowned for leadership in research and application of sustainable development techniques, including in smart city design.

“We have established a research cluster on Managing Smart Transformation at the School of Business and Management in Vietnam and will also open a Smart City Hub at our Ho Chi Minh City campus,” Professor Cogin said.

The Smart Cities Forum 2021 was part of the Vietnam Leads policy workshop series hosted by RMIT, and one of the University’s 20th anniversary celebrations in Vietnam in 2020 and 2021. 

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