City planning and urban policy experts from Korea and elsewhere have discussed the future of cities and national urban policies in Incheon. 

An international conference, "The Future of National Urban Policy: Towards Smarter and Greener Cities," was held from Dec. 14 to 18 in Songdo, Incheon. The five-day program was hosted by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (U.N.-Habitat) and the Korea Research Institute of Human Settlements, along with the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. 

About 500 urban policy experts from 32 different countries and international organizations attended the conference and shared their urbanization experiences and discussed innovative urban policies for the future, including the development of smart and green cities. 

Vice Minister Kim Kyung-hwan opened the conference with his keynote speech on Dec. 14. The vice minister first mentioned Habitat II, the second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, held in 1996 as part of the global community's efforts to tackle overpopulation and worsening living conditions in cities due to urbanization. He spoke about the way in which all of this has contributed to growth and to developments in urban infrastructure, such as road, water and sewage systems, and people's right to adequate housing. However, he also mentioned that developing parts of the world still face urban challenges, such as slums and environmental issues. Stressing awareness of disasters caused by climate change and preventions for them, the vice minister concluded by saying that Korea's successful cases and experiences of urbanization, its development of "smart cities," its environmentally friendly building management systems and smart transportation systems can provide inspirational solutions for future urban policies. 

During the five-day program, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development organized a meeting with urban policy experts to prepare for "Habitat III" which is scheduled to be held next year. On the fourth and fifth day of the conference, attendees from developing countries visited places like the Cheonggyecheon Stream and the newly-built towns of Pangyo City and Sejong City where Korea's urban development can be observed first-hand.