Thematic Cities Cluster

E-Commerce, Digitalization & Smart Cities

The Cities Cluster on E-commerce, digitalization and smart cities offers a space for knowledge sharing and collaboration between cities partners of the Global South on how to promote and strengthen e-commerce and achieve digital transformation to advance on sustainable development and build smarter cities.  

Cities are ideal locations for e-commerce businesses because, among other things, business owners can most efficiently reach the greatest number of customers and most easily access needed resources for production and marketing, including funding, human capital, and infrastructures. Globally, urban last-mile deliveries will increase by 78% by 2030 (Edwin Lopez, Jannifer McKevitt, 2017), and urban freight delivery growth will expand by 40% by 2050 (Emma Cosgrove, 2020). The implication is that e-commerce transactions are increasingly taking place in urban settings; the future of e-commerce will largely hinge on urban development and shape urban development. 

Quality of life and efficiency of urban operation and services and competitiveness can be drastically improved with the use of informational and communication technologies and innovations (ITU, 2021). However, there is no guarantee that citizens across the board will automatically benefit from the rapid diffusion of new technologies. Urban leaders should design, implement, and monitor smart city policies as a tool to improve well-being for all people. 

With widespread COVID-19 impacts and arising needs for a green and just recovery from the pandemic, the Cities Project commissioned 15 capacity development training webinars on e-commerce in 2020. Building on results achieved in the past year, the Cities Project will continue to carry out activities and facilitate capacity development and knowledge sharing among cities and institutions in partnership with specialized UN agencies and entities in 2021.  

The Cities Project welcomes city partners interested in participating in this Cities Cluster on E-commerce, digitalization and smart cities and hopes the knowledge exchanged here leads to more South-South cooperation and a swift post-pandemic social and economic recovery.

Featured Members of this Cluster

Aparecida de Goiânia


Aparecida de Goiânia will be 100 years old in 2022, filled with opportunities. At nearly 600,000 inhabitants and a privileged geographic location, it attracts investors and generates over 120,000 jobs.

The solid establishment of businesses and universities, within its territory, thrives around great perspectives in healthcare, energy supply, industry 4.0 and the concept of Smart Cities.

The city also has a video monitoring system to help reduce criminality, and saves energy through the use of solar power, seeking resources to install a photovoltaic farm.

Additionally, over 750 kilometers of optical fiber has been installed, along with a 7,600 terabytes data center.

Following Covid-19 WHO recommendations, the city implemented mass testing, check-ups, network expansion, service qualification, monitoring and treatment of afflicted patients, and a scheduling app for the vaccination campaign.

Aparecida evolves along with social, economic and environmental development, in order to care for its population with multiple best quality services.

Aparecida de Goiânia, Brazil


The Philippines

Baguio is located in the island of Luzon, which is the largest and most populous island in the Philippines. Its geographic location is at 16.411999° N and 120.59834° E with an elevation of 1,400 meters above sea level. The City has a resident population of 366,358 for 2020 growing at 1.54% per year that can reach 600,000 to almost 1 million during peak season of tourist arrivals. Nighttime population is 380,000. Population density is placed at 6,005 per square meter.

It is a landlocked mountainous City also referred to as the “City of Pines” and the “Summer Capital of the Philippines”, popular for its temperate climate and rich cultural background. It has a land area of 5,749 hectares. As to its land cover: 9.81% are declared as watershed and protected forest; 1.41% as parks and recreation areas; 11.04% are open spaces; and the rest are settlement areas.

The City is 206 kilometers away from Manila which takes about four (4) hours to drive. It serves as the gateway to other municipalities in the Cordillera Region mountains. It is the only highly urbanized City in the region. The city is the center for education, trade and tourism in the Cordillera region. It was also declared as a UNESCO Creative City because of its rich culture and tradition on arts and crafts.

Baguio City is also home to one of the country’s most profitable Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) areas called the Baguio City Economic Zone (BCEZ). The BCEZ caters to 44 locators which produce textiles, wearing apparels, electronics, plastic products and others. Production output in the BCEZ accounts for the bulk of the Cordillera’s total exports. The city is also considered the financial center of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). There are 82 banks operating in the city. Of these, 48 are Commercial, 23 are Rural and Cooperative and 11 Thrift banks. Baguio City is still the Summer Capital of the Philippines and remains to be among the top 14 destinations in the country. It is also among the top 20 destinations for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibition (MICE). It received close to 1.3 million tourists in 2016, with tourism receipts amounting to Php 8.1 billion.

Baguio, the Philippines

China Association of Trade in Services (CATIS)

China Association of Trade in Services (CATIS) is the only national trade in services organization of China. CATIS is a non-profit social organization with the approval from the State Council. It was established in 2007, with the strategic background of optimizing the international trade structure and highlighting the development of trade in services in China.

China Association of Trade in Services (CATIS)

São Paulo


The São Paulo City Hall is the government office in charge of management and control of the city of São Paulo, Brazil. São Paulo is a municipality in the Southeast Region of Brazil. The metropolis is an alpha global city and the most populous city in Brazil and the largest Portuguese-speaking city in the world. The city is the capital of the state of São Paulo, the most populous and wealthiest state in Brazil. It exerts strong national and international influence in commerce, finance, arts and entertainment.

São Paulo, Brazil

Shenzhen Federation of Youth Entrepreneurship Promotion

Shenzhen Federation of Youth Entrepreneurship Promotion

Founded in 2014, the Shenzhen Federation of Youth Entrepreneurship Promotion is an NGO which focuses on youth innovation and entrepreneurship in Shenzhen. The vision and mission is to “Become the cradle of entrepreneurship for innovative scientific and technological talents”.

Launched in 2017, the International Youth Innovation Conference (IYIC), a brand event of Shenzhen Youth Entrepreneurship Promotion Federation, has been successfully held for 5 sessions so far, reaching tens of thousands of young entrepreneurs and becoming an international platform to promote international communication in technology and innovation as well as China's sustainable development experience exchanges.

Shenzhen Federation of Youth Entrepreneurship Promotion

Latest News and Updates

Cities Clusters - E-commerceCities ProjectNews
April 5, 2021

China Cross-Border E-Commerce Trade Fair Concludes in “Digital Fuzhou” City

Opening Session featured knowledge and insights from 12 Southern Countries. Representative from the Brazilian Embassy in China introducing e-commerce in Brazil. Source: China Cross-border E-commerce Trade Fair 29 March 2021,…
Cities Clusters - DRRCities Clusters - E-commerceCities Clusters - TourismCities Clusters - TransportCities Clusters - WasteCities ProjectNews
November 11, 2020

35 Cities in Uzbekistan benefit from UNOSSC Cities Project Urban Development Workshop

On 6 November 2020, mayors and deputy mayors of 35 mid-sized cities in Uzbekistan completed an online training on transforming cities by developing business and enhancing the service sector, supported…
Cities Clusters - E-commerceCities ProjectEventsWebinars
August 11, 2020

Webinar Series: SSC & TrC Among Cities on Cross-border E-commerce & Digital Innovation for Sustainable Development

When: Fridays, between 14 August and 04 December 2020. To download the Training Report, please click here. Background The United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), through its Cities Project…
Cities Clusters - COVID-19Cities Clusters - E-commerceCities ProjectCities Project COVID-19 ResponseCOMSATS Featured Solutions POMNews
August 4, 2020

South-South Cooperation in Crypto Crowdfunding for PPE Mobilization for West Africa

10 August 2020, New York – 250,000 disposable surgical masks mobilized by the Finance Center for South-South Cooperation (FCSSC) together with its partners for the West African Health Organization (WAHO)…