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 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.

In 2020, the Cities Project commissioned 15 capacity development training webinars on e-commerce. The 15 webinars received a total of close to 4.9 million views through three live broadcast platforms. More than 1,500 participants from 56 countries completed the post-training survey.

In March 2022, in partnership with UNOSSC, the Ministry of Commerce of China hosted a 5-day training program – “South-South Cooperation in Cross-border E-Commerce for Poverty Eradication and Global Sustainable Development”. The training received close to 1,100 registrations from over 90 countries and territories. Two reports summarizing the training sessions and highlights are produced respectively and has contributed to the knowledge repository the Cities Project is constructing.

Building on results achieved in the past years, 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.

Featured Members of this Cluster



The Afadzato District is one of the 46 administrative districts created in 2012 with its capital at Ve-Golokuati, about 58km from Ho, 20km from Hohoe, and 200km from Accra. The total land area of the district is 553.0 square Kilometres about 3.06 % of the total land size of the Volta Region. Moreover, the location of the district has the potential to boost both local and foreign trade.

The Afadzato South District Assembly exists to improve both social and economic life of her people through efficient and effective resource mobilization, maintaining a strong agricultural base for further industrial development, being a leading tourist centre in Ghana and preserving cultural heritage of her people and the Region at large.

Afadzato, Ghana

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

The 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

Gansu Provincial People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries


Gansu Provincial People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (GPAFFC) is a not-for-profit civil group, whose work is guided by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC). GPAFFC aims to increase mutual understanding and nurture friendship between people from around the world and promote exchanges and cooperation in economy, trade, society, culture, science and technology and education.

Gansu Provincial People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, China

Hunan University Business School


As one of the oldest business schools in China, Hunan University Business School has a long history dating back to the year of 1911, and the name was Hunan Business Teacher Institute. There were a lot of famous alumni in different fields studying here. Over the subsequent years, the Business School has then proceeded to develop its academic reputation in both teaching and research in business fields.

Not only is it glorious in history, but Hunan University Business School is also entering into a brighter and higher position nowadays. Hunan University is ranked 81st among Asian Universities (Times Higher Education, 2014), and Hunan University Business School is ranked 12th in the last China Discipline Ranking of 2012, which was hosted by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

Hunan University Business School, China

Maritime-Continental Silk Road Cities Alliance Business Council


The Business Council of the Maritime-Continental Silk Road Cities Alliance was established in 2015 in Quanzhou, Fujian. The Council aims to promote in-depth cooperation and communications between cities along the maritime and continental silk roads, particularly in transportation, trade and investment, resources and energy, and financial security.

Maritime-Continental Silk Road Cities Alliance Business Council, China



Mumbwa District is situated about 140Km from Lusaka and has a population of approximately 176,620 people. 88,762 are females (50.3%) and 87,858 are males (49.7%). Its average annual Population Growth Rate stands at 3.2%, and the population distribution is 10.7 per km2.
The district has a total land size of approximately 23, 800 km2.

Mumbwa, Zambia

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, China

Shah Alam


Shah Alam is a city and the state capital of Selangor, Malaysia. It is located within the Petaling District and a small portion of the neighboring Klang District.

Shah Alam is also one of the major cities within the Klang Valley, an area in Malaysia comprising Kuala Lumpur and its suburbs, and adjoining cities and towns in the state of Selangor. The Klang River flows through Shah Alam on its way westward to the Strait of Malacca.

Shah Alam, Malaysia

Southern African Research and Documentation Centre


The Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) is an independent regional knowledge resource centre established in 1985 to strengthen regional policy perspectives and track implementation on a range of issues in southern Africa and works in partnership at national and regional levels.

SARDC is made up of topical institutes that focus on relevant regional processes such as regional economic integration and infrastructure development including energy, transport, trade, technology, and tourism; as well as environment, water resources and climate change; gender equality and women in decision-making; media and elections; and China Africa studies, and has a long track record of achievements, in partnership with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and others.

Southern African Research and Documentation Centre

Women Innovative Research (WIR) Institute of Greater Bay Area (GBA)


Women Innovative Research (WIR) Institute of Greater Bay Area (GBA) is devoted to ‘empowering the future’ and focusing on the development of the career life cycle for women. It aims to support women in exploring their potentials, developing an international horizon and finding a new position for women in the Greater Bay Area, so as to improve the global influence of women in this region.

Women Innovative Research Institute of Greater Bay Area, China

Zambia Institute of Trade Policy


Zambia Institute of Trade Policy (ZITP) is a trade policy think-tank that contributes to enhanced competitive and productive trade led sustainable growth.

Our mission is to conduct independent empirical evidence-based trade policy research and play an advisory and advocacy role intended to contribute to a robust, sustainable and inclusive development focused trade policy framework at national, regional and global levels.

Thematic Areas that ZITP works on include:
✓ Trade Policy and Trade Law Research and Development
✓ Trade Negotiations
✓ Training and Membership Services
✓ Trade Policy Advocacy and Development

Zambia Institute of Trade Policy, Zambia

Latest News and Updates

Cities Clusters - E-commerceCities ProjectNews
November 9, 2023

6th China International Import Expo: An Important Platform to Promote South-South Trade

From 5 to 10 November, the 6th China International Import Expo (CIIE) was held in Shanghai, bringing together over 3,400 exhibitors from 154 countries, regions, and international organizations. Among them,…
Cities Clusters - E-commerceCities ProjectNews
July 24, 2023

UNOSSC and China Conduct Seminar Series on South-South Cooperation in Cross-border E-commerce

24 July 2023: A capacity development seminar on South-South cooperation in cross-border e-commerce for poverty eradication and global sustainable development opened in Beijing today. Eighteen policy-makers and practitioners from 14…
Cities Clusters - COVID-19Cities Clusters - E-commerceCities ProjectGender EventsNews
June 10, 2023

Experience Exchange on Women’s Economic Empowerment Held among Cities in Argentina, China, Ghana, Nepal & Pakistan

On 9 June 2023, the  United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation's (UNOSSC) Cities Project held an online exchange on women’s economic empowerment, bringing together officials and representatives from Buenos Aires…
Cities Clusters - COVID-19Cities Clusters - E-commerceCities ProjectGender NewsNews
November 2, 2022

Experience Exchange on Gender Equality and Women’s Entrepreneurship Held Among Cities in China, Jordan and Peru

On 28 October 2022, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) organized an online exchange on gender equality and women’s entrepreneurship, bringing together officials and representatives from the Greater…

Knowledge Products

Cities Clusters - E-commerce Knowledge ProductsCities Project Knowledge ProductsDigital Transformation PublicationsPublications
September 21, 2022

Innovative Experiences of Cities in South-South Cooperation in Cross-border E-commerce and Digital Innovation

In 2020, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation and the China Association of Trade in Services (CATIS) jointly organized a webinar series on "South-South and Triangular Cooperation Among Cities…
Cities Clusters - E-commerce Knowledge Products
April 20, 2022

Report of Training Seminar: SSC in Cross-border E-commerce for Poverty Eradication and Global Sustainable Development

The global cross-border e-commerce landscape is rapidly evolving, with increased relevance for developing countries and emerging economies. The share of cross-border e-commerce in global trade has continued to grow at…
Cities Clusters - E-commerce Knowledge ProductsCities Project Knowledge Products
April 30, 2021

Training Report: Cross-border E-commerce & Digital Innovation

Training Report: South-South & Triangular Cooperation Among Cities on Cross-border E-commerce & Digital Innovation for Sustainable Development E-commerce is an effective instrument with which developing countries can unlock the opportunities…