UN ITU Event How to successfully develop People-Centred CitiVerse?

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UN ITU Event How to successfully develop People-Centred CitiVerse?

October 30, 2023 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Metaverses for Cities

While the hype of metaverse is gradually fade away, the opportunity of using metaverse for future cities development seem to start to pick up.

The metaverse is a virtual world that is still under development, but it has the potential to revolutionize the way we live, work, and play. Cities are at the forefront of this revolution, as they are looking for ways to use the metaverse to improve the lives of their residents.

One way that cities are using the metaverse is to create digital twins of themselves. Digital twins are virtual representations of real-world objects and systems. They can be used to simulate and analyze different scenarios, which can help cities to make better decisions about urban planning, transportation, and other important issues.

Metaverse Seoul digital twin

Seoul, South Korea, is one of the first cities in the world to create a digital twin. The Metaverse Seoul platform allows users to explore a virtual replica of the city, including its buildings, streets, and parks. Users can also use the platform to access government services, participate in cultural events, and even shop for virtual goods and services.

Another way that cities are using the metaverse is to create new educational and training opportunities. For example, the city of Dubai is developing a metaverse-based platform that will allow students to learn about different aspects of urban planning and design. The platform will also allow students to practice their skills in a simulated environment.


Dubai metaversebased platform for urban planning and design

Dubai is at the forefront of innovation in many areas, including the metaverse. In 2022, Dubai Municipality announced plans to develop a metaverse-based platform for urban planning and design. This platform will allow planners and designers to create and visualize digital twins of Dubai, which can then be used to test and evaluate different urban planning scenarios.

The Dubai metaverse-based platform for urban planning and design is expected to have a number of benefits, including:

  • Improved efficiency: The platform will allow planners and designers to work together more efficiently and collaboratively. They will be able to share and review plans in real time, and they will be able to test and evaluate different scenarios without having to build physical prototypes.
  • Better decision-making: The platform will provide planners and designers with a more realistic and immersive view of Dubai. This will help them to make better decisions about the city’s future development.
  • Increased public engagement: The platform can be used to engage the public in the urban planning process. Residents can use the platform to view and comment on proposed plans, and they can also use the platform to suggest their own ideas for the city’s future.

Overall, the Dubai metaverse-based platform for urban planning and design has the potential to make Dubai a more sustainable, livable, and inclusive city.


Santa Monica metaversebased platform for businesses

Santa Monica is home to a number of innovative companies, including several that are developing metaverse-based platforms for businesses. One of these is FlickPlay, which launched in 2022 and became the first U.S. city to offer access to the metaverse through its app.

FlickPlay is a play-to-earn metaverse social app that allows users to collect digital collectibles and rewards, which can then be redeemed for physical items at retailers and locations throughout Santa Monica. The app uses augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to create an immersive experience that bridges the physical and digital worlds.

Another Santa Monica-based company developing metaverse platforms for businesses is Mesmerise. Mesmerise is a UK-based company that opened its first U.S. office in Santa Monica in 2022. Mesmerise helps businesses integrate VR into their operations, including for training, marketing, and collaboration.

Mesmerise’s metaverse platform allows businesses to create custom virtual worlds where employees and customers can interact with each other and with digital objects. For example, Mesmerise has worked with Bold Capital Partners, a Santa Monica-based venture capital firm, to create a virtual gathering space where the firm can hold meetings with entrepreneurs and investors.

The metaverse is still in its early stages of development, but it has the potential to have a major impact on cities. As the metaverse continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more innovative and creative ways that cities are using it to improve the lives of their residents.

Here are some other potential benefits of the metaverse for cities:

Improved citizen engagement: The metaverse can be used to create more engaging and interactive ways for citizens to participate in government and community activities.

Enhanced public services: The metaverse can be used to deliver public services in a more efficient and effective way. For example, citizens could use the metaverse to access government services, such as applying for a passport or renewing their driver’s license, without having to visit a physical government office.

Reduced traffic congestion: The metaverse could help to reduce traffic congestion by providing people with a way to work, learn, and socialize remotely.

More sustainable urban planning: The metaverse can be used to simulate and analyze different urban planning scenarios, which can help cities to make more sustainable decisions about land use, transportation, and energy consumption.

Overall, the metaverse has the potential to make cities more livable, sustainable, and equitable.


People Centred CitiVerse

CitiVerse is a vision for the future of cities and communities, where digital twins are interconnected to create a virtual world that is synchronized with the physical world. It is a space where citizens, businesses, and governments can interact and collaborate in new ways, to solve complex problems and build a more sustainable and inclusive future.

The European Commission launched the CitiVerse initiative in 2023, with the goal of developing a European alternative to the metaverse. The initiative is based on the principles of openness, transparency, and inclusivity, and it aims to create a CitiVerse that is accessible to all, regardless of their income, location, or technological expertise.

The key feature of CitiVerse is that it put the needs, wellbeing and happiness of people at the centre of its development. You can say CitiVerse means Metaverse for Cities, or Citizen Centred Metaverse for future cities. The key is to empower tens of thousands to tens of millions of people to use immersive technolgoies to play a proactive role in the creation and development of their cities.

The possibilities are endless. The CitiVerse is a new world, and it is up to us to shape it.


The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for many matters related to information and communication technologies (ICTs). It was established on 17 May 1865 as the International Telegraph Union, making it the oldest UN agency. Doreen Bogdan-Martin is the Secretary-General of ITU, the first woman to serve as its head.

The ITU’s main functions are to:

Promote the shared global use of the radio spectrum, which is a finite resource that is essential for wireless communications.

Facilitate international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, which are also a finite resource that is essential for satellite communications.

Assist in developing and coordinating worldwide technical standards, which ensure that ICT networks and devices can interoperate seamlessly.

Work to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world, to help bridge the digital divide.

The ITU has played a key role in the development of ICTs. It was responsible for the development of the first international telegraph and telephone conventions, and it has continued to play a leading role in the development of new technologies, such as the Internet and mobile communications.

The ITU’s work is essential for the continued development and growth of ICTs. It helps to ensure that ICTs are used in a fair and equitable manner, and it helps to promote the benefits of ICTs for all.

Here are some of the ITU’s key activities:

World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRCs) are held every three to four years to allocate the radio spectrum and satellite orbits.

ITU-T Recommendations are technical standards that ensure that ICT networks and devices can interoperate seamlessly.

ITU-D Development Programmes provide financial and technical assistance to developing countries to improve their telecommunication infrastructure.

The ITU is a global organization with over 193 member states. It also has a number of associate members, such as non-governmental organizations and private sector companies.

The ITU’s headquarters are located in Geneva, Switzerland.

ITU and The Metaverse Institute are partnering together to organise a series of webinars with high level leaders to define and develop the UN roadmap on CitiVerse-People Centred Future Cities

As CEO of The Metaverse Institute and Co-chair of International Telecommunication Union FG-MV Task Group on Pre-standardisation on CitiVerse, we are honoured to partner with ITU to organise a series of webinars to set up the UN definition and roadmap on how governments worldwide can use emerging technologies to develop people-centred future cities that are inclusive, sustainable and participatory.

The first epesode, we are honoured to have some of the world’s leading experts joining us for this disucssion on “How to successfully develop People-Centred citiverse?”


Dr Christina Yan Zhang

CEO of The Metaverse Institute

Christina will be moderating the 2 hours session with the worlds top leaders on the future development of CitiVerse for the UN.


Luis Bernardo Nava Guerrero

Mayor, Queretaro Municipio de Querétaro


Luis Nava Guerrero was born on January 18th 1975 in Santiago de Queretaro, Queretaro. He has a Bachelor Degree in Economics and a Master Degree in High Management. He is a member of the National Action Party (PAN). He has been local legislator (2012-2015) Chief of Staff of the Governor’s Office at Queretaro and became the first Mayor in being reelected in the city of Queretaro.

According to different polling houses, he is one of the three best evaluated mayors in the Country, with a 77% of approval within the population. He is President of the Mexican World Heritage Cities Association and Vice President of the Mayors Nacional Association, where municipalities are strengthened through sharing best practices and experiences.

On April 2022, he participated in the special meeting of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations at New York, representing the world’s local governments, and on July 2023, he participated at the United Nations Assembly of the Habitat that was celebrated at Nairobi, Kenya. Queretaro is the fourth city in Latin America to count with the three most relevant designations given by the UNESCO: World Heritage City, since 1996, and during Luis Nava mandate the designation as Creative City of Design (2019) and Learning City (2022).

As a Creative and Learning City, and also as a member of the Michelin Cities Network, Luis Nava has promoted in Queretaro innovative solutions in the city, for the best quality of life of its inhabitants, giving a special place to the use of technology in areas such as mobility, security and public services. Because of this, he has pushed forward the concept of smart cities in Mexico, and he has been invited to international forums on this matter.


Dr Jung Sook Park

Secretary General

WeGO | World Smart Sustainable Cities Organization

Jung Sook Park focuses on Human-Centered Sustainable Smart Cities as the Secretary general of WeGO.

“As the world faces intensifying challenges as environmental tensions grow, populations age and urbanize, and wealth and consumption increase, it has become more important to address these challenges using a holistic and smart approach. In every sector of today’s society, ranging from the economy, education, infrastructure, governance, welfare, environment, tourism, and media, to arts, policy implementation is not possible without the smart city technology or mechanism. Nowadays, smart city development is increasingly turning its attention to establishing the software or contents of smart cities. If culture is defined as ‘what we repeatedly do,’ the smart city is no longer a simple application of technology to solve urban issues. Smart city framework has become a culture in itself for the lives of citizens.”

Prior to her appointment as Secretary-General of WeGO in 2021, Jung Sook Park has dedicated her career in the field of international cooperation. She served as the Korean Representative of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI) for ten years from 2009 to 2018, and she worked as a high-profile broadcaster as the host of morning news shows for major TV networks in Korea for over ten years from 1994 to 2004, as well as starring in “Jewel in the Palace,” one of the highest-rated TV dramas in the world. Since then, she has focused her career on education and research as a professor at Kyung Hee University and an adjunct professor of cultural diplomacy at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea.

She served as the honorary ambassador for Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and the City of Seoul with a mission of increasing public awareness on Korea’s leading and responsible role in the international community. As a philanthropist, she is the Founder and Executive Director of the Multicultural Network & Hope Kids Korea, an NGO that provides education and mentoring for underprivileged children in Korea. Ms. Park is a graduate of Seoul Women’s University (BA), Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (MIA)in U.S., and Yonsei University’s School of Public Administration (MPA) in Korea. She was a visiting scholar and studied in a doctoral program at Keio University in Japan.

Currently, she has been appointed as a member of the Committee for International Development Cooperation and Exim bank of Korea, which decides Korea’s ODA policy, and is also a member of the board of the Korean Olympic Committee, responsible for sports exchanges, and engages in a member of the audience committee of CBS Broadcasting Corporation.


Dr Edlam Abera Yemeru

Chief, Knowledge and Innovation Branch

UN-Habitat (United Nations Human Settlements Programme)

Edlam Abera Yemeru is currently the Chief of the Urbanization and Development Section at UN-Habitat responsible to lead global policy analysis, data analytics and foresight to assess and propose solutions for sustainable urbanization. She also leads the Agency in its innovation work on digital and smart city solutions.

This involves strengthening linkages between spatial planning and economic, national and sector policy priorities and investments, including through long-term program and project prioritization. She also co-authored several editions of the Global Report on Human Settlements.

Edlam holds an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in Human Geography from the University of London.


Nicholas You

Executive Director

Guangzhou Institute for Urban Innovation, China

Nicholas You is a veteran urban specialist. He served as the senior policy and planning advisor to UN-Habitat and as the manager of the Habitat II Conference held in Istanbul in 1996.

He is the founder and honorary chairman of the UN-Habitat World Urban Campaign Steering Committee, former thought leader for the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Siemens, ENGIE and the Global Cities Business Alliance. He served for several years as an adjunct to the Center for Livable Cities, Singapore.

He is currently the Executive Director of the Guangzhou Institute for Urban Innovation, co-Chair of the Open Green City Lab in Shenzhen, and senior green finance advisor to the China City Development Foundation. He regularly advises central and local governments, technology companies and civil society organisations on urban sustainability, urban governance and urban innovation and has written and co-authored key policy papers for the U20.

More recently he has been advising cities and regional authorities on the potential contribution of the metaverse to sustainable development.


Roland van der Heijden

Program Manager Digital City, Gemeente Rotterdam

The Netherland

From origin a city planner Roland always has had a great interest in how a city is developing. Recently a whole new world is added to the ‘traditional’ social-physical city, namely the digital city.

In the future city people will live, move and interact fluidly between complete digital surroundings, complete physical surroundings and every hybrid form in between. In this new reality digital is much more than just an instrument for solutions, it will fundamentally change our behavior and the world we live in. If this is the new reality we are facing, what does this mean for our concept of cities? What kind of images are attached to this new city? What does this fundamental shift do with the challenges cities are dealing with? And what is the role of the government in this new reality?

Questions Rotterdam tries to answer in her digital city program, of which Roland is the program manager.


Dr Marwan Alzarouni

Strategic Advisor, Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism

CEO, Dubai Blockchain Center, UAE

Dr. Marwan Al Zarouni is a distinguished Strategic Advisor at the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism. He boasts an extensive career spanning over two decades, during which he has made significant contributions to the development of projects in the domains of Emerging Technology, Information Security, Digital Forensics, and Artificial Intelligence.

Dr. Al Zarouni’s influence extends beyond his advisory role, as he is an esteemed keynote speaker and a trusted advisor to the Dubai Government. He actively participates in various high-level Councils and Committees dedicated to Cyber Security, Blockchain Technology, and Artificial Intelligence. His expertise in blockchain technology has earned him international recognition, notably as one of CoinTelegraph’s top 100 most influential figures worldwide in blockchain and cryptocurrencies in 2022.

Furthermore, Dr. Marwan Al Zarouni has served as a distinguished member of the Global Future Council on Cryptocurrencies at the World Economic Forum from 2020 to 2021. As a testament to his commitment to technological innovation, he has established the region’s premier hub for blockchain technology and currently holds the position of CEO at the Dubai Blockchain Center.


Teppo Rantanen

Executive Director

Tampereen kaupunki – City of Tampere, Finland

Teppo is Executive Director, City of Tampere, growth, innovation and competitiveness. Responsible for Smart City program and other major city development programs.

Teppo has been with Deloitte 2002-2016, last two years in London as a member of Global Technology, Media and Telecommunications leadership team, before that CEO of Deloitte Finland for 12 years. Before joining Deloitte Teppo was Nordic leader of Andersen Risk Consulting, located in Stockholm and prior to that in Helsinki and London.


Dr Ian Oppermann

Chief Data Scientist NSW Government, Australia

President, National Committee of Australia, IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission)

Chair – Standards Development & Accreditation Committee, Standards Australia

Dr. Ian Oppermann is the NSW Government’s Chief Data Scientist working within the Department of Customer Service. He is also an Industry Professor at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).  He heads the NSW government’s AI Review Committee and Smart Places Advisory Council.

Ian is considered a thought leader in the area of the Digital Economy and is a regular speaker on “Big Data”, broadband enabled services and the impact of technology on society. Ian has an MBA from the University of London and a Doctor of Philosophy in Mobile Telecommunications from Sydney University. Ian is a Fellow of the Institute of Engineers Australia, a Fellow of the IEEE, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, is a Fellow and Immediate Past President of the Australian Computer Society, Fellow of the NSW Royal Society, and a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


Ralf Ma

Chair IEEE Metaverse Standards Working Group

Chair of Membership Development of the IEEE Digital Transformation Association

Ralf Ma is an expert in the field of consumer electronics. He has worked in the field of consumer electronics for more than 20 years and led the development of a variety of products such as set-top boxes, PDAs, mobile phones and smart TVs. These products have sold more than one million units in many countries.

Ralf Ma is currently working as the director of technology on VerseMaker. VerseMaker provides integrated and enabling services for China’s metaverse industry based on the world, and is committed to becoming China’s research and development, education and training, large enterprises, start-up companies and investment institutions. It is a bridge and catalyst to participate in the innovation and cooperation ecology of the global Metaverse. Before joining VerseMaker, Ralf Ma worked as a technical manager and principal engineer at Kudelski Group, OpenTV and IBM.

Ralf Ma also assumes multiple leadership positions in international and domestic organizations, including the Secretary of IEEE Metaverse Standards Committee, the Chair of IEEE Metaverse Standards Working Group, the Chair of Membership Development of the IEEE Digital Transformation Association, the Deputy Secretary of the Blockchain Committee of the Chinese Institute of Communications, etc.


Cristina Bueti


ITU Focus Group on metaverse (FG-MV)

Cristina Bueti is the ITU Focal Point on Environment and Smart Sustainable Cities. She is also the Counsellor of ITU-T Study Group 20 “Internet of things (IoT) and smart cities and communities (SC&C)” at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). She also serves as TSB/ITU focal point for Latin America.

Cristina Bueti graduated from the Faculty of Political Science, Law and International Cooperation and Development of the University of Florence, where she completed postgraduate studies in International Cooperation and Telecommunications Law in Europe. She also holds a specialization in Environmental Law with a special focus on Telecommunications. In 2003, Ms. Bueti built on her academic credentials by completing a specialized course in peace keeping and international cooperation with special focus on telecommunications at the Faculty of Laws, University of Malta, before joining the International Telecommunication Union in Geneva in January 2004.

As part of the International Women’s Day 2016, she was named as one of the twenty Geneva-based inspirational women working to protect the environment. She has authored over 40 reports on telecommunication issues. A native Italian speaker, Cristina is also fluent in English, French and Spanish.

Special Thanks

This work is not possible without the great guidance and support from amazing leaders such as:

A big thanks to you all!

Time: 15:00-17:00 CET time

Date: 30th Oct 2023

Registration can be found here: DT Webinar: How to successfully develop People-Centred CitiVerse?

More information can be found here

Digital Transformation for People-Centered Cities (itu.int)

We look forward to working UN, governments, investors, corporates and institutions to continue this interesting work.

We hope this webinar can help drive ongoing dialogue about the development of the metaverse for city governments, help them to better understand its potential, identify strategic imperatives, and act as a force for public good that can benefit all.


October 30, 2023
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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The Metaverse Institute
International Telecommunication Union