World Urban Forum

The World Urban Forum (WUF) was established by the UN in 2001 to examine rapid urbanization and its impacts on cities, economies, climate change, and policies. This premier conference on urban issues is held every two years for participants to share practices and knowledge on how cities are built, planned, and managed. The objectives of the World Urban Forum include increasing awareness of sustainable urbanization, improving collective knowledge of inclusive sustainable urban development, and increasing coordination and cooperation to advance and implement sustainable urbanization. Continue reading

Inclusive Smart Cities

The Asian Development Bank defined making a city more “inclusive” as: “ensuring the poor and vulnerable have access to the services they need to better their quality of life.” With the onset of rapid urbanization and growing inequality, cities and governments have taken notice and decided to make infrastructural changes that will help improve quality of life for all. The ADB lists its key elements of creating this inclusive city: urban environmental infrastructure development, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and poverty reduction measures. While these are all broad, their goals reflect those of cities around the world. Continue reading

World Urban Forum (WUF9)

The World Urban Forum is a global conference that is dedicated to addressing urban issues. This was a forum that was founded by the United Nations under the UN Habitat and is set to host its 10th session in 2020 in Abu Dhabi. The objectives of the World Urban Forum (WUF) as noted by the UN are to:


  • Raise awareness of sustainable urbanization among stakeholders and constituencies, including the general public.
  • Improve the collective knowledge of sustainable urban development through inclusive open debates, sharing of lessons learned and the exchange of best practices and good policies.
  • Increase coordination and cooperation between different stakeholders and constituencies for the advancement and implementation of sustainable urbanization.[1]


One of the major contributions that WUF9 has made is the creation of the Kuala-Lumpur Declaration on Cities 2030. The Kuala-Lumpur Declaration is a comprehensive document that contains thorough recommendations on how to ensure that moving forward, “Cities are for all ensuring that all inhabitants, of present and future generations, without discrimination of any kind, are able to inhabit and produce just, safe, healthy, accessible, affordable, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements to foster prosperity and quality of life for all.[2] Many different actors created the Kuala Lumpur document, ranging from national governments, to private sector, to local communities. This was done purposefully because only through collaboration will the building of inclusive cities be possible.


One entity that stuck out to me in the WUF was the inclusion of local governments. Many of the United Nation’s forums are filled with high-ranking officials and while that often is a great way to effect change at a high level, inclusive cities need a more refined approach. The session at the WUF9 that included mayors of cities was an important way for local officials to share ideas and challenges with each other. Implementing sustainable inclusive cities is an area in which local governments can really thrive. Mayors and local city counsels live and work in the same cities that they are trying to improve. The inclusion of a multitude of actors is part of what makes the WUF and the Kuala Lumpur Declaration different and more effective.


[1] UN Habitat for a Better Urban Future. “World Urban Forum.” 2012. Retrieved at

[2] UN Habitat for a Better Urban Future. “Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Cities 2030.” WUF9. February 2018. Retrieved at

WUF and inclusive, sustainable cities

More than half of the world’s population is living in urban centers. By 2050, this figure is expected to go up to 66%. The majority of this growth will take place in Asia and Africa, especially India, China, and Nigeria. Cities are growing bigger and bigger, but as they do so, they become more of a burden to the environment. In order to support growing populations as well as support the diverse populations already residing in cities, governments must make efforts to make cities inclusive, sustainable, and ready to support the influx of people coming their way. Continue reading

WUF9: A Success for Now and Later

Established in 2001 by the United Nations (UN), the World Urban Forum (WUF) is the global conference on urban issues. Convening every two years, the WUF brings together thousands of high-level political leaders (HPLF), urban development researches and professionals, expertise, activists, stakeholders, and members of the Major Groups to take on the major challenges of the world’s increasing urban population. These challenges cover a vast array of areas from communities, cities, economies, climate change, and politics.

Continue reading

The World Urban Forum

The World Urban Forum (WUF), established by the UN General Assembly in 2001 as a bi-annual event, examines pressing issues facing the world today regarding human settlements and the impact that rapid urbanization has on cities, communities, economics, and climate change.  According to the UNDP, by 2050 more than two-thirds of the world’s population is projected to be living in urban areas. Building sustainable and inclusive cities is one of the world’s most pertinent issues. Continue reading

Sustainable Cities as Solutions: The New Urban Agenda

Sustainable cities are the present and future powerhouses of inclusive development. A city cannot be considered sustainable without being inclusive and providing “equal rights and access to the benefits and opportunities that cities can offer” (New Urban Agenda iv). If a city does not include all of its population in its development, it is both ignoring fundamental human rights and missing out on the special talents that each person has to offer. In addition,When cities focus on sustainable urbanization, the population’s quality of life and employment opportunities increase (New Urban Agenda iv). The United Nation’s New Urban Agenda presents a set of standards for urban development. The agenda’s pillars include topics such as urban design, legislation policy, and local implementation strategies (New Urban Agenda iv).

The New Urban Agenda states that inclusive cities promote “a sense of belonging and ownership among all their inhabitants,” and “leave no one behind” (New Urban Agenda articles 13-14). Inclusive cities promote racial, gender, and economic equality (New Urban Agenda article 13). Inclusive cities reduce vulnerability to environmental disasters, minimize their environmental impact, and promote sustainable consumption and production patterns (New Urban Agenda article 13). The agenda provides necessary vision for an inclusively sustainable future, and one in which each country can strive towards within the framework of their current systems.

An important part of the New Urban Agenda is the “call to action.” The call to action states that “While the specific circumstances of cities of all sizes, towns and villages vary, we affirm that the New Urban Agenda is universal in scope,” recognizing that each area has its own unique strengths and challenges (New Urban agenda article 16). The agenda’s “implementation plan” provides a more specific call to action, with specific examples of steps that actors at the local level, national level, and private sector can take. Cities have the power to connect issues of sustainability, inclusivity, equality, and development. It is vital that people at each level of society recognize the powerful potential of sustainable cities, and take the necessary actions towards them. The New Urban Agenda’s creation is a valuable step forward towards the achievement of sustainable cities, with an organized vision and action plan for both present and future generations.

Habitat III

One of the concepts that we discussed in the first meeting of our class was what being disabled really means. One of the concepts that was raised was that a person is only disabled once they can not do something because of their position. This means that if the world adapts itself to become more adaptive to “disabilities”, citizens across the world aren’t restricted. The idea of smart, inclusive cities is the starting marker that would allow for a wider variety of citizens to be included in society. By avoiding marginalization of any demographic of people, cities can grow and promote safe, interactive, sustainable and rich urban spaces for all residents. While all smart cities should be inclusive cities, not al inclusive cities are necessarily smart cities. Smart cities focus on using analytics and sensors to create efficiency and predict was the society needs, and often factor inclusivity into decisions that are made. However, inclusive cities do not need to be super technologically advanced to avoid discrimination. I believe this is a fact that is not often addressed with clarity, often thinking the two terms are synonymous. However, the main component that is shared between the two concepts revolves around future planning to create cities that will grow and change as the population grows and changes.

To address creating cities that would fit these dimensions, the New Urban Agenda: Habitat III conference was held in October 2016 in Quito. The NUA creates a 20-year roadmap for achieving the goal of making cities and settlements more inclusive, resilient, safe, and sustainable and echoes Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities. One large change between the Habitat III document and other the previous NUAs was the emphasis of pre-planning to prevent slumming from occurring. In previous NUAs, there was a large focus on the importance of “de-slumming”, and fixing the horrible living conditions by vacating residence, tearing down the slums and rebuilding – a timely and expensive initiative. In habitat III, there was a large emphasis placed on creating living spaces that would prevent slumming to begin with, a much more economical and logistically simpler concept. As the world’s population is rapidly urbanizing, with more than half of the world’s population now living in an urban setting, pre-planning is more influential than ever.

Specific preplanning is being focused around PWD. The NUA clarifies specific actions that ensure PWDs are included in the urban development. By designing a universally accessible building, urban spaces can improve their ability to accommodate to all members of the city. However, one thing that I wish was addressed more in the class were the environmental ramifications of smart and inclusive cities. Obviously, having inclusivity is a must, but the question arises as what is necessary for inclusive cities and what is creating more waste. The NUA emphasizes the importance of sustainability in the framework, however, all new development comes with an environmental cost. At the moment, cities consume more resources and produce more waste than any other areas of the world. (Environmental effect of cities: While it is impossible to deny that urbanization is continuing to occur at a rapid rate, we must think not only what is best for the citizens living in the cities, but the total ramification of urbanization and how to minimize the negative effects on the Earth.

The NUA has created a new, international dialogue. One that emphasizes, not only the importance of planned urbanization but also one that declares the “Right to Cities” and the need for planning for all citizens.