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.
The World Urban Forum was established in 2001 by the UN to address this rapid urbanization. Claiming to be the “premier international gathering on urban issues,” the World Urban Forum (WUF) includes participation by diverse groups of people and includes spaces for people of different backgrounds to participate. WUF aims to increase awareness about sustainable urbanization, improve knowledge through the use of inclusive debates, and coordinate between stakeholders for the implementation of this sustainable urbanization. These are lofty goals, but through their actionable plans, WUF’s goals are indeed attainable.
The World Urban Forum is hosted in a different city every two years. In February 2018, Kuala Lampur, Malaysia hosted the ninth World Urban Forum. As Asia has a huge percentage of the world’s increasing urban centers, Kuala Lampur was considered a key city for the forum.
The theme for WUF9 focused on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda (NUA). NUA was the primary outcome of the Habitat III conference in Quito in 2016. NUA is exciting because it sees cities not as a contributor to climate change but a key way to implement sustainable development goals (WUF9). WUF9 viewed NUA as a tool for achieving both Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
In addition to announcing support of the NUA, in an effort to achieve “cities for all” – cities that are made for everyone, without discrimination of any kind –, WUF9 implemented the Kuala Lampur Declaration. This Declaration recognizes the challenges faced by urban settlements, it provides actionable recommendations, and reiterates the value of its inclusive platform (WUF9). WUF10 will take place in Abu Dhabi in 2020, and it will continue to strengthen the global commitment to inclusive, sustainable cities.