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.
The primary objective of the WUF is to increase awareness of sustainable urbanization among stakeholders and members of small and large communities. As our world grows smaller and smaller with the faster connection capabilities of technology, the Forum strives to improve the collective knowledge of sustainable urban development. Acting as an incubator for ideas and problem-solving sessions, the Forum hosts a wide variety of events including HLPF roundtables, dialogues, assemblies, stakeholders roundtables, special sessions, plenary meetings, urban talks, and a wide variety of side events. The physical venue allows for people who normally would not be in easy contact with each other to hash out ideas and share experiences and challenges within their urban communities.
The most recent Forum, dubbed the WUF9, was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in February 2018. With 23,000 attendants, 19,237 being participants, 164 countries were represented in WUF 9. It was the 2nd largest UN conference and 1st ever legislative technical forum. 75% of the participants were stakeholders, and, incredibly, 40% of them were under the age of 32 years old. In this era of transition to an older global population, it was a huge success to have so many of the millennial generation and younger participating.
The outcomes of WUF9 reflected the “legacy” of successes from Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda (NUA). The conclusion of WUF 9 lead to the adoption of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration, which was based on the main sessions during WUF9 focused on accelerated implementation and monitoring of SDGs. These include: 1) strengthening the roles of subnational and local governments, 2) sharing creative solutions and innovative practices, 3) building inclusive partnerships and strengthening age and gender inclusive environments, 4) adopting integrated territorial development, and 5) deploying monitoring and reporting mechanisms.
WUF9 produced several important actionable recommendations to move towards on the way to WUF10 in 2020. Frameworks of implementation were established to provide inclusive platforms for dialogues between stakeholders. There was great emphasis on the need to engage all levels of governments to ensure shared and accountable responsibility. And, most importantly, WUF9 reaffirmed and refreshed the need for innovative solutions; thinking outside the box in order to effectively implement monitoring and data collection. Indeed, WUF9 was a great a success and it is continuing the momentum forward towards inclusive sustainable development in an urbanizing world.
All data and stats on WUF and WUF9 retrieved from http://wuf9.org/