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.
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. 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.