This week in class we continued our discussion on inclusive and smart cities, with a focus on the World Urban Forum (WUF) and how it relates to inclusive development. The WUF is a global conference on urban issues established in 2001 by UN-Habitat specifically to address rapid urbanization and its far reached impacts. The Forum made a specific effort to be inclusive, gathering participation from diverse groups of people with diverse backgrounds, in order to increase awareness about sustainable urbanization, coordinate between groups, and create ideas to change the world of urbanization. The WUF meets every 2 years, most recently held in February 2018 in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia and boasted 23,000 participants, making it the second largest gathering in history.
One question that I had regarding many diplomatic events with high attendance, is whether having a large turn out for an event creates a more or less productive atmosphere? I believe this is something that must be very challenging in many UN meetings and Forums, the balance between being small enough to have compelling and influential discussions, but large enough to create an engaged and powerful dialogue. However, despite the specifics, the thought of having hundreds of people in one space, discussing one issue is powerful. Having 23,000 participants for WUF9 illustrated the popularity and the amount of support that the WUF gained over the decades.
Having popularity was very important to the mission as it showed how many governments, interests and stakeholders were interested in the message WUF was working to spread about sustainable urban development and urban issues. The were able to raise awareness of sustainable urbanization among stakeholders and constituencies and plan goals for future meetings. The message that everyone should have equal access to cities resonated across groups and solidified the Kuala-Lumpur Declaration on Cities 2030, ensuring cities and quality of life for all. Additionally, one of the main outcomes of the WUF9 was focused on creating a multidisciplinary conversation with both SDGs and the NUA, which we discussed in class last week. The NUA, being the primary outcome of Habitat III in 2016, was analyzed and discussed at WUF9. The participants viewed NUA as a tool for achieving both Agenda 2030 and the SDGs.
The WUF is very impactful to my research as the WUF’s main goal is to raise awareness. In conducting my early research, I have had a difficult time finding specific, tangible examples of how awareness raising can lead to tangible change. However, the WUF and NUA depicts an example of how