The World Urban Forum is of particular interest to me because of my work with the DIAUD Network through IDPP. The WUF concept is so interesting to me because of its commitment to inclusivity and emphasis on stakeholder involvement which is where DIAUD comes into play. DIAUD is a network of stakeholders dedicated to both disability policy and policy concerning sustainable cities. They are established in partnership with UNDESA and IDPP and played a major role in both NUA and WUF9, advocating for language in the document and hosting their own side event.
WUF 9 was the first WUF to be held after the adoption of the New Urban Agenda in 2016. As such, it’s main focus was really on expanding the principles of the NUA to embody the notion of “cities for all.” DIAUD played a role in these proceedings, hosting their own side event about local initiatives for universal accessibility, and participating in the forum more broadly. WU9 was used as an organizing catalyst for members of the network and in my work with DIAUD, I hope to use WUF10 in a similar fashion to mobilize future discussions.
Specific to DIAUD and other networks and organizations of its kind, I feel WUF10 is going to be a major strategic point. The NUA is in effect for the next decades and Habitat IV is to come in 2036. Thus, monitoring and discussing the progress on NUA is going to be a major focus for advocacy groups. Networks like DIAUD spent months preparing language, policy approaches, educational events, etc. to have their conception of what inclusive, sustainable development should look like included in the NUA. However, I cannot help but wonder how oversights and new information will lead to new policies and approaches. Thinking about this in the context of my earlier discussion of the Special Olympics mandate, as we spread more awareness about persons with intellectual disabilities, how might approaches to bus map postings, accessibility tools for buildings, and even risk management and reduction change as a result of what we will come to know? The NUA and WUF9 really built upon intersectionality in their proceedings, taking a special look at women, youth, and the dynamics of migration. It will be interesting to see how changing understandings and the continued application of the NUA will impact future WUFs and the eventual Habitat IV conference to come. I think the idea that policies are not stagnant is essential for understanding the inevitable journey NUA will take as a result of these advocacy groups and networks and something to look towards for the future. I think this evolution is vital to ensuring that we continue to rethink what it means to be “inclusive”, forcing policy makes to capitalize on strengths and address policy weaknesses to ensure a better quality of life for all.