The World Urban Forum is a global platform for discussing urban challenges. The United Nations established the Forum to “examine one of the most pressing issues facing the world today: rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies.” WUF’s goals include raising awareness for sustainable urban development in both the public and private spheres, increasing knowledge on sustainable urbanization, and improving coordination among global actors. With high participation rates and a focus on inclusivity, WUF is the world’s best platform for global environmental discussion.
The most recent WUF forum was held in February 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The forum included 250 speakers, 25,000 participants, and over 500 events. The sessions include high level roundtables, dialogues, networking events, assemblies, and training events. High level roundtables are the most prestigious events, as they feature high profile decision makers. WUF 9’s high level roundtables included discussions about the urban impact on climate change, innovative governance in inclusive cities, and peace and security in sustainable urbanization. Dialogues include debate on policy recommendations regarding the New Urban Agenda. WUF 9’s dialogues included urban conflict and crisis, creating resilient cities, and legislative frameworks. Assemblies provide a platform for various stakeholder groups, allowing each of them to have a voice in the discussion on sustainable urban development. WUF 9’s assemblies provided a special voice for youth, women, businesses, and grassroots organizations. Training events are a different way to approach the advancement of sustainable development, as they build knowledge and develop skills for both participants and international audiences. Training events at WUF 9 included women’s safety in cities, homelessness in cities, and rebuilding cities after natural disasters.
The next WUF (the tenth forum) will be held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in 2020. In the next forum, I hope to see more discussions and trainings about sustainable natural resource use. While WUF 9 covered a wide range of topics necessary to developing inclusively sustainable cities, there were not too many sessions about natural resource conservation. As cities hold the largest concentrations of populations in the world, it is important these populations not only use natural resources sustainably, but also have access to resources for generations to come. Promoting sustainable resource use is one of the most important ways we can support a future of environmental inclusion for all, so that every person will always have equal access to the resources they need to survive each and every day.