This blog post discusses the World Urban Forum.
The World Urban Forum (WUF) is the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN Habitat) conference on urban issues. The WUF was created in 2001 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.” In this, the WUF is very similar to the Habitat Conferences (1,2,3) but WUF occurs every 2 years, while Habitat occurs every 20 years and began much earlier than the first WUF in 2002. The main difference between the two is that the Habitat Summits are much higher level, and Habitat leads to an outcome document that serves as a framework/agenda. WUF is in a sense more oriented towards multi-stakeholder participation and is more related to practice due to its status as a non-legislative technical forum. WUF has the following three objectives: raise awareness of sustainable urbanization, improve the collective knowledge of sustainable urban development, increase coordination and cooperation between different stakeholders and constituencies for the advancement and implementation of sustainable urbanization. With the increasing amount of the world’s population living in urban environments, this conference tackles issues that increasingly relate to more people.
WUF 9 was the 9th conference of the World Urban Forum, and it occured in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in February of 2018. WUF 9 was the second WUF conference to be held in Asia, where more than half of the world’s urban population is located. In addition, this was the first WUF conference to be held after the establishment of the Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030. The conference itself garnered over 23,000 attendees, almost triple the amount of WUF 6 and making it the second largest UN conference ever. As 75% of WUF 9’s 19,000 participants were stakeholders, it was truly an example for civil society participation in international development. The theme of WUF 9 was chosen to be “Cities for All: Implementing the New Urban Agenda” because it was also the first WUF conference after Habitat III and it was meant to serve as a forum for localizing and scaling up implementation of the NUA. This implementation was SDG aligned by using sustainable urban development for social inclusion and ending poverty, prosperity and opportunity for all, and environmental sustainability. That WUF 9 was inclusive and emphasized participation is reflected in the outcome recommendations: strengthening inclusive multi-level government-stakeholder partnerships, encouraging of innovative solution sharing, establishing universal design and accessibility as a core principle, and creating transparent data recording and reporting mechanisms.