World Urban Forum

The World Urban Forum (WUF) is a conference for urban issues surrounding rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies. Established in 2001 by the United Nations, the WUF takes place every two years and is organized and convened by the UN-Habitat. The objectives of the WUF are to raise awareness of sustainable urbanization among stakeholders, to improve knowledge on sustainable urban development through discussions that are inclusive, and to increase coordination and cooperation between stakeholders for the advancement and implementation of sustainable urbanization. The most recent World Urban Forum 9 (WUF9) took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2018. It is exciting to see Malaysia as the host of the WUF9, specifically because my project focuses on inclusive education in Malaysia. Although the country has inclusive education embedded in its education policy frameworks, many schools still lack the necessary structures and amenities that allow students with disabilities to move and learn freely. Since Malaysia struggles with improving the infrastructure of schools and their accessibility, their role as hosts shows their commitment to building inclusive cities in the age of rapid globalization.

With the theme of Cities 2030-Cities for All: Implementing the New Urban Agenda, the WUF9 focused on strengthening and scaling up its implementation, learning how to engage within the UN system, and creating cities that are safe, inclusive, and sustainable. Primarily, the WUF9 provided a platform for stakeholders to discuss how they can develop cities that allow all persons to live with equal opportunity to live with dignity. The WUF9 is significant not only due to its large turn-out with approximately 23,000 participants, but because it gave a platform to local leaders through the first Grassroots Assembly. This is critical because it allows more voices to be heard and included within the sustainable development discussions. It also encourages greater cooperation between grassroots organizations and key country stakeholders. At the end of the WUF9, the Kuala Lumpur Declaration called for localizing and scaling up implementation initiatives. Ultimately, the WUF9 concluded with declaring the need to build inclusive partnerships and eliminate age and gender barriers to ensure that all are able to participate and engage meaningfully. Following the WUF9, the World Urban Forum 10 will be held in Abu Dhabi in 2020. After two years, it will be fascinating to see how these stakeholders have further implemented the New Urban Agenda, and to also see the next goals they set for themselves.