The World Urban Forum was established in 2001 by the United Nations to create a dialogue of the ever-changing issues associated with urban life and development. The conference, which is organized by UN-Habitat is held every other year in a select city. The main goals of the World Urban Forum are as follows:
- Raise awareness of sustainable urbanization among stakeholders and constituencies, including the general public;
- Improve the collective knowledge of sustainable urban development through inclusive open debates, sharing of lessons learned and the exchange of best practices and good policies; and
- Increase coordination and cooperation between different stakeholders and constituencies for the advancement and implementation of sustainable urbanization.
The 9th, and most recent session of the World Urban Forum (WUF9) was held in Kuala Lumpur in 2018. The theme of WUF9 was Cities 2030, Cities for All: Implementing the New Urban Agenda. The outcome of WUF9 was the Kuala Lumpur Declaration, which outlines the actionable steps that can be taken to further implement the New Urban Agenda. These steps include the following:
- Strengthening the role of governments to ensure continuous dialogue among different levels of government and increase participation of all actors.
- Encouraging sharing of creative solutions and innovative practices.
- Building inclusive partnerships and strengthening age and gender responsive environments.
- Adopting integrated territorial development to ensure sustainable management and use of natural resources and land.
- Deploying monitoring and reporting mechanisms that encourage best practices for effective policy making.
The 10th session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10) will be held in early 2020 in Abu Dhabi. The theme of WUF10 is Cities of Opportunities: Connecting Creativity and Innovation. This theme is meant to tackle the complexities of urban innovation. It will look at the crossroad between culture and innovative technology and how they can be used in harmony to create sustainable and inclusive cities.
There are 6 dialogues to WUF10, which include the following:
Dialogue 1: Urbanization, Culture & Innovation
Dialogue 2: Driving Sustainable Urbanization through Innovation & Culture
Dialogue 3: Tradition and Modernity: A Creative Convergence for Better Cities
Dialogue 4: Frontier Technologies and Sustainable Cities
Dialogue 5: Urban Planning & Heritage Preservation/ Regeneration
Dialogue 6: Partnerships & Initiatives Supporting Culture & Innovation in Cities
These 6 dialogues are essentially the sub-themes of WUF10 and together they help create concrete outputs for the conference.
Overall, the conversation and work conducted at the World Urban Forum help make leading actors aware of the prominent issues and solutions around the world. Though, many countries share the same problems, not all solutions work in every city due to cultural or economic differences. Furthermore, a concern I have is how the ideas that are formulated at the World Urban Forums translate to actual progress and how the impact it has is monitored by the UN or the global community.