The World Urban Forum, established by the United Nations in 2001 and convened by UN-Habitat, takes place every two years to examine rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, economies, climate change, and policies. People around the world are increasingly moving from rural to urban communities to take advantage of job opportunities, services, infrastructure, and more. This movement has facilitated a variety of issues that need to be addressed through sustainable practices and technologies in order to allow future generations to grow and prosper in a way that doesn’t damage the earth. The outcomes of these forums must be upheld and implemented through policies, regulations, and social awareness.
The ninth session of the World Urban Forum (WUF9) was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2018. The theme of this forum was Cities 2030, placing an emphasis on implementing the New Urban Agenda (NUA) adopted at Habitat III as a means to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to the WUF9 declaration, the participants concluded that these goals should be supported via increasing the role of subnational and local governments, encouraging the sharing of creative solutions, building inclusive partnerships, adopting integrated territorial development, and developing monitoring and reporting mechanisms. More specifically, they focused on emerging challenges that require urgent action such as responding to environmental degradation and climate change concerns.
As populations continue to urbanize around the globe and cities are growing at faster rates, one of the key issues that cities will face is waste management. Living in a developed country that gives little regard to sustainable production and consumption practices, we must tackle this issue before it becomes a health crisis. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the United States generates more than 258 million tons of municipal solid waste each year. Sadly, a very small percentage of this gets recycled and the rest is hauled to a landfill. According to a 2018 report by the Solid Waste Environmental Excellence Protocol (SWEEP), the 2,000 active landfills in the United States are filling up. Not only do landfills prohibit the natural breakdown of some waste due to a lack of oxygen, but they also leak leachate, a combination of water and disposed of liquid waste, which presents a major threat to the quality of groundwater. As cities become bigger and more compact, landfills will begin to cause increasingly dangerous living conditions. In order to reduce our waste generation, we must invest in recycling and composting programs that will prevent a potential health crisis. At the tenth session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10) in 2020, these programs must be a part of the sustainable infrastructure and public works discussion to be implemented in cities around the world.