In just over 2 months, the 10th World Urban Forum will convene in Abu Dhabi for several days with over 20,000 delegates and 150 countries expected to attend. The United Nations established the biennial World Urban Forum (WUF) to discuss major issues related to rapid urbanization and sustainable urban development. The goal of WUF is to advocate for, raise awareness of, and further collective knowledge on sustainable urban development. Additionally, WUF functions as a follow-up mechanism for tracking the advancement and implementation of the frameworks developed at the Habitat conferences. So far, there have been three Habitat conferences occurring every 20 years with the last conference, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, better known as Habitat III, taking place in 2016 in Quito, Ecuador. The primary goal of Habitat III was to form a blueprint to guide the next 20 years of urban development. This goal was achieved through the creation of the New Urban Agenda (NUA).
However, since the next Habitat conference will not take place again until 2036, WUF is where states and interested stakeholders can meet to discuss the progress made in following NUA, new ideas and technologies related to sustainable urban development, and the challenges to urban development in today’s ever-changing world. In 2018, the first WUF since Habitat III, the creation of NUA, and the development of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This fact was reflected in the theme for WUF9: Cities 2030, Cities for All. This theme emphasized not only the need for preparing and advancing cities for the future, but also the importance of inclusion in cities.
Looking forward to WUF10, this will be the first WUF to be held in the Middle East, a region dealing with the worsening impacts of climate change and rapid urbanization. The theme of WUF10 is Cities of Opportunity – Connecting Culture and Innovation. This forum will focus on tackling the complex issues of rapid urbanization with consideration culture and demographics. I think this is a very interesting topic, especially since the conference is being held in Abu Dhabi, a rapidly expanding city that is heavily influenced by the diverse population living there. It will be interesting to see the various side events, roundtables, and other events that take place during WUF10 and the progress that has been made in advancing NUA and the SDGs.