The World Urban Forum (WUF) is a conference born out of the United Nations that addressed urban issues surrounding urbanization and its impact on economies, climate change, and cities. The most recent WUF conference, WUF9 took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and was themed Cities 2030 – Cities for All: Implementing the New Urban Agenda. WUF9 focused on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda’s goals and commitments regarding creating cities that are inclusive and sustainable. The upcoming World Urban Forum, WUF10 will be taking place in February 2020 in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The theme for WUF10 is Cities of Opportunities – Connecting Culture and Innovation which reads to me like a convergence of culture, technological and social innovation, working in tandem with fostering local-focused global entrepreneurship.
A marker for success for WUF10 would be addressing how to foster locally-focused with global perspective entrepreneurship to drive social change and innovation for sustainable development. According to the Harvard Business Review, the entrepreneurial ecosystem is a core component of economic development in cities and countries. The top three challenges that prevent entrepreneurship from flourishing however are access to talent, excessive bureaucracy, and scarce early-stage capital. I believe it would not only be to the World Urban Forum’s benefit but also for the all stakeholders attending WUF10 to address entrepreneurship in cities as a driver for sustainable developing and making their respective economies more productive and inclusive.
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.
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.
Our class had the opportunity to further delve into inclusive, sustainable cities as we learned about the World Urban Forum, or WUF. The WUF is convened by UN Habitat and is a world conference on cities in a non-legislative forum. The last one, WUF9, was held in Kuala Lumpur in February 2018. WUF10 will be held in Abu Dhabi in 2020. This forum is crucial because it meets more frequently — every two years — versus Habitat where UNGA and all the participants involved with that meet every twenty years. Habitat III helped set the stage for the New Urban Agenda (NUA), where it has a series of long-term visions, commitments, and implementations countries will use to further develop of smart cities and ensure everyone has a right to the city. WUF acts as a checkpoint to see the progress of whatever happens at Habitat, and in this case, it is the NUA from Habitat III. Continue reading →
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.