The eleventh session of the World Urban Forum (WUF11) emphasized that rapid action is needed for cities to recover from multiple crises and embark on a rapid transition towards sustainable urban development. To address these needs, WUF11 participants declared their “voluntary actions and commitments for the next two years and beyond”, including a shift from incrementalism to fundamental changes in urban environments, governance systems and forms of housing, in accordance with human rights. treated.
Organized by the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), together with the Polish government and the host city, FUM11 gathered in a hybrid format in Katowice, Poland, from June 26 to 30, 2022, under the theme‘Transforming our cities for a better urban future.’
The discussions were guided by the following thematic objectives: equitable urban futures; building resilience for a sustainable urban future; future urban economy and finance; integrated governance in land use planning for a fairer, greener and healthier urban future; transforming cities through innovative solutions and technologies; and a greener urban future.
The global race for the SDGs will be decided in cities
Like previous sessions of the Forum, WUF11 aimed to raise awareness among stakeholders and constituencies about sustainable urbanization, improve collective knowledge of sustainable urban development through inclusive and open debate, and increase coordination and cooperation on promoting sustainable urbanization. However, unlike before, WUF11 convened against the backdrop of the “triple C crises” of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate disasters and emerging conflicts, compounded by the planetary triple crises of biodiversity loss, climate change and pollution, which push already marginalized urban populations further into poverty and present serious obstacles to sustainable urban development.
As the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) summary report meeting notes, participants agreed that “the world’s race to the bottom [SDGs] will be decided in the cities, and it will soon be decided. The challenges of providing affordable, inclusive, sustainable and resilient housing, the need to improve stakeholder engagement in urban planning and co-create sustainable and resilient cities, and the role of smart technologies and other tools in preparing cities for future crises while empowering people first emerged as some of the central themes.
All on deck to achieve the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda
Prior to the official opening of the Forum, assemblies of major stakeholder groups met. These included grassroots organisations, children and young people, women, businesses and local and regional governments. As a member of WUF11 official programseven dialogues took place on:
- Urban Crisis Response and Recovery;
- Equitable Urban Futures;
- Building resilience for a sustainable urban future;
- Future urban economy and finance;
- Integrated governance in land use planning for a fairer, greener and healthier urban future;
- A greener urban future; and
- Transforming cities through innovative solutions and technologies.
A series of roundtables brought together local and regional governments, business and industry, parliamentarians, ministers, older people, people with disabilities, women, academics, professionals, philanthropists, young people, trade unions , civil society and the UN to share their views on the future of sustainable urban development.
Special sessions were held to address issues ranging from urban recovery frameworks, urban data and the circular economy to addressing urban housing and health issues, and localizing the SDGs. National urban forums as tools for implementing the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and ways to rebuild communities and neighborhoods after war and natural disasters were also discussed, with the war in Ukraine occupying center stage in many conversations.
According to IN B In summary, WUF11 was also “praised for its efforts in accessibility, with full interpretation in international sign language and Polish, and many improvements for the visually impaired and physically disabled”.
Declared actions to transform our cities for a better urban future
At the WUF11 closing ceremony, UN-Habitat Assembly President Martha Delgado presented the WUF11 declared actions, which build on the five days of discussions and debates among various stakeholders. on the most pressing challenges facing cities today.
In the ‘Katowice Declared Actions: Transforming our cities for a better urban future‘, Forum participants declare their ‘voluntary actions and commitments for the next two years and beyond’, including:
- Moving from incrementalism to fundamental changes in urban environments, governance systems and forms of housing, in line with human rights treaties;
- Focus on impending urban crises such as climate and biodiversity emergencies, pandemics, violence and conflict, and other natural and man-made disasters, all of which converge in surrounding cities and territories;
- Reconfirm culture as an essential component of local identity;
- Reconfirm that accessibility and universal design are an integral part of the solution to the challenges of urbanization; and
- Encourage all development actors to mobilize their capacities within the framework of the United Nations Decade of Action and call on governments to better fund UN-Habitat.
The outcome document also includes an annex listing 26 countries, territories and areas affected by conflict and disaster. These are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Fiji, Haiti, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), Lebanon, Libya, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Yemen , Palestine and Kosovo.
Stakeholders are encouraged to submit additional Declared Actions until July 31, 2022 via the Urban Agenda Platform.
“Only 2,743 days left”
“We have only 2,743 days left to implement the New Urban Agenda and achieve the SDGs,” UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif said during the closing ceremony. This sense of urgency was palpable throughout the meeting, as was the recognition that, given the current trajectory, the world is not on track to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 2030.
As the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLFP) explores ways to build back better while advancing the full implementation of Agenda 2020 – a theme agreed before some major shifts in the global geopolitical landscape – the cities remain at the forefront of multiple converging crises.
June 27 draft fourth revision of the HLPF Ministerial Declaration, which spans 30 pages and 136 paragraphs, includes only one paragraph on cities where ministers “reaffirm that by re-addressing the way cities and human settlements are planned, designed , funded, developed, governed and managed, the New Urban Agenda will continue to contribute to the implementation of the SDGs. Whether or not the outcome document has more to say about sustainable urbanization, urban development would likely require a great deal of “rethinking” to meaningfully address “triple C crises” and achieve “fundamental shifts” in urban governance needed to achieve the 2030 target. deadline for SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and other goals.