World Urban Forum 2014: Recipe for a better urban future

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by Lea Gleixner

25,000 meet in Medellín at UN-Habitat’s biennial conference

It is home to more than half of the world’s population, it is filled with human capacity, central to the big dream of millions, the cradle of new languages, music, art, the hope of many and likely to also be a traffic- and environmental nightmare: the city. Since the early 1970s, a great many of development strategies and programs had focused on rural development. Today both industrialized and developing countries are facing a challenge not quite unrelated, but definitely on the opposite side of the rural sphere – Urbanization.

From the April 5 – 11, around 25,000 experts from different disciplines and over 164 countries are gathered at the World Urban Forum in Medellín under this year’s conference theme “Urban equityin development – Cities for Life”.

Convened by the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), the biennial World Urban Forum (WUF) is the most important conference with regard to the future of our increasingly urbanized world. WUF ties the goals of Rio+20 to the post-2015 agenda and addresses the issue of urban equity and sustainable urban development in all is facets, from climate change to urban planning to gender equality.

What is the recipe for an equitable, inclusive and sustainable modern city?

Do we need better policies, governance, public transport, waste management, human security, environmental management, more social space, social equality, legal frameworks, access to energy, youth empowerment or gender equality? How can we make our cities sustainable, resilient, safe, prosperous and inclusive?

In order to find an answer to these and other questions, WUF brings together representatives of governments, NGOs, grassroots movements, the private sector, research institutions and UN organizations, to name only some. Roundtables, a 9000 m2 exhibition, a number of side events held by participants and a Medellín city lab are only some of the events held, which could easily take a month’s time to attend. The UN-Habitat itself is present with their own pavilion, providing a space to showcase its development programs, as well as for worldwide UN-Habitat partner organizations to share their projects and transferable solutions for inclusive and equal urban development with other participants.

The 200 per cent growth of the number of participants since the last conference is not only a sign of increased attention to the topic but also for the huge potential for the sharing of expert knowledge and best practice.

Medellín a shining example

It is no sheer coincidence that WUF is taking place in Medellín this year. Still associated by many with drug cartels, violence and insecurity, Medellín has undergone a tremendous change in the past two decades and was voted Innovative City of the Year 2013 by the Urban Land Institute. Medellín’s progress was marked by the construction of an accessible and inclusive public transport system, public libraries, parks and schools to name only a few. The innovative, creative and inclusive way in which the public and private sector cooperated with civil-society and universities is a shining example of the possible achievements in sustainable development for cities worldwide.

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Since networking and the sharing of knowledge offers the prime potential of this conference, WUF has placed itself well in social media. You want to participate in discussions, stay updated and hear what others are saying? Like and share!

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Twitter:            @worldurbanforum


Instagram:       @worldurbanforum

Hashtags:         #wuf7 #ourwuf #urbanequity

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