Leadership of the World Urban Campaign renewed at WUF10 Abu Dhabi

Leadership of the World Urban Campaign renewed at WUF10 Abu Dhabi

The 10th session of the World Urban Forum held from 8 to 13 February 2020, has been an important moment for the urban thinkers and the World Urban Campaign (WUC) partners. Held in Abu Dhabi, the Forum brought together stakeholders geared to action on the theme ‘Cities of Opportunities: Connecting Culture and Innovation’.

The 22th WUC Steering Committee Meeting was one of those parallel events, taking place on 12 February, bringing together 50 representatives of partner organizations. This gathering of the Steering Committee was of particular importance, since elections took place for the Steering Committee Chairs. Following two years under the leadership of Rose Molokoane from Slum Dwellers International (SDI) and Sandeep Chachra from Action Aid India, three new Co-Chairs have embarked on a two-year journey. Bert Smolders from Arcadis NV, Sri Husnaini Sofjan from the Huairou Commission were elected as new Chairs and Sandeep Chachra, reelected as Chair as a representative of Action Aid India.

As a founder of the WUC, Bert Smolders’ new leadership is grounded in experience and will help bring the campaign to a new level. ‘We need an action oriented and result-based global campaign’ he said, emphasizing the need to build on the new strategic plan of UN-Habitat. Based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, his company Arcadis NV has been continuously engaged in the World Urban Campaign since its first launch in 2010 at WUF5, Rio de Janeiro. Arcadis is a private sector company delivering urban infrastructures worldwide. With over 30 years’ experience nationally and internationally, Bert is highly skilled on urban governance, planning and design, as well as program management. His focus is on the relationship between urban development and resilient development, sustainable infrastructure solutions, climate change, flood protection, and disaster prevention and recovery. Arcadis supports UN-Habitat through the joint Shelter Programme meant to provide pro-bono expertise to field projects around the world.

Sri Husnaini Sofjan is also a founder of the WUC and brings to the campaign about 30 years of experience and expertise on sustainable urbanization, gender issues and work with communities. She is Senior Program Advisor at the Huairou Commission, a global coalition of women’s networks that empowers grassroots women. The coalition supports them with resources and tools to expand their leadership capacity, as well as platforms to share their voices, strategies, and successes with other grassroots women around the world. Sri also plays the role of a strategist in AGGI, the UN-Habitat Advisory Group on Gender Issues. In the past, she served as the first chief executive officer of the Penang Women’s Development Corporation, a state-funded women’s organization.  Sri has also been Programme Manager for the United Nations Development Fund for Women and worked as regional programme manager for The Urban Governance Initiative (TUGI), a UNDP project in Asia and the Pacific. Her leadership in the WUC will be grounded in communities and a deep understanding of the many challenges hampering cities, especially in the global south.

Sandeep Chachra has been reelected by the WUC Steering Committee in order to ensure some continuity within the WUC. He has been the Executive Director of ActionAid India for numerous years and has worked in several capacities in ActionAid International and other development organizations for the last two decades. He is a social anthropologist by training, and a development activist in India. Sandeep has written several publications and has developed resource-packs for activists. Sandeep is an active part of a collective in developing the Global Economic Literacy and Budget Accountability platform, and the South-South Peoples Solidarity Forum. He has been involved with the work of peasant movements in Asia and Africa and has been a keen supporter of developing social movement platforms. He is also currently working on developing the South Asia processes for the World Forum of Alternatives.

The election of the three new Chairs demonstrates the need for transformative action bringing together the knowledge and expertise of communities, the private sector, urban professionals and researchers, policy and decision-makers to deliver concrete results.  A new push to action is vital and most needed for the Campaign partners in order to deliver the New Urban Agenda on the ground.


Article by Christine Auclair, UN-Habitat