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WUC at the World Urban Forum (WUF11, Katowice)

The World Urban Forum 11 recently took place in Katowice, Poland, and the World Urban Campaign partners participated in multiple events throughout the days of 26-30 June. Under the theme "Transforming our cities for a better urban future", WUC partners had a lot to contribute to the Forum with their slogan: 'The City We need Now!', calling to urgent and transformative action in cities and communities to address the triple crisis of climate change, pandemic and inequalities.

The World Urban Campaign partners shared their experience in a Special Session on 28 June on the theme: The City We Need Now! the action oriented WUC manifesto to accelerate the achievement to the SDGs to 2030. The event gathered some 20 speakers and thought leaders in two key conversations: The City We Need for All and The Resilient City We Need, providing their perspectives and priority action areas, solutions and game changers meant to accelerate the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the SDGs. The urban narrarive of the World Urbn Campaign manifesto is based on the results of Urban Thinkers Campus and the agreed 10 Action Areas of The City We Need Now and its 60 priority actions. Interpretation in five languages was provided for the special session in order to make it accessible to all WUF11 participants.

The Special Session was opened by Bert Smolders, Immediate past Chair and re-elected co-Chair Sri Husnaini Sofjan who called to action in the ten areas of The City We Need Now! and recalled the process of crafting the manifesto through a participatory process engaging all parties. Christine Auclair from UN-Habitat moderated the two conversations.

The first segment on The City We Need for All was initiated by Thomas George, Urban Lead at Unicef and Jane Katz from Global Urban Development who both stressed the social and political role of youth and their inclusion in public policy decision-making. Jane Anyango from Polycom Development and Limota Goroso from the Huairou Commission highlighted solutions to empower and increase the participation of women and girls in The City We Need through inclusive approaches at all levels, starting with the grass roots. Christian Hubel from the City of Mannheim, Claus-Peter Echter from ICOMOS, and Lance Jay Brown, president of the Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization, focused on the importance of networking, international projects, and decentralised cooperation.

The second conversation on The Resilient City We Need focused on processes that have the potential to turn cities into self-healing spaces. Tanya Huizer from Arcadis, Eric Huybrecht from Institut Paris Region, and Didier Vancutsem from IFLA Europe as well as Chris Elisara from First+Main Films underscored the role of communities as the basic unit of resilience in the face of disasters and agreed that urban spaces have the potential to be regenerative through learning.

The WUC Partners also gathered for their Steering Committee and Assembly session on 28 June. The event was an opportunity to introduce the new Chairs and Partner Constituent Group (PCG) Chairs of the Steering Committee, elected prior to the WUF Session. The Steering Committee is the decision-making organ of the World Urban Campaign, made of two main co-Chairs and two elected PCG chairs in each of the 16 constituencies to lead the campaign and agree on the WUC vision, engagement, communication and outreach. Bert Smolders previously at Arcadis, Sandeep Chachra from Action Aid India, Immediate Past Chairs, as well Sri Husnaini Sofjan from the Huairou Commission, re-elected co-Chair, opened the session. Analia Lourdes Pastran, CEO at Smartly, Social Entrepreneurship on the SDGs, new Co-Chair, was represented through a video message.

PCG Chairs present at the Forum presented their vision for the next two years, up to WUF12. Christian Hubel from the City of Mannheim and PCG Chair of Local and Sub-national Authorities highlighted the positive and central role of local authorities in supporting and enabling NGOs, grassroots organizations, and civil society to better contribute to the SDGs. He committed to contribute to increase the engagement of city associations and reactivate some networks in the WUC. He suggested using the Urban Thinkers Campuses or the City We Need Now Campaign as instruments to convince and enable more cities to join the campaign.

As PCG Chair on Research and Academia, Margarita Greene from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, expressed the need for th WUC to strengthened the engagement of young academics in urban issues through a multi-disciplinary approach.

As chair of the PCG Civil Society Organisations, Jane Katz from Global Urban Development reiterated the need for a conversation between communities and national and local government bodies.

As co-Chairs of the PCG for Women, Limota Goroso Giwa of the Huairou Commission and Jane Anyango Odongo of Polycom Development presented their vision on gender equality for the WUC. They both expressed the need for cooperating between all PCGs and committed to continue amplifying the woman’s voice in all WUC activities, in particular through the Urban Thinkers Campuses. The issues of women should be on our agendas and put on the table at any time they said.

Both Alex Francisco, from Arcadis, and Parisa Kloss, from Resilient Urban Planning and Development, put forward the Urban Thinkers Campuses as a mechanism to be further development in order to capitalize on its ability to connect people through a joint narrative leading to action. Alex Francisco explained how Arcadis has been engaged since the start of the WUC in 2010 in order to better collaborate with a variety of actors and generate synergies for action. They both expressed their commitment to expand the engagement in the constituency given the crucial role of the private sector in the future of cities and towards achieving The City We Need.

Anne Louise Meincke, Global Urban Lead at Plan International, elected to chair the Children and Youth Group, explained the key role of her constituency in looking at urban issues in the current crisis and paving the way forward through tangible solutions. The group has already expanded in the last two years with many new members. The engagement of children and youth should grow further and advocacy activities are needed, through the Urban Thinkers Campus and social medias, around key milestones ahead.

Mr. Reza Pourvaziry, new PCG chair for the Foundations and Philanthropies, Chair of the Urban Economy Forum (UEF), was represented by Anantha Krishnan, UEF Secretary General. Foundations and Philanthropies, he said, must play an important role with the private sector to strengthen the economies of cities and towns. On behalf of UEF, he committed to bring new partners gathered through the Urban Economy Forum platform to better campaign together.

Ms. Mona Rady, from the Africa Union of Architects, new Chair for the Professionals Group, highlighted WUC's ability to reach out to all sectors of urban society globally and to exploit a unique network convened by UN-Habitat. Based in Cairo, Egypt, she committed to support the WUC Partners for a high visibility at the next World Urban Forum to be held in 2024 in Cairo and during COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh at the end of 2022. Timothy David Crawshaw, President of the Royal Town Planning Institute, representing Ms. Wei Yang, Immediate Past President, in her new role as elected co-Chair for the Professionals. On her behalf, he committed to work closely with other chairs and key stakeholders to strengthen international collaboration with a focus on capacity building and contribute to actions related to the climate and biodiversity emergency, as well as other international pressing issues under the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda. He expressed the need to empower and increase the engagement of young professionals and the wider community of professionals.

Christopher Elisara from First+Main Films, new elected Chair for the Medias in the Steering Committee, made a plea for a better engagement of the medias in order to amplify the WUC, its key messages, the solutions and game changers to be promoted. He highlighted the importance of social networks and the medias on which the WUC should further use to expand engagement. He committed to reach out to media outlets to increase engagement.

Michael Kanyingi Kimuhu of Mangu Integrated Community and PCG Chair of Older Persons argued the lack of attention paid in many policy sectors to older people.

José Luis Cortés, Secretary General of the International Union of Architects, also intervened at the end of the session to explain the commitment of their organization to the WUC. He invited the WUC to contribute to the next UIA World Congress of Architecture to take place in Copenhagen from July 2 to July 6, 2023, and to make the congress a milestone in the WUC road map in the next two years.

Both sessions generated a rich dialogue and questioning on the next steps in order to elevate the urban narrative to better demonstrate the power of key solutions and generate synergies for joint action for scaling-up. The tasks of advancing the New Urban Agenda and accelerating action to achieve the SDGs will remain the main drivers for the World Urban Campaign partners.

All photos from the events are available at:

Watch the fullrecording of the Special Session on the UN Medias portal:

Article by WUC Secretariat


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