Delegates at the Sixth Session of the World Urban Forum get down to serious business Monday and Tuesday as they dicussed various aspects of urbanization in many parts of the world.
From roundtables to dialogues and other forms of meetings, all the discussions were interwoven in the overall theme of this year's Forum-The Urban Future.
This is a round up of some of the activities that took place the first two days of the meeting.
The mayors' roundtable, held jointly with the United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authorities (UNACLA), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and UN-Habitat on Monday discussed various issues affecting their areas of jurisdiction.
Normally, UNACLA works with annual themes, which are chosen because they are issues that are constantly addressed at the local authority level. The Naples meeting was a culmination of the 2011-2012 working theme of Sustainable Urban Mobility.
The committee submitted a set of ten recommendations to UN-Habitat on what aspects of urban mobility to address and emphasize at the global level and through cooperation between the UN and local governments.
Some of these included city planning and mobility , emphasizing inclusive cities through mobility and prioritizing road safety.
Another UNACLA session aimed to provide a platform for ideas in which the body will progress their new work theme during 2012-2013: Job Creation and Local Productivity. The session held Tuesday commenced with expert presentations from the Mayor of Harare emphasizing the integration of youth into the policies related to employment at the local government level; the ILO on why the UN prioritizes job creation and economic growth as a component of the overall development agenda, and a collaboration point among UN agencies and major partners; and UN-Habitat's current approach and framework for job creation and local productivity. After which a collection of Mayors and Local Administrators shared modern concerns on the aforementioned topic, and submitted their recommendations on what the Committee should have in their work plan and should address in their upcoming UNACLA report.
Tuesday also saw some participants congregate for the Dialogue Two which was one of only four dialogues which are important events at the WUF to discuss and debate the key theme: The Urban Future. It focused on the multi-dimensionality of equity and its impact on urban development. It discussed the main factors that can lead to the optimization of shared and sustained urban prosperity. Understanding that equity is context-driven and acknowledging the various successful experiences, the dialogue provided a platform for exchanging insights and advancing further the strategies and actions for achieving prosperity in the future of the world's cities.
The dialogue was divided into two panels. The first panel focused on equity, prosperity and the role of income inequalities in cities. The second panel focused on the role that the housing sector can play in creating inclusive and prosperous cities, within the context of UN-Habitat's Global Housing Strategy to the year 2025.
A clear thread throughout the dialogue was recognition that never before in human history has humanity seen such a rapid increase in wealth. This is due to the role of cities. This wealth has contributed to the expansion of middle class, and the urban advantage – cities providing many improved opportunities, such as in the fields of health and education. So while cities and countries are becoming more prosperous, this growth has not been shared equitably. This is particularly the case in terms of access to basic services, such as housing. A new paradigm in housing was seen to be required, and such a new paradigm should be underpinned by right to adequate housing as defined in international accords and instruments. A central strategy to reach the goal of equitable and prosperous cities and adequate housing for all should be to strengthen the involvement of all actors in urban development processes, particularly women and the poor and marginalized, and to build the capacity of governments and local authorities to reduce inequalities and create just cities for all.