News in 2022

FIG Vice President attends United Nations 11th session of the World Urban Forum

26-30 June, 2022, Katowice, Poland

FIG Vice President Diane Dumashie attends the United Nations 11th session of the World Urban Forum (WUF11), Katowice, Poland from 26- 30 June 2022

Danilo Antonio (GLTN Professional Cluster lead) and Diane Dumashie (VP FIG)

FIG Vice President Dr Diane Dumashie attended the eleventh session of the World Urban Forum (WUF11) in Poland from 26- 30 June 2022, held in the Katowice International conference centre. Strategic partner meetings were also arranged with the Global Land Tool Network (UN Habitat) and Habitat for Professionals (HPF).

The World Urban Forum (WUF) is the premier global conference on sustainable urbanization.   This year the theme of WUF11 was “Transforming our Cities for a Better Urban Future”.   Hosted by the Polish Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy, and the Mayor of Katowice, it aimed to provide greater insights and clarity on the future of cities based on existing trends, challenges and opportunities, as well as to suggest ways cities can be better prepared to address future pandemics and a wide range of other shocks.

Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Under Secretary-General and Executive Director UN Habitat referring to the long term collaboration with the government of Katowice applauded the joint initiate of the Sustainable City Programme in 1992 and acknowledge the Honourable Mayor Marcin Krupa for the excellent cooperation and celebration of the Sustainable Development Goals in Katowice, where under this leadership the citizens of Katowice have truly transformed the city into a vibrant place to live, work and play.

Leftf: Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) Right: Spodek Arena and International confenrce centre  

The WUF11 theme provided a good opportunity for the city of Katowice to demonstrate to the world community its own commitment to achieving a sustainable urban future because Katowice is a great example of urban regeneration, creating inclusive, prosperous cities with opportunities for all.  The past years has seen a transformation from an economy that was heavily reliant on a single coal mining industry, to a diversified one that is freer, cleaner and greener, based on culture and services.

1. The Conference and Key Stats

The WUF is not a legislative forum, but a unique one where governments meet stakeholders and is largely led by partners.  

A view of part of the extensive meeting area WUF 11

An incredible place to network and meet with a range of partners, it was also highlighted that WUF11 was the most inclusive World Urban Forum, in terms of accessibility for the differently abled with interpretation and the use of sign language being mainstreamed on the screens and in person throughout the dialogues. The host country has also provided connectivity through digital services, making this the first truly hybrid WUF.

Key statistics record 22,595 persons registered, representing 173 countries including 6,153 participants connected online. In terms of speakers, panel parity was achieved with 54% women and 46% men thought leaders.

The Forum meetings are divided into dialogue sessions, special sessions, roundtables, youth, gender and business assemblies, networking events, caucus meetings, training events along with an exciting array of side events, exhibitions, cultural events and much more. (Barcelona in 2004, Vancouver in2006, Nanjing in 2008, Rio de Janeiro in 2010, Naples in 2012, Medellin in 2014, and Kuala Lumpur in 2018, Abu Dhabi in 2020. The World Urban Forum (WUF) was established in 2001 by the United Nations to examine one of the most pressing issues facing the world today: rapid urbanisation and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies. The first WUF was held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2002 and has been held around the world ever since.  See here all listed .  See also the brochure.)

2. Conference Theme: Urbanisation

The theme transforming our cities for a better urban future is in the context of the inevitable long-term prospects that point to a world that will continue to urbanize over the next decade— from 56% of the world’s population living in cities today, to 60% by 2030. Urban areas are the engines which will absorb virtually all the future growth of the world’s population. Every region is expected to become more urbanized in the next ten years. Clearly, this tells us that the future of humanity is undeniably urban, and we must plan our cities well to ensure sustainability, equity and shared prosperity

The coronavirus pandemic is a stark reminder that urban areas need to be prepared for a dynamic and unpredictable future. COVID-19 clearly exposed the existing challenges that cities face, and their vulnerability to shocks.  

This raises some key questions about the future of cities: what kind of cities are needed to support the future of humanity? How do we envisage and reimagine the future of cities? What do we want our cities to look like?  The theme of WUF11 focused on these questions, with the aim to provide an opportunity to anticipate change, course-correct, and become more knowledgeable about the different possibilities that the future of cities offers.

Specifically, Member States call for five areas of action:  1) Housing, basic services, and urban planning 2) Climate action and environmentally sustainability 3) Urban prosperity, economic transformation, and financing 4) multi-level governance, decentralisation, and localisation 5) post-Conflict/disaster urban recovery

3. Conference Outcomes

After five days of debate and discussion across 400 events, Thursday’s closing plenary highlighted the following WUF 11 key messages:

  1. The climate emergency, pandemics, the housing crisis, violence, and conflict, all converge in cities.
  2. If we want to transform to a better urban future, we will have to increasingly deal with urban crises. These crises, such as the growing number of urban poor, demand a fundamental shift, in the way we live and the way we shape our cities.
  3. There was a clear recognition that Mayors and local governments are both first responders, and are in a position to mobilise their communities to make that shift happen, accelerating towards greener, healthier, and more resilient cities.
  4. National governments can leverage this immense potential, through clarity on multi-level governance, bringing youth and local governments to the decision-making table, and investing early with the help of the private sector.
  5. Urban recovery frameworks allow us to connect locally driven people centred recovery with nationally-led interventions.
  6. Across the 10 events on Ukraine during WUF11, there was a clear call to sustain the decentralisation gains, and ensure broad-based collaboration, anchored in local governments.

And the Under Secretary-General and Executive Director also announced the:

Launch of UN Habitat bi annual publication “World Cities Report 2022: Envisaging the Future of Cities”. This year's edition includes scenarios that take into account sustainable development, addresses the issues of poverty and inequality, green transformation, urban governance and the role of technology and innovation in their development

Endorsement by: The meeting of 54 Member States of the Commonwealth of Nations (CHOGM) endorsed the “Responding to Rapid Urbanization and Climate Change: Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanization Across the Commonwealth” in their meeting in Kigali, Rwanda June 2022.

4. Meeting partners:

VP Diane Dumashie was pleased to reconnect with FIG strategic partners and held a number of partner land-related meetings during WUF, and attendance at:

  • GLTN partners breakfast meeting;
    a precursor to the full GLTN Steering Committee meeting to be held 5th September 2022
  • Habitats Professionals Forum, Launch of the HPF roadmap;
    This sets out 22 Propositions (grouped into general and thematic propositions) to change the way we plan and manage our cities and regions, and to make them fit for purpose in the Post-Covid World. If acted upon, these Propositions will help align the separate and disparate actions of government at all levels and link policies to delivery mechanisms.  (available on FIG  website)
  • Habitats Professionals Forum Roundtable;
    This was organised to review and discuss how to advance the role of the professionals in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda (NUA). 

Rafael Tuts Director of UN-Habitat's Global Solutions Unit

Opening with key note from Rafael Tut Director of UN-Habitat's  he highlighted three important aspects for effective engagement of professionals in the NUA:

- The way professionals relate to international agendas, emerging issues and overall values and principles of sustainability

That member association have step up to work together across a profession and identify new ways of articulation issues increasingly more complex requiring solutions in this time of crises and transformation.

- Moving forward Engagement with decision makers will be essential in shaping the type of cities and being built and transformed.

And, at the Habitats Professionals Forum General Assembly; Congratulations to the election of Chair Dr Mona Rady (UIA),  and Co-chair Mr. Eric Huybrechts (ICOMOS) for the period 2022- 2024

5. Final remarks

WUF images: left: WUF around the world Right: Katowice Silesian Museum

The closing ceremony in the Spodek Arena concluded with the torch for WUF12 being officially passed to the Egyptian government, represented by General Mohammed Sharawy, Minister of Local Development. 

If you wish to understand cutting edge discussions, rub shoulders with your own network but crucially those of others, registration for WUF is open to everyone, free of charge with the next WUF 12 scheduled to be held in Egypt in 2024.


Dr Diane A Dumashie FIG Vice President
July 2022