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Second session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly, Nairobi 5 - 9 June 2023

The World Urban Forum was present at the second session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly (UNHA2) through various engagements and side events.

Convened from 5 to 9 June 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya under the theme “A sustainable urban future through inclusive and effective multilateralism: achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in times of global crises,” the assembly provided the perfect opportunity to position the World Urban Forum on the international agenda and to kick-start the road to WUF12 to be held from 4 to 8 November 2024 in Cairo, Egypt.

The United Nations Habitat Assembly is the global authority on urban trends and policies. It convenes once in four years. 193 UN Member States cast their votes, while participants also include non-Member States, other UN bodies and specialized agencies, as well as intergovernmental organizations, civil society, private sector, academia and research institutions, women, youth and children, and grassroots organizations. 

WUF12 Pavillion at the second session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly in Nairobi ©IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis WUF12 Pavillion at the second session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly in Nairobi ©IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis

World Urban Forum 12 (WUF12) Pavillion hosted by the Government of Egypt

Visitors at the WUF12 Pavillion ©IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis

The WUF12 Pavillion showcased Egypt as the next host of the premier global conference on sustainable urbanization. The exhibition increased awareness among stakeholders and welcomed participants to join the forum in Cairo. 

For the first time in 20 years, the forum will be returning to the African continent, a continent known to have one of the world’s fastest rates of urbanization. It will be the first WUF to be held in a megacity, as Cairo is the largest metropolitan area in Africa and the Middle East, and the main driver behind the Egyptian economic development.

Localization to Close the Accessibility Gap: From WUF 11 Legacy on Universal Accessibility to engagement of persons with disabilities towards the full implementation of the New Urban Agenda, 5 June 2023

Panelists at the “Localization to Close the Accessibility Gap” side event, 5 June 2023 ©UN-Habitat

Moderated by Hannes Lagrelius from the World Blind Union, the event discussed trends, barriers, and practices for engagement of persons with disabilities in urban governance and planning to improve accessibility.

Recognizing that actions to address accessibility barriers are lagging, with limited participation of persons with disabilities at all levels, this event discussed how the Katowice Declared Actions and WUF 11 legacy can be transformed into practice. It also discussed ways forward for persons with disabilities to play active roles in localization efforts, ensuring that accessibility is at the top and centre.

The World Urban Forum Secretariat highlighted WUF11's commitment and model for inclusivity and accessibility with 100% accessibility to people with physical and hearing disabilities. It provided examples of how transformative action can be taken to ensure accessibility for all through universal design in the built environment and encouraging other events to prioritize the same.

The secretariat further emphasized the importance of incorporating the lessons learned from WUF11 in the planning and organization of WUF12 in Cairo, encouraging early consideration of universal accessibility in the planning phase to ensure a successful and inclusive WUF12.

The Government of Poland, through the participation of Minister Małgorzata Jarosińska-Jedynak, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy presented their initiatives executed for WUF11 in Katowice. Echoing this, the Government of Egypt reiterated their strong commitment to ensure inclusivity and accessibility during WUF12.

The event provided a platform to put forth recommendations to advance inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in the multilateral system and localization processes.

Read the event concept note here.

WUF Alumni Network Meeting, 6 June 2023

Participants at the WUF Alumni Network meeting in Nairobi, 6 June 2023 ©UN-Habitat

The WUF Alumni Network members held its first physical meeting of the year on the sidelines of the UNHA2 on 6 June 2023.  The meeting is part of a series of knowledge exchange discussions aimed at reinforcing a coherent and structured reporting process on the transformative impact of WUFs and support the planning of future forums.

As the host of WUF12, Egypt welcomed the support of the WUF Alumni Network and looks forward to their input on the conceptualization of key outcomes such as the WUF12 legacy initiatives and the development of the concept note.  Egypt also emphasized the importance for continued communication and consultation on the general preparations for forum with the network and with UN-Habitat.

The WUF secretariat provided an update on the status of preparations for the WUF12, including timelines, opportunities for engagement and benchmarks to be achieved including accessibility and inclusivity.

Former host cities and countries presented overviews of what was achieved in their cities and countries after hosting the WUF. The network also expressed their interest to continue working with UN-Habitat in various initiatives and projects i.e., Voluntary Local Reviews. WUF Alumni member, Ecuador is planning to host a National Urban Forum to mark Urban October celebrations and called on the network’s support in doing so. 

The network agreed to support Egypt in the implementation of WUF12 and the evaluation of its impact; to support the evaluation of WUF and WUF11 which are currently underway; to be part of the initiators of the WUF12 Declared Actions as will be defined during Urban October and to continue refining the network’s activities.

Participants included former hosts of WUF4 – China, WUF5 – Brazil, WUF6 – Italy, WUF7 – Colombia, Habitat III – Ecuador, WUF9 – Malaysia, WUF10 – UAE, WUF11 – Poland and future host of WUF12 – Egypt.

Ministerial Panel Discussion on Localizing Action on the New Urban Agenda and Climate Change: The Road to WUF12, 6 June 2023

High-level panelists at the Road to WUF12 side event, 6 June 2023 © UN-Habitat

Convened by the Government of Egypt, the event highlighted the importance of localizing action on sustainable urban development, on climate change, and the need for a shift in focus of technical support, funding, and modes of collaboration among stakeholders at the global, regional, national, and local levels, which needs to be addressed during WUF12.

This means that achieving the New Urban Agenda objectives not only requires innovative approaches to urban planning and development, but also increased efforts to enhance the capacity of local governments within a good governance framework and empowering them through genuine decentralization to mobilize local action.

The event furthered the discussion on the main theme of WUF12. Egypt presented its efforts and initiatives aligned with the WUF12 theme and called for engagement towards the preparation to WUF12, welcoming all participants to attend the WUF12 in Cairo. The event explored and presented potential links with interested countries and stakeholders to collaborate on the agenda and preparatory events throughout 2023-2024.

Read the event concept note here.

WUF12 Press Conference, 7 June 2023

World Urban Forum 12 Press Conference during the United Nations Habitat Assembly in Nairobi, 7 June 2023 © UN-Habitat

The Government of Egypt and UN-Habitat announced the dates for the World Urban Forum 12, the premier global conference on sustainable urbanization. The forum is scheduled to take place from 4 to 8 November 2024 at the Egypt International Exhibition Center in Cairo. The WUF12 will be the first time the forum returns to an African continent in over 20 years and the first time it is being held in a megacity.

As one of the most inclusive international gatherings on urban issues, UN-Habitat looks forward to working with the Government of Egypt to set even higher benchmarks on inclusivity and accessibility at WUF12. The organizers invited Member States, stakeholders, and the private sector to join the road to WUF12 and make sustainable, inclusive, and resilient cities a reality.

Read the press release here.

Delegates at the second session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly in Gigiri ©UN-Habitat