Summary report, 7–11 April 2014

7th Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF7)

The seventh session of the World Urban Forum (WUF7) was held in Medellín, Colombia from Saturday, 5 April to Friday, 11 April 2014. With sessions held every two years, the Forum examines rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies and policies. This year’s session of the Forum, with the theme “Urban Equity in Development – Cities for Life,” drew over 22,000 participants from more than 140 countries representing governments, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), urban professionals, local authorities and academics. The WUF, convened by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), is a non-legislative technical forum.

The opening ceremony, on Monday, 7 April, was preceded by four assemblies, focused on the themes of gender equality, urban youth, business and children, as well as by a weekend of city and parallel exhibition events. During WUF7, participants met in dialogues, roundtables, special sessions and plenaries. They also took part in city events, side events, networking and cultural events and televised “urban talk” debates. As the host city, Medellín showcased many of its innovative urban transformations, including solutions for accessible mobility and for public and green spaces in the city.

The WUF7 Medellín Declaration will feed into the post-2015 development agenda process and preparations for the Third UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in 2016.

WUF7 concluded with a reminder of the need for sustainable urbanization in achieving sustainable development.

This report provides a summary of WUF7’s events from 7-11 April 2014.


The first UN Conference on Human Settlements took place in Vancouver, Canada, from 31 May-11 June 1976. This meeting led to the Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements, which officially established the UN Centre for Human Settlements as the major UN agency mandated by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to pursue the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. In resolution 56/206 on 21 December 2001, the General Assembly transformed the UN Centre for Human Settlements into the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

In the same resolution, the General Assembly decided that the World Urban Forum (WUF), designated as an advisory body, would be a “non-legislative technical forum in which experts can exchange views in the years when the UN-Habitat Governing Council does not meet.” The WUF provides opportunities for debate and discussion about the challenges of urbanization and operates as an open-ended think tank.

UN-Habitat notes that cities face unprecedented demographic, environmental, economic, social and spatial challenges, with six out of every ten people in the world expected to reside in urban areas by 2030. According to UN-Habitat, more than 90% of this growth will take place in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Given this growth, urban areas are central to sustainable development efforts. WUF7 aimed to further advance the outcomes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20) as well as set the stage for the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

In September 2010, the General Assembly called for accelerating progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and developing a post-2015 development agenda. In response, the UN undertook several initiatives aimed at defining a post-2015 development agenda, including: setting up a UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda; launching a High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda; appointing a Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning; and launching national and global thematic consultations. During Rio+20, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 13-22 June 2012, governments agreed to launch a process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They called for the establishment of an Open Working Group (OWG) comprising 30 representatives from the five UN regional groups, nominated by UN Member States, to elaborate a proposal for SDGs to be submitted to the General Assembly for consideration and appropriate action in 2014.

UN CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT (UNCED): UNCED, also known as the Earth Summit, was held from 3-14 June 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The principal outputs of UNCED were the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21 (a 40-chapter programme of action) and the Statement of Forest Principles. Among other things, Agenda 21 acknowledged rapid urbanization, noting the increase in the size and number of cities “calls for greater attention to issues of local government and municipal management” and highlighting that if cities are properly managed, they can “develop the capacity to sustain their productivity, improve the living conditions of their residents and manage natural resources in a sustainable way.”

IISD-RS coverage of UNCED can be found at:

HABITAT II: The second Habitat Conference convened from 3-14 June 1996 in Istanbul, Turkey. The Habitat Agenda and the Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlements, adopted by 171 governments during the Conference, outlined more than 100 commitments and strategies to address shelter and sustainable human settlements, emphasizing the themes of partnership and local action. The Habitat Agenda set the twin goals of achieving adequate shelter for all and the sustainable development of human settlements. After much debate, the Conference also reaffirmed its commitment to the full and progressive realization of the right to adequate housing.

ISTANBUL+5: The 25th Special Session of the General Assembly for an overall review and appraisal of progress made in the implementation of the Habitat II outcomes took place from 6-8 June 2001 at UN headquarters in New York. At the special session, the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium, which consists of: a political declaration reaffirming the Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlements and the Habitat Agenda; a review and assessment of implementation of the Habitat Agenda; and proposals for further actions for achieving the goals of adequate shelter for all and sustainable development of human settlements.

WORLD URBAN FORUM (WUF): The First World Urban Forum session (WUF1) was held from 29 April-3 May 2002 in Nairobi, Kenya. Its theme was sustainable urbanization, and discussions focused on: the effect of HIV/AIDS on human settlements; violence against women; basic services and infrastructure, including provision of water and sanitation; and the need for secure tenure.

Subsequently, WUF sessions have been held every two years with themes ranging from “Sustainable Cities — Turning Ideas into Action” to “The Urban Future.” From 13-17 September 2004, WUF2 convened in Barcelona, Spain; WUF3 was held in Vancouver, Canada, from 19-23 June 2006; Nanjing, China, hosted WUF4 from 3-6 November 2008; WUF5 met in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, from 22-26 March 2010; and most recently, WUF6 was held in Naples, Italy, from 1-7 September 2012.

IISD-RS coverage of WUF3 can be found at:

WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (WSSD): The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI), adopted at the WSSD held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 26 August-4 September 2002, calls for achieving a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020. It also urges action at all levels to: improve access to land and property and provide adequate shelter and basic services for the urban and rural poor; increase decent employment, credit and income; remove unnecessary regulation and other obstacles for microenterprises and the informal sector; and support slum upgrading programmes within urban development plans.

IISD-RS coverage of the WSSD can be found at:

AMCHUD: The First African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development (AMCHUD-1) took place in Durban, South Africa, from 31 January-4 February 2005. The ministers adopted a Declaration on the establishment of the AMCHUD as the consultative mechanism for the promotion of sustainable development of human settlements in Africa. They also adopted an Enhanced Framework of Implementation and Related Outputs for more effective African urban development policies and strategies, with a special focus on poverty as a crosscutting issue applying to water, sanitation and human settlements.

Four more sessions of AMCHUD have been held, with the most recent taking place from 25-28 February 2014 in N’Djamena, Chad. In addition, a special session of AMCHUD was convened from 9-10 April 2011, with the aim of reviewing progress in implementing the Bamako Declaration and Action Plan, which spell out the commitment of African governments to improving land governance in order to tackle housing and sustainable urban development challenges.

HABITAT JAM: Organized by UN-Habitat, this global Internet discussion on urban problems took place from 1-3 December 2005 and solicited ideas from the public for WUF3. UN-Habitat reported that slum dwellers in poor countries were the most active group in this online forum.

EXPERT GROUP MEETING (EGM) ON LAND FOR SUSTAINABLE URBANISATION IN AFRICA: Sponsored by the Global Land Tool Network, the EGM on Land for Sustainable Urbanisation in Africa took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 21-22 February 2008. The purpose of the meeting was to prepare for thematic reviews on Land and on Africa for the sixteenth session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-16), held from 5-16 May 2008 in New York, United States.

IISD-RS coverage of the EGM on Land for Sustainable Urbanisation in Africa can be found at:

23RD SESSION OF THE UN-HABITAT GOVERNING COUNCIL (GC-23): Convened in Nairobi, Kenya, from 11-15 April 2011, this session focused on expanding equitable access to land and housing, basic services and infrastructure as a means to sustainable urban development. Eighteen resolutions were adopted by GC-23, addressing, inter alia: gender equality and empowerment of women in sustainable urban development; support for pro-poor housing; access to quality urban public spaces; the implementation of the Bamako Declaration and Action Plan and strengthening of AMCHUD; and strategies and frameworks for improving the lives of slum dwellers beyond the relevant MDGs target.

IISD-RS coverage of GC-23 can be found at:

STATE OF THE WORLD’S CITIES REPORT 2012/2013: Every two years, UN-Habitat publishes an update on urban development challenges, titled the State of the World’s Cities Report. The 2012/2013 report was released at a “transitional juncture in the international agenda,” following the Rio+20 conference and preceding the 2016 Habitat III conference that is anticipated to provide an updated Habitat Agenda. With the theme “Prosperity of Cities,” the report challenges readers to think beyond financial definitions of prosperity and introduces the City Prosperity Index as a tool and the Wheel of Prosperity as a conceptual matrix for decision makers. In the report, UN-Habitat advocates for people-centred, sustainable cities that use urban planning, legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks as instruments of prosperity and well-being. The report also highlights the role of cities in setting nations on a more inclusive, productive, creative and sustainable course.

RIO+20: The third and final meeting of the Preparatory Committee for Rio+20, pre-conference informal consultations and the UNCSD convened back-to-back in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 13-22 June 2012. During those ten days, government delegations concluded negotiations on the Rio outcome document, “The Future We Want,” and held, among other events, an Urban Summit that involved roundtables on, inter alia, multi-level governance and how cities across the world can learn from each other.

IISD-RS coverage of Rio+20 can be found at:

GLOBAL LEADERSHIP MEETING ON POPULATION DYNAMICS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA: The Global Leadership Meeting on Population Dynamics, one of 11 thematic leadership meetings convened as part of the UN’s global thematic consultations on the post-2015 development agenda, took place from 12-13 March 2013 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The meeting focused on four mega-trends, including urbanization. The meeting’s outcome document was the Dhaka Declaration on the Global Leadership Meeting on Population Dynamics in the context of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

IISD-RS coverage of the Global Leadership Meeting on Population Dynamics can be found at: IISD-RS coverage of other leadership meetings (on themes such as employment and inclusive growth, hunger and education) can be found at:

SEVENTH SESSION OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY OPEN WORKING GROUP ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS: The seventh session of the OWG on SDGs took place from 6-10 January 2014, at UN Headquarters in New York. The meeting brought together OWG members and other Member States, observers and representatives from UN agencies, and Major Groups to address the thematic issues of: sustainable cities and human settlements; sustainable transport; sustainable consumption and production (including chemicals and wastes); and climate change and disaster risk reduction.

IISD-RS coverage of the session can be found at:



The opening ceremony of the seventh session of the World Urban Forum (WUF7) began with a multimedia video presentation showcasing a wide variety of urban spaces and experiences, followed by an orchestral performance. Another video message went on to highlight the challenges of urban sprawl, segregation and congestion.

In a video address, Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, called for a new urban agenda that “leaves no one behind,” with cities as the foundation for global equitable sustainable development.

Pointing to good governance and engaged communities as keys to overcoming urban challenges, Aníbal Gaviria, Mayor of Medellín, Colombia, underscored the need for building equitable “cities for life.” He said cities have been efficient at building wealth, but less successful in building equity. He supported an urban Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) in the post-2015 development agenda.

Sergio Fajardo, Governor of Antioquia, Colombia, welcomed participants to Medellín, the capital of Antioquia, and described the city’s journey “from fear to hope” through a dramatic reduction of violence, bribery, illegal activities and inequality.

Luis Felipe Henao, Minister of Housing, City and Territory, Colombia, called WUF7 a “world cup of cities” that could challenge urban leaders to invest in education and develop safer public spaces, more comprehensive transportation networks, stronger institutions and more equitable societies.

US Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan emphasized growing inequality as the greatest threat to cities. He encouraged breaking down departmental silos, using comprehensive approaches developed in partnership and working with global actors and local stakeholders to address, inter alia: public infrastructure; a sense of place; health care access; and climate change.

Referring to Pacific countries as “nations of water,” Kiribati Vice President Teima Onorio highlighted the link between urban development and ocean resources and the threats of natural disasters to those nations.

Calling Medellín an “authentic city with radical hope,” UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) Executive Director Joan Clos commended local leaders for improvements in public services and social inclusion. He identified urban challenges such as scarcity of public space, youth unemployment and climate change, underscoring the need for national legislation to support local governments.

John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana, said that Africa had the world’s fastest rate of urbanization and urgently needs to make interventions to promote sustainable, equitable urban development. He suggested this involved, inter alia: developing housing projects with a growing number of partners; building human capacities; sharing institutional best practices; and developing infrastructure and local economies to generate employment opportunities.

Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia, urged focusing on people’s needs, expectations and well-being in the urbanization debate, the outcome of which he said would affect millions of lives. He shared examples from Colombian cities, including the establishment of housing programmes that were improving the quality of life for thousands of people. He said it was indispensable to include sustainable cities as part of the post-2015 development agenda.


Preceding the opening ceremony, four assemblies convened in parallel on Monday, 7 April.

WORLD URBAN YOUTH ASSEMBLY: YOUTH AND THE NEW URBAN AGENDA: In the opening session, Dan Sullivan, UN-Habitat Youth Advisory Board, highlighted the world’s rapidly growing youth population, and called on youth to embody the values of “social urbanism.” Jiang Mingjun, International Ecological Safety Collaborative Organization (IESCO), noted that youth suffer disproportionately in the labor market during economic crises and discussed UN-Habitat’s Youth Empowerment and Urban Ecological Safety Program. Valeria Mejía Echeverría, Secretariat for Youth, Medellín, called for an inter-generational dialogue on building sustainable cities and making “ideas travel faster than institutions.” Naam Deo Singh, Vihangam Yoga Sasthan, discussed vocational training programmes for underprivileged youth in India. Alioune Badiane, UN-Habitat, said that urban policies should only be decided with youth input.

The Youth Assembly convened 12 sessions throughout the day on youth engagement in topics ranging from sustainable development to water management to post-conflict zones. This report covers a selection of these sessions.

Youth and sustainable development: On sustainable development, one panelist discussed social cartography, which he said describes territories according to their physical, social, economic, political, imaginary and symbolic properties. Participants watched youth-created documentaries about water, biodiversity and natural history in Colombia aimed at increasing awareness about diminishing natural resources and the need for protected areas in urban contexts. Panelists also discussed ecological threats from gold mining in rural Colombia and the importance of rural areas to urban food security.

Youth, land and the post-2015 agenda: Youth from five countries shared projects identified by a joint initiative between the Global Land Tool Network and UN-Habitat as contributing to an understanding of how to develop a “youth-responsive” land sector. The presenters discussed action-based research projects from Kenya, Nepal, Brazil, Zimbabwe and Yemen focused on, inter alia: peri-urban agricultural development, public spaces, youth engagement in official decision-making processes, land tenure insecurity and state land allocation.

Youth skills training and employment programmes in Asia: Panelists from IESCO, UN-Habitat and its Youth Advisory Board, vocational and training schools and governments in Asia discussed, among other things: structural barriers youth face when entering the labor force; opportunities for youth in the information and communications technology and green economy sectors; and the dangers of social polarization of youth through unemployment and underemployment. Several discussed ethics, spirituality and a sense of service in training approaches. Speakers highlighted youth as a creative, versatile and active partner.

Innovative finance in youth development: Panelists discussed innovative financing initiatives for youth, including UN-Habitat’s Urban Youth Fund, which provides up to $25,000 to youth-led community projects, and the Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation’s India Youth Fund, which provides small grants and training to advance youth empowerment in India. One panelist noted the importance of training youth in basic computer and Internet skills to enhance their educational, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. To generate financial support for youth projects, panelists highlighted the importance of networking and online crowdfunding platforms.

Assembly closing: Madina Saidi described her life as a 16-year-old Afghan who has “only known war.” She highlighted activities in Afghanistan aimed at helping youth build a more peaceful future, including “Go Skateboarding Day.” Lene Conradi, Mayor of Asker, Norway, stressed that “few are better placed than youth to provide input on the future of the cities they call home.” Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, UN-Habitat Deputy Executive Director, said that a key element of sustainable development was “capturing youth voices and facilitating youth involvement.” Douglas Ragan and Erik Vittrup, UN-Habitat, described the 36-hour WUF7 “hackathon” that brought together youth to create mobile phone apps to address urban resilience and youth, and recognized the winning team, “Reyes Magicos (RM) +.” Markus Nilsen Rotevatn, Norwegian Youth Council, called upon Youth Assembly participants to contribute to the final WUF7 youth statement, and Stella Agara and Lorenzo Casullo, UN-Habitat Youth Advisory Board, urged youth to participate actively in other WUF7 events.

GENDER EQUALITY ACTION ASSEMBLY: GENDER EQUALITY AND URBAN EQUITY: CONTRIBUTING TO THE POST-2015 AGENDA: The Gender Equity Action Assembly opened with a moment of silence to acknowledge the 20-year anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide. The Assembly focused on three objectives: to promote women’s empowerment, gender equity and urban equity; to support gender-responsive governance, policies, services and legislation; and to facilitate strategies to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality as part of the post-2015 development agenda and Habitat III. Speakers discussed, inter alia: women’s role in peace-building; the need for urban design to focus on women’s safety; women’s tenure security and land equity; access to resources and capacity building to facilitate women’s empowerment and economic development; sexual rights and reproductive health; and challenges faced by rural women migrating to cities. Acknowledging gender as a crosscutting issue, speakers highlighted the importance of a gender-focused assembly at a WUF session.

Breakout groups debated the Assembly’s main themes. Group 1 acknowledged the societal and economic costs that result when women are excluded from urban policy, and asked what a city would look like if it was designed by women. Group 2 addressed gender equality in education, women’s political empowerment and city planning with women in monitoring positions. Group 3 addressed “gender-responsive budgeting” with resources to support women’s participation in planning sustainable cities.

The moderators outlined the need to, inter alia: provide inclusive education policies; include women in decision-making; ensure women are informed about policies that affect them; adopt women-sensitive urban planning; and build solidarity among women at the global level. UN-Habitat said the session’s active discussion would contribute to the Medellín Declaration, the post-2015 development agenda, Beijing+20 (a follow-up to the 1995 World Conference on Women) and Habitat III.

Following the Assembly, UN Women, UN-Habitat, United Cities and Local Governments and the Huairou Commission announced a partnership on gender-responsive local governance, called Strengthening Women’s Public Leadership: Providing Sustained Support to Formal and Informal Women Leaders for Improved Local Governance.

BUSINESS ASSEMBLY: A GLOBAL CONVERSATION ON CITIES: On Monday, participants heard statements from Aníbal Gaviria, Mayor of Medellín; Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation; Michael Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change; and Joan Clos, Executive Director, UN-Habitat. Gaviria said Medellín’s transformation had been possible thanks to a robust private sector as well as public-private partnerships targeting social inequality on issues such as education and food security. Walker invited participants to consider how business leaders could transform cities by “disrupting” current patterns and ensuring investments benefit all citizens. Bloomberg suggested the Forum send a clear message that cities are key to solving the climate challenge, saying mayors could lead by example to inspire national and international action. Clos stressed the need to address five major urbanization challenges, namely: the scarcity of well-connected public spaces; excessive sprawl; a lack of mixed-use spaces; social segregation, including through gated communities; and limited availability of land for building, which was increasing land prices and driving the poor and middle classes out of certain areas.

Five business panelists outlined sustainability initiatives within their organizations and emphasized, inter alia: the role of energy in achieving more equitable cities; the need for cities to share experiences in achieving a cleaner energy mix; technology’s potential to facilitate communication between citizens and the public and private sectors; the need to generate knowledge on urban design, planning and development in Latin America; and the need for long-term, profitable investments to mitigate urban greenhouse gas emissions.

In response to audience questions, panelists said: innovation is key to managing industries’ environmental impacts; companies are increasingly aware of the need to reduce inequality and poverty; more action is needed to address the needs of people with disabilities; regulations are essential to make cities more inclusive; and energy and technology investments are needed to achieve more equitable cities.

City Conversations: Four parallel sessions were held to discuss initiatives in Santa Marta, Colombia; Kisumu, Kenya; Nampula, Mozambique; and Delmas, Haiti. This report covers the Santa Marta session. Following the sessions, participants heard a brief summary of each city conversation in plenary. In discussions, panelists clarified that UN-Habitat is not a funding agency but provides technical assistance and develops pilot projects and said local governments must develop a vision for sustainable cities and continuously engage with local communities.

Santa Marta conversation: Carlos Caicedo, mayor of Santa Marta, presented his city’s long-term plan to become more inclusive and sustainable by 2025, noting key plan features: a social housing project involving displaced people; a watershed management plan; expansion of the city’s airport and major seaport; creating a network of parks and public spaces; and projects to create greater connectivity through air, sea and rail transport. Private sector panelists outlined their contributions to Santa Marta’s sustainable development, stressing the importance of: having a common long-term city vision; making citizens aware of the city’s natural resources; developing clear plans to ensure housing projects improve people’s living standards; creating public-private partnerships to achieve urban sustainability goals; and promoting a “mindset shift” to create a connection between citizens and their city. In discussions, the mayor of Santa Marta said his city’s visibility at the international level would ensure continuity of his administration’s plan, which has equity at its core and sets conditions for private sector involvement in projects. Another panelist remarked that private sector participation in social housing projects involved setting up sustainability targets and measuring performance against those targets.

Medellín: The Story: A session on Medellín’s transformation featured city business leaders and local government representatives. On how Medellín’s private sector had helped to transform the city, panelists stressed, inter alia, the commitment of businesses to: stay in the city; contribute to the public agenda beyond private interests; and participate in change by supporting social transformation and improving public spaces. Among lessons learned from Medellín’s transformation, speakers named the need for a strong city vision, the value of regular and independent accountability assessments for transparency, and the importance of establishing partnerships and trust among government, the private sector and academic institutions. Responding to how cities could encourage support from the private sector, panelists identified the need for long-term visions extending beyond political terms, along with the importance of listening and building partnerships.

CHILDREN’S ASSEMBLY: CITIES FOR CHILDREN—TOWARDS THE CITY WE NEED: The Children’s Assembly, co-hosted by UN-Habitat and World Vision International, opened with a call-and-response cheer and a sing-along about cities, parks and metro systems. Among other presenters, speakers from the Medellín Secretariat of Education, World Vision and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) encouraged children to speak out and “challenge” the world with their ideas about how to create safe and child-friendly cities. A child from La Paz, Bolivia noted that kids “are not objects, but subjects who can give opinions.” The young participants then broke off into activity groups to paint, build and converse about cities throughout the morning.


WUF7 featured six dialogue sessions, held each morning from Wednesday, 9 April to Friday, 11 April. All dialogues are summarized below.

Equity in Urban Development Law: On Wednesday morning, Beatrice Marshall, CCTV News, moderated the dialogue on urban law’s role in attaining urban equity.

Juan Manuel González, lawyer and urban law expert, explained that cities are the places where principles of equity are translated into practice. He said urban equity requires organized urban planning, which in turn requires legislation on areas such as public spaces, road networks, utilities and environmental protection.

Stating that without the rule of law a city becomes a “jungle,” Joan Clos, UN-Habitat Executive Director, encouraged lawyers to play an active role in defining and defending public space and ensuring equitable urban planning through legislation.

Anne-Marie Leroy, World Bank, called urban law an “invisible but essential piece of a city’s infrastructure,” pointing to the economic as well as moral reasons for addressing urban inequality. Noting that “informal” settlements and employment sectors utilized by the poor are illegal, she called for legislation that more fairly reflects how people live and work and that prioritizes affordability and equitable access.

Carolina Tohá Morales, Mayor of Santiago de Chile, Chile, said Chile’s macroeconomic progress has not led to equitable outcomes and outlined Santiago de Chile’s efforts to reverse inequality through strong citizen participation, inner city social housing and revitalization of public spaces and green areas.

Judge Zione Ntaba, High Court of Malawi, said urban equity was about fairness. She reflected on the role of judges in interpreting social and economic constitutional rights such as the right to basic services, which is sometimes difficult to enforce.

Sai Balakrishnan, Columbia University, said a mismatch between legal boundaries and actual spaces creates a void in public authority that can lead to conflict and illegitimate forms of governance such as “water mafias.” She stressed that public authorities must adapt to new urban settings and redesign laws to produce equitable outcomes.

Edesio Fernandes, University of London, said the legal system has played a “fundamental role” in determining the patterns of urban development and exclusion, noting the problem is not the absence but the nature of laws in cities. He called for emphasizing social and collective rights and finding mechanisms for value capture to ensure public benefits are equitably distributed rather than privatized.

In the ensuing panel and audience discussions, several panelists highlighted the importance of the enforcement and public acceptance of laws, with one underscoring that law is a tool, not an end in itself. Leroy and Balakrishnan spoke of the mismatch between laws inherited from colonial administrations and the current reality of social and political systems, with Balakrishnan describing India’s revisions to its Land Acquisition Act in response to social mobilization. Reviews of urban legislation have also been undertaken in Malawi, noted Ntaba, in light of rapidly increasing urbanization. Given his country’s decentralization of power, Fernandes noted that the effectiveness of Brazil’s new City Statute would depend on its implementation by cities.

Noting the uneven capacity of communities to participate in decision-making processes for development plans on issues such as jail establishment or infrastructure improvements, Morales said the law should ensure that poor and disempowered communities are not increasingly disadvantaged.

Responding to comments, panelists: advocated for the development of “smart rules” citizens could easily follow instead of embracing informality, which often leads to abuse and insecurity; called for state intervention in urban planning to address spatial inequalities; encouraged urban planners to work with lawyers and to include social and technical aspects to devise viable laws; advised reducing the power of private sector interests in planning, including the construction sector; and urged addressing environmental issues such as water and waste from a wider, regional perspective. Speakers also emphasized the centrality of defining property rights in urban laws, including different forms of ownership. They also highlighted the transnational and cross-border nature of many urban challenges and the importance of ongoing citizen participation in decision-making processes.

Urban Planning and Design for Social Cohesion: In this dialogue on Wednesday morning, Guillermo Herrera Castaño, Vice Minister of Housing, City and Territory, Colombia, stressed the need to improve social cohesion and introduced Colombia’s new urban planning trajectory, noting it included, inter alia, fiscal and policy tools to link national and local policies and connect formal and informal communities.

UN-Habitat Executive Director Joan Clos encouraged the adoption of an urban planning approach that plans for everyone and focuses on urbanization, zoning and building. Noting that urban planning is more than master planning, he urged urban planners to defend access to public spaces, facilitate interconnected cities and support affordability.

Moderator Shipra Narang Suri, International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) introduced as dialogue objectives, inter alia: stressing the relevance of spatial planning; highlighting innovations and experiences and exploring their transferability; and identifying financial mechanisms and supportive institutions.

Roslynn Greef, City of Johannesburg, South Africa, presented a film and introduced the “Corridors of Freedom” project, which aims to reconnect the city after apartheid and focuses on high-density mixed-use development, public space and parks inclusion, improved mobility and creating a sense of place.

Ali Madanipour, Newcastle University, UK, cautioned against the physical determinism of thinking that “by reorganizing space, you can solve social problems,” while stressing that planning and design could contribute to social cohesion by fighting the “fragmentation trend” of cities.

Lisa Rice, National Fair Housing Alliance, US, discussed the role of civil society in advancing social cohesion in cities, specifically through the implementation of fair housing legislation that works toward reducing racial disparities and isolation.

Daniel Chain, Regional Minister of Urban Development, Buenos Aires, Argentina, stressed that “economic growth does not equal development,” calling for changes in urban inequity. He described urban planning initiatives in Buenos Aires, including lower-income housing and green space development projects in abandoned areas.

Jean-Marie Kazadi, Provincial Minister of Infrastructure, Urban Development, Habitat and Financial Affairs, Katanga, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), introduced challenges in DRC cities, notably a colonial legacy of social segregation. Identifying the country’s rapid rate of urbanization, he said urban areas lack services and safety. He outlined UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UN-Habitat collaborative infrastructure modernization projects that employ local people, promote social cohesion and place people at the center of urban planning.

Anke Brummer-Kohler, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany, described the development of a national urban development policy where residents engage in planning through a neighborhood management facility.

The audience asked about, inter alia: methods to improve public participation; urban planning in local communities and marginalized neighborhoods; and efforts to reduce segregation in tourist towns. Kazadi commented on the link between poverty and criminality, claiming that policy should support greater inclusion and access to education and jobs. Chain discussed a social housing project in Buenos Aires, stressing the need for collaborative planning, design and execution processes. On how to reconcile conflicting interests in urban planning, Madanipour cautioned against listening only to those with “the most money and the most power.” Brummer-Kohler discussed the importance of considering input from all stakeholders.

Rice outlined funding mechanisms to support civil society engagement in urban planning and increase social cohesion, including provisions in the US Fair Housing Act regarding the distribution of federal funds to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) through municipalities. She said NGOs could help create the necessary infrastructure for citizens to contribute to urban planning processes.

Panelists debated challenges and hurdles to the urban planning process, such as the perception of public participation as “merely the justification and legitimization of decisions already made.” They also discussed conflicting mining and land tenure laws in the DRC constitution and the need for private sector involvement in housing and urban planning, comprehensive land use plans and access to public spaces for sports and recreation.

Innovative Financing Instruments for Local Authorities: On Thursday morning, participants discussed strategies for mobilizing the revenue needed to finance the social equity and inclusion initiatives that are crucial to sustainable urban development.

Mayor Benjamin Abalos, Mandaluyong, the Philippines, stated that revenue is a barometer of investor confidence in a city and a reflection of the quality of municipal fiscal management. He explained that his city attracted investors by reducing red tape, eliminating corruption and offering transparent procedures.

Alfredo Garay, Corporación Antiguo Puerto Madero S.A., Argentina, discussed the need to identify the vehicles linking global financial capital to local urban development efforts.

Matthew Glasser, World Bank, discussed the ways municipalities can collect revenue through interest and land-based financing tools, including property and business taxes. He also noted that long-term urban financing strategies should take aging infrastructure into account.

Ibrahim Muhanna, Muhanna Foundation, Lebanon, said that municipal finance assessments must consider not only a city’s revenue and debt, but also long-term liabilities such as staffing and project commitments.

Among successful land-based financing instruments, Lawrence Walters, Brigham Young University, US, identified tools for cost recovery of public investments, including “betterment levies,” which allocate a portion of the costs of public infrastructure improvements to land owners, and “developer exactions,” through which a city receives land or cash in exchange for development plan approval. He pointed to efforts by cities to share in gains from increased land value, such as capital gains sharing and franchise fees, as less successful.

Discussing innovative financing structures for municipalities beyond tax structures, Abalos pointed to a “build-operate-transfer” project his government had negotiated with private developers to fund the construction of a public market.

On access to capital markets, Glasser pointed to the need for national governments to establish legal and regulatory frameworks enabling municipalities to enter capital markets, particularly through legislation to ensure cities could make long-term financial commitments in spite of their short-term electoral cycles. Muhanna underlined that commercial borrowing requires cities to demonstrate the financial viability of projects. He explained that his organization’s evaluation of municipalities’ credit ratings was based not only on their revenues, assets and expenses, but also on non-financial measures, including the clarity of a city administration’s understanding of its roles and responsibilities.

Participants discussed subsidies and how growing financial inequality could be overcome, with Muhanna underscoring that equal treatment of citizens does not ensure equal outcomes, Abalos describing education subsidies in place in his city that ensure a “trickle-down” of wealth and Glasser urging the use of targeted instead of generalized subsidies, such as income grants that enable the poor to pay the full cost of services. Walters cautioned that local governments often lack the administrative capacity to implement equitable, effective and transparent targeted subsidies. Paula Andrea Tamayo, Secretary for Gender, City of Medellín, Colombia, commented on the need to bridge social relationships across economic strata in cities, noting this could be facilitated through education to enable citizens to engage in public participation and the creation of safe, dignified public spaces. Garay urged the review of planning mechanisms and property laws to prioritize social and ecological values over private interests.

In discussions, participants highlighted, inter alia: the option of taxing land as a value-sharing and revenue-generating mechanism; the importance of transparency in municipal government; and the need to consider equity with regard to both expenditures and revenue. Speakers also said that: subsidies must be perceived by citizens as fair in order to be effective; public-private partnerships require robust agreements between governments and private partners, in part to ensure that the public sector does not assume all the risk while private partners receive all the profit; decentralization of local versus national governmental responsibilities must be considered on a case-by-case basis; and land taxes should involve subsidies for lower-income groups.

Basic Services: Local Businesses for Equitable Cities: Dialogue moderator Mathieu Lefevre, New Cities Foundation, asked participants to focus on the role of business and governments in providing basic services to fulfill urbanization’s promise to deliver sustainable development.

Natalia Andrea Trujillo, Vice Minister of Water and Sanitation, Colombia, said private sector involvement and decentralization have enabled the nearly universal delivery of basic services in some Colombian cities. She said remaining challenges included: reaching rural areas; ensuring low-income homes have the infrastructure to enjoy the services provided; managing risk; and providing solid waste and wastewater management services.

Andre Dzikus, UN-Habitat, highlighted the key role of basic services in attaining sustainable urbanization. He called upon governments and the private sector to work together to fulfill unfinished Millennium Development Goals such as sanitation and to provide input for the post-2015 development agenda and Habitat III.

Juan Esteban Calle Restrepo, Public Enterprises of Medellín (EPM), shared EPM’s success in building more equitable cities and rural areas through provision of affordable public services. The keys to its success, he said, included, inter alia, its: independence from the government; core values of hard work and transparency; operational excellence; innovation; social and environmental commitments; and commitment to universal provision of services and social financing to ensure that lower-income communities can afford them.

Patrick Magebhula, Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), proclaimed that there was “no freedom without sanitation and basic services.” He urged the business sector to engage with local communities when planning basic service provision, stating that local residents know best how certain spaces are used.

Joachim Prey, German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), Germany, stated that basic service provision should be local, context-appropriate and provide local jobs. He called for projects linking large providers with local service entrepreneurs in order to improve efficiency and ensure quality without destroying local business models. Prey stressed the need for local governments to coordinate interactions between local communities and the private sector, including formal and informal service providers.

Sharing a water provisioning example in the Kathmandu Valley, Mahendra Subba, Ministry of Urban Development, Nepal, described challenges facing informal sector water providers, noting the licensing process for these vendors is “tedious” and lacks transparency. He said this creates problems, including difficulties with monitoring water quality and groundwater levels. He queried how the water sector could learn from other service sectors to improve provision, quality and affordability.

Sarah Rosen Wartell, Urban Institute, said that data gathering could play a key role in facilitating basic service provision and encouraged an open, transparent data culture. Stating that the government could help enable the private sector to improve basic service provision, she gave the example of how sharing data with grocers in low-income US urban areas had helped these “food deserts” gain access to fresh produce.

Responding to audience comments, panelists discussed, inter alia: the role of pre-paid models and subsidization to enable providers to cater to low-income households; the need to raise public awareness about the negative impacts of illegal household connections to basic services; the risks of providing services at no cost; how community involvement in the provision of basic services could create employment and training opportunities; the role of transparency and public participation in preventing corruption in service provision; and the challenges of solid waste management.

On financing, panelists discussed possible revenue sources for basic services such as: taxes, tariffs and transfers; borrowing schemes for capital-intensive projects such as water supply systems; innovative mechanisms such as social impact funds, which enable private investors to invest in basic services and obtain a return if minimum targets are met; micro-financing schemes and collective funds; and partnerships between local governments and service providers for initial financing.

Raising Standards of Urban Resilience: Ludwig Siegele, The Economist, moderated this dialogue, held on Friday morning.

Joan Clos, UN-Habitat Executive Director, urged establishing a close link between urbanization and resilience to enable cities to adapt to climate change and other risks. Noting that urbanization was occupying more land than populations needed and cities were “losing density,” he called for a new urbanization model with reduced energy consumption, social conflict, segregation and inequality.

Judith Rodin, The Rockefeller Foundation, urged adopting a “resilience lens” for urbanization to enable citizens, cities and systems to survive, adapt and grow regardless of chronic stresses or acute shocks. She said the “unprecedented” rate and scale of urbanization, globalization and climate change make current shocks different from those of the past, but said cities now have the ability to deploy new technologies, processes and data systems to assess and respond to threats. Outlining the Foundation’s “100 Resilient Cities” initiative, she said innovative financing options could provide the large initial investments needed for resilience.

Luz Helena Sarmiento Villamizar, Minister of Environment and Territorial Development, Colombia, urged the adoption of an inclusive concept of resilience to enable cities to absorb shocks, adapt and continue providing ecosystem services while reducing poverty and inequality. She outlined some potential strategies for building resilient cities: optimal transport systems minimizing commute times and air pollution; education and citizen participation to build new development patterns; and sound waste management and sanitation.

Stressing that current decisions would affect future urban resilience, Kathryn Vines, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, outlined cities’ efforts to address climate change by, inter alia: developing early warning systems; combating urban heat islands through green roofs and park planning; improving water management via urban drainage and permeable paving; and “cementing actions” to engage communities and generate citizen pride.

Stating that no city could fully protect itself from disaster by building dams and dikes, Stefan Denig, Siemens Sustainable Cities Program, called on cities to invest in infrastructure robustness, including by: integrating backup power generation systems; increasing system flexibility through decentralized infrastructure and renewable energy investments; and incorporating data on power consumption and grid management.

In the ensuing discussion, several mayors shared their experiences, with one stressing the importance of community participation in building urban resilience. Several participants urged a focus on humans as “agents of transformative change” for sustainable and resilient cities, with one mayor proposing human happiness become the central objective of governments. Another said investments in ecosystem services, such as natural areas providing water, were often more cost-effective than infrastructure investments. A World Bank participant called for comprehensive and upfront planning to build awareness and increase resilience against possible risks to infrastructure investments.

Responding to comments, panelists stressed, inter alia, that urban resilience: is not about “cocooning” cities and building walls, but involves flexibility, learning and continuous adaptation; has a central human component and relates to how a city responds to a range of shocks and stresses, from climate change to violence; and requires engaging and collaborating with rural areas. Panelists also commented that urban resilience: involves both adaptation and mitigation to address climate change; requires comprehensive planning; necessitates working with a broad range of actors across silos and disciplines; and involves empowering communities.

Margareta Wahlström, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, urged WUF7 to seize the opportunity to emphasize the importance of resilience and its social aspects in the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction as well as in the post-2015 development, climate and urban agendas. She highlighted the role of cities as places where global standards are implemented locally, stating, “what cities do matters.”

A Safe City as a Just and Equitable City: On Friday morning, Jorge Enrique Bedoya Vizcaya, Ministry of National Defence, Colombia, opened the dialogue by outlining Colombia’s policies and strategies to make cities safer. Along with increased policing, surveillance and intelligence, he identified the importance of community outreach and trust building to reduce criminality, drug trafficking and gangs.

Dialogue moderator Edwin Heathcote, architect, writer and critic, said that while safety is often left out of discussions about equity, it affects the daily experience of all citizens, especially marginalized people.

Following a video on the Because I am a Girl: Urban Programme, which highlighted efforts toward creating safe, accountable and accessible cities for adolescent girls in India, two Ugandan youth delegates shared the challenges facing girls growing up in cities and urban slums. They noted that overcrowded public transport and unlit streets increase the risk of sexual harassment, making young women feel unsafe and limiting their mobility. They also highlighted that many girls are forced into commercial sex work, exposing them to HIV and unwanted pregnancies. They called for the involvement of girls in planning and governance at all levels, and for interventions directed at vulnerable girls in urban communities, including the availability of social workers and counselors, vocational training, toll-free emergency helplines and support to attend national and international conferences on child and human rights.

Rodrigo Alejandro Nieto, Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, Mexico, proposed areas requiring policy attention that he said could transform city safety and security, including: combating urban sprawl with orderly, planned urban densification; increasing access to housing and land, particularly for those lacking secure tenure; the recovery of public spaces and infrastructure, especially by reducing investments in roads and private vehicles; environmental protection as a way to reduce social tensions and strengthen social relationships; providing access to technology in poor neighborhoods; and disaster risk reduction to address climate change and catastrophic events.

Panelists also discussed the need for: understanding that safety entails both economic equity and physical security; cities that guarantee safer living conditions for women; urban spaces built to foster communities of people rather than accommodate cars; and strengthened roles for citizens, especially women, in enforcement and oversight. One panelist noted that, “if a city can be made safe for women, it will be a just and equitable place for all citizens.”

Audience participation began with musicians leading a “hip hop debate” on the concentration of wealth and the inclusion of children’s voices in cities, with one exhorting that “safe, equitable cities are for all our kids.” Panelists responded to interventions on, inter alia: strategies to avoid segregation between the rich and the poor; how participatory land use planning could help counter the negative impacts of mining and its associated unplanned, transient communities; the need to recover family integration and cohesion to foster safer cities; the need for artistic programmes that promote hope and counter segregation and drug use; and the need to seek feedback on policy implementation from marginalized populations. Participants also discussed the particular safety concerns of disabled women, the need to listen to children when developing urban strategies and the importance of having decision-makers directly experience the conditions faced by citizens.


During WUF7 participants gathered for 11 roundtables held Tuesday, 8 April, Thursday, 10 April, and Friday, 11 April, focused on: ministers; mayors; global parliamentarians; civil society organizations; the private sector; habitat professionals; universities; urban researchers; youth; indigenous people; and gender and women. This report features six of these roundtable sessions. Further summaries of the roundtables are included in the section on plenary sessions.

Ministerial Roundtable: On Tuesday morning, ministers and other high-level officials met in a Ministerial roundtable to share experiences in addressing urban inequity and reflect on actions that national governments could take to create more equitable urban systems.

Luis Felipe Henao, Minister of Housing, City and Territory, Colombia, urged the roundtable to develop national-level tools to guarantee just and efficient distribution of resources and services and outlined Colombia’s efforts to tackle poverty and inequity in cities. Joan Clos, Executive Director, UN-Habitat, said that central governments play a major role in urbanization, including through financing and legislation. Speaking on behalf of the African Ministerial Council on Housing and Urban Development (AMCHUD), Gata Ngoulou, Minister of Finance, Chad, called for more teamwork between the global North and South on urban development. Noting that “there’s no one model for the cities of tomorrow,” Johannes Hahn, European Commission, listed as actions that could help cities realize their potential: boosting urban research and innovation capacities; supporting small and medium-sized enterprises; and investing in the low-carbon economy. Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, US, described the history of “radical de-urbanization” in some US cities through suburban expansion and interventions to reverse this trend, including neighborhood-, city- and regional-scale interventions to bring marginalized populations into “higher-opportunity” housing.

Panelists from different regions described challenges facing their regions along with efforts taken to tackle inequity and provide adequate housing and basic services to all segments of society.

In the ensuing discussion, participants highlighted requirements for more equitable urbanization, including: equitable distribution of public goods; increased coordination between different levels of government; robust urban planning and community engagement; and subsidized housing.

Responding to questions, panelists stated that: mechanisms such as local and regional trust funds, small levies on property taxes and mortgage transaction fees could help finance housing programmes; community engagement could be improved by reaching out to the philanthropic sector and investing in capacity-building for community organizations; decentralization of urban planning could increase local ownership of urban development; and national databases mapping equity across regions, cities and neighborhoods could help citizens make informed decisions about where to live.

UN-Habitat concluded the session by encouraging WUF7 participants to articulate a vision for the new urban agenda for Habitat III and the post-2015 development processes.

Mayors Roundtable: On Tuesday morning, a Mayors roundtable convened as a closed session to discuss urban equity and the new urban agenda.

Calling cities a “source of social transformation,” Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, Deputy Executive Director, UN-Habitat, encouraged strong leadership to help cities realize their potential for efficiency, productivity and innovation.

Moderated by Álvaro García, RED Noticias, two panels of local authorities addressed two central questions: the contribution of urban leaders to urban inequality reduction; and how mayors could engage with the post-2015 development agenda and Habitat III processes.

In the first panel, co-chair Mayor Aníbal Gaviria, Medellín, Colombia, emphasized the need for permanent involvement of cities in global decision-making structures and institutions. Presenting Delft as a “knowledge city” with social challenges, panel co-chair Mayor Bas Verkerk, Delft, the Netherlands, introduced education, job shadowing and technology access efforts. Mayor Carolina Tohá Morales, Santiago de Chile, Chile, supported facilitating an inclusive social agenda through, inter alia, housing policies to reduce segregation and transportation policies that prioritize public transport, walking and cycling.

Deputy Mayor Gábor Bagdy, Budapest, Hungary, pointed to the importance of public service affordability and discussed his city’s employment programmes. Mayor Fernando Haddad, São Paulo, Brazil, said free time was crucial for sustainability, health and quality of life, noting the value of reducing commuting time by improving public transportation. Xavier Trías, Mayor of Barcelona, Spain, identified cooperation across sectors in a city and making governments credible to citizens as central for generating “smart” and equitable cities. Deputy Mayor Bing Lu, Nanjing, China, highlighted his city’s investments in public transportation.

The second panel, co-chaired by Claudia Restrepo, Vice Mayor of Medellín, Colombia, and Parks Tau, Mayor of Johannesburg, South Africa, focused on urban planning and design, finance, legislation and governance.

Restrepo underscored the need for indicators and measurements for global efforts to evaluate sustainable urbanization. Tau outlined his city’s financial strategy to scale up investments in infrastructure and sustainability.

Mayor Lene Conradi, Asker, Norway, encouraged public participation in Habitat III. Deputy Mayor Yun-Ock Cho, Seoul, South Korea, described the inclusion of women’s perspectives in Seoul’s urban policies. Lauding Medellín for its social cohesion efforts, Mayor Naasson Kubuya Ndoole, Goma, DRC, said Goma, a post-conflict city, could learn from Medellín’s experiences.

Mayor Aysen Nikolaev, Yakutsk, Russia, highlighted citizen participation, including in developing financial solutions, as his government’s most valuable resource. Paul Carrasco, Governor of Azuay, Ecuador, called for “urban democracy” through citizen participation in decision-making, which he said would contribute to creating conditions for happiness.

Mayor Héctor Robles, Zapopan, Mexico, emphasized the role of public spaces in improving social cohesion and urged addressing this issue in Habitat III.

In closing, Joan Clos, UN-Habitat, encouraged local governments to work with national governments to develop proposals for Habitat III. He reminded participants that urban equity cannot be achieved by local authorities alone, as many of the resources needed for social development come from central governments.

Universities Addressing Global Challenges Roundtable: This roundtable on Thursday afternoon gathered scholars, experts, researchers, university representatives and UN-Habitat staff to discuss the possible contributions of universities to addressing the challenges of sustainable urbanization in the 21st century.

Lilia Blades, UN-Habitat, discussed the UN-Habitat Partner University Initiative, noting it promoted cooperation between UN-Habitat and universities, enabling the latter to translate theory into practice and become “closer partners” with cities.

Michael Cohen, The New School, US, called for a new academic practice for conceptualizing and teaching urban issues and for a new kind of urban development. He stressed the importance of recognizing the economic basis of cities and called for more academic evaluations of cities, including of their urban policies and plans, by resident universities.

Ana Falu, National University of Córdoba, Argentina, stressed the importance of assessing the work on urban issues by universities and other actors. She noted that the Gender Hub looked at theoretical concepts that could transform cities, including: violence and safety; access to public spaces; and environmental sustainability and natural disasters.

Eugenie Birch, University of Pennsylvania and World Urban Campaign Steering Committee, described UN-Habitat University Network Initiative’s “Global Urban Lectures,” which she said offered free lectures by both academics and practitioners on urban issues.

René Peter Hohmann, Cities Alliance Secretariat, said urbanization was “not an urban issue” but was instead about transforming cities, economies and relationships between cities and rural areas, which required a multi-disciplinary approach.

Jorge Iván Bula, National University, Colombia, stressed the need for universities to develop the multi-disciplinary skills required to deal with the ecological, economic and social crises facing cities.

Irene Karanja, Muungana Support Trust, Kenya, called for community involvement in universities’ urban data gathering efforts.

Hans Skotte, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said the work of universities needed to be more relevant to the challenges facing humanity.

In the ensuing discussion, participants highlighted the need for: truly inter-disciplinary approaches to tackle urban issues; educating peers about the importance of inter-disciplinary student collaboration in community projects; university engagement with community leaders to ensure the social relevance of academic teaching and research; enhancing collaboration by matching universities with appropriate community projects; and a universal development framework for all cities, not just developing country cities. They also spoke on the role of universities in building social capital in slum and other communities, the importance of “greening” universities to educate students about sustainability challenges, and the contribution of academia to the post-2015 development agenda debate by addressing, for instance, concerns about the urban-rural dichotomy.

Habitat Professionals Forum Roundtable: This roundtable on Thursday afternoon featured architects, landscape architects, planners and other human settlements professionals who debated the components of a vision for the new urban agenda. Panelists agreed on the need to rethink urban systems to respond to global financial, technological, social and environmental challenges.

Panelists considered, inter alia, the role of habitat professionals in changing and designing urban spaces, including by making cities that “look good and work better.” One panelist commented on the abilities of architects to listen to people, act as catalysts, offer tools for change, promote environmental sustainability, draw on heritage and understand the “spirit of places.”

Several speakers highlighted the value of reaching out to professionals and urban actors beyond planning and design experts. Calling for greater participation, notably among the urban poor, an urban planner described slum dwellers as natural “bottom-up planners” and informal settlements as the “mixed-use economic spaces that planners seek.” Audience comments recognized that while many challenges remain, including the lack of provision of basic services, slums also represent a new form of “collaborative architecture” designed by and for local people. One self-proclaimed “architect-activist” called for a “people-centered” multi-disciplinary approach focused on building trust and listening to communities.

An urban health researcher highlighted the need to make health an explicit goal in the dialogue on sustainable cities and representatives from academia highlighted current university involvement in urban health initiatives.

On land use and planning, one professional called for reconsidering the idea of sustainable development, calling it “deeply contradictory” in the context of finite land. Noting rapid urban expansion has encroached on farmland and natural areas, a landscape planner called for an inverse phenomenon to bring environmental services and green spaces back into cities to build “a natural continuum between wild, rural and urban landscapes.”

Drawing a distinction between the “micro-urban” space of individuals in an urban environment and the wider urban footprint of the “macro-urban” space, a planning expert urged making “the urbanite, not the car” the focus of urban design. Another cautioned against focusing on individuals, pointing to competition as a cause of urban segregation, and urged instead for cooperation and collective goals to underpin the new urban agenda.

Participants highlighted the changing conditions of the global economy, including rising energy prices and growing debt, with one advocating for radical change in global consumption and development patterns. Another made a similar call for new social and economic paradigms to underpin the new urban agenda.

Audience comments addressed, inter alia, the need to: prepare architecture students for practical challenges; connect housing in periphery areas to places of employment in cities; improve equity and service provision by perceiving cities and rural areas as interconnected communities; focus on happiness; and learn from Medellín’s success in gaining credibility with its citizens and in building local civic pride.

Indigenous Peoples Roundtable: Moderating the roundtable on Friday afternoon, Chandra Roy-Henriksen, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, emphasized the need to place indigenous people more prominently in the urban and housing discussion,

Maria Eugenia Choque Quispe, World Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, stated that while it is often assumed indigenous people only live in rural areas, they have a strong presence in many cities. Acknowledging historic challenges such as racism and exploitation of traditional lands, along with ongoing discrimination, Quispe said urban indigenous people often lack equal access to health care, basic services and education. She highlighted positive changes, including the renaming of urban neighborhoods in traditional languages and the celebration of indigenous festivals and spirituality, which she said lead to improved self-esteem and pride, especially among young people.

Jaime Erazo Espinosa, College of Mexico, Mexico, described a research project that examined the housing conditions and situation of urbanized indigenous people living in the capital cities of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. The study examined, inter alia: the challenges indigenous peoples faced; whether housing was adequate; applicable housing laws and policies; and alternatives for adequate urban housing for indigenous people.

Ralph Horne, RMIT University, Australia, presented research investigating the ways indigenous Australians living in housing projects across Australia could adapt to a changing climate, noting some of these communities had been affected by climate change. He presented study conclusions, including the need to create green spaces around homes to deter indigenous communities from staying indoors and to examine the drivers of behavior, such as energy consumption patterns, without assuming behavior is based on culture.

Following panelist presentations, the audience addressed several issues, inter alia: the impacts of environmental change, such as climate change, on migration patterns; how indigenous knowledge in construction and landscaping could support more sustainable urban design; the need to recognize other minority groups, such as African-Colombians; and the prioritization of mineral exploitation over indigenous land rights.

In closing, panelists commented on, inter alia:the role of researchers in documenting the potential contributions of traditional knowledge to sustainable urbanization; the need to recognize political frameworks supporting indigenous peoples’ rights to the city; and how indigenous women’s spiritual connection to the earth could help build better cities.

Roy-Henriksen closed the session, recommending indigenous peoples’ concerns be strengthened within UN-Habitat’s Global Housing Strategy and feature prominently in Habitat III.

Gender and Women Roundtable: On Friday afternoon, participants discussed the need for linkages between gender equality, women’s empowerment and urbanization for a new urban agenda.

UN-Habitat Deputy Executive Director Aisa Kirabo Kacyira stressed the need to enhance urban policies and practices that include all citizens and ensure equal access to resources and services. She called for stand-alone SDGs on gender equality and women’s empowerment and on cities and sustainable urban development.

Maria Eugenia Olarte, Colombian Ambassador to Kenya, noted advances toward gender equality in many countries in the past century, with many women successfully challenging unjust power relationships and discriminatory laws. She urged for the inclusion of a gender perspective both in the new urban agenda and in the post-2015 development agenda framework.

Haydee Rodríguez, Union of Women’s Cooperatives of Las Brumas, described the passage of a law protecting women’s equality in San Salvador, El Salvador, but lamented its lack of implementation, particularly in cases of land tenure claims. She called for alliances and partnerships in order to open space for women in municipal land use planning.

Ruth Odinga, Deputy Governor, Kisumu County, Kenya, described the frequent “physical and psychological” intimidation of women standing for elected office in Kenya, which often results in women withdrawing from politics. She called for women in elected positions to mentor and support other women in order to empower them and improve gender equality in politics.

H.R.H. Princess Abze Djigma, AbzeSolar, Burkina Faso, described her experiences founding a company that installs solar-powered lighting in communities in West Africa. She stressed the need for policies in every sector that “highlight women and empower them to grow.”

Noting women’s particular and ongoing vulnerability to urban violence, Marisol Dalmazzo, Latin America Women and Habitat Network, highlighted efforts that could help counter these threats, including a focus on gender in policies for land planning, public transportation and access to housing and services.

Inés Sánchez de Madariaga, State Secretariat for Research, Development and Innovation, Spain, outlined advances in analyzing gender-segregated data in cities, but urged further work on a gender approach to information collection. As an example, she noted that transportation studies on commuting rarely include time spent in transit by women for purposes of household tasks and community care.

Carmen Lomellin, US Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States, advocated for a focus on education for women and girls, stating that “when you educate a man, you educate a man, but when you educate a woman, you educate a family.” She called for a stand-alone SDG for the empowerment of women and girls.


From Tuesday, 8 April through Friday, 11 April, participants gathered for a High-level UN Inter-agency Meeting and eight other special sessions on: financing a new urban agenda; South-South and triangular cooperation; the post-2015 development agenda; urban data for the new urban agenda; the World Urban Campaign; Medellín: a city for life; lessons from Medellín to the regions of Antioquia; and the challenges for territorial policy in Colombia. This report features four of these special sessions and provides summaries of all the special sessions discussed in plenary.

Financing a New Urban Agenda: This session, convened on Tuesday afternoon, focused on the challenge of finding adequate financing for sustainable urbanization, with panelists responding to a number of questions posed by the moderator and audience.

Noting that the meaning of the word “sustainable” has changed over time, Zoubida Allaoua, World Bank, said the Bank could leverage knowledge and financial assistance for sustainable urbanization, including for investments in “transformational infrastructure” such as hydroelectric dams.

Discussing the new urban agenda, Johannes Hahn, European Commission, stressed the need for local ownership of urban development projects and called for project co-financing and policy implementation by companies with an interest in urban markets.

Luis Alberto Moreno, Inter-American Development Bank, said crime and wide social disparities were among the main challenges facing Latin America as a result of rapid urbanization.

Shaun Donovan, US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said poverty and inequality were not only a human but also an economic tragedy in his country. He identified citizen skepticism as a key challenge for social investments, noting the need for indicators that demonstrate the savings they generate.

Anne Paugam, French Development Agency (AFD), explained that about half of AFD’s funding was targeted for urban development and infrastructure, but added that local and other resources were needed to bridge funding gaps.

Noting the need to eliminate the existing divide between rich and poor neighborhoods, José Carrera, Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), identified education as one of the main tools available for reducing inequalities.

Several panelists underscored the importance of local project ownership through financial and in-kind contributions, as well as the need for projects to not be stand-alone initiatives but to be embedded in a broader urban strategy. Public investments in rural areas were also considered as part of urban development strategies, in view of the movement of people between rural and urban areas.

Panelists discussed strategies for improving local governments’ access to financing, including through training on “credit-worthiness,” building technical skills for tax collection and revenue management and promoting local banks. Several speakers discussed land value and its role in urban pricing, development and financing. Donovan said value capture could be a powerful political tool, provided affordable housing and transport options were required in real estate development. Carerra highlighted that people lacking secure land tenure may not be able to benefit from higher land value and Allaoua said social and environmental costs could ensue from using land to finance urban infrastructure expansion.

South-South and Triangular Cooperation: This session on Tuesday afternoon was moderated by Mark Eddo, Mark Eddo Media.

Juanita Olarte Suescún, Colombian Presidential Agency of International Co-operation, stated that benefits of South-South cooperation included sharing Southern-grown technical solutions, best practices and know-how in key areas. She urged incorporating South-South cooperation into traditional schemes and creating instruments to assess its impacts.

Xavier de Souza Briggs, Ford Foundation, said that knowledge, commitment and capability were key requirements to improve cooperation, emphasizing the need to consider the role of different types of networks and the agendas and interests of new actors such as bilateral development banks from the South.

Akon Eyakenyi, Minister of Land, Housing and Urban Development, Nigeria, stated that intra- and inter-regional cooperation and innovative financing mechanisms were needed to address the challenges of rapid urbanization in the South.

Hubert Julien Laferriere, Grand Lyon, France, said it was difficult to discuss post-2015 SDGs without engaging local and regional authorities. He encouraged cities to engage in conversations and network with other cities. He identified the need for work with capital cities, cities in shared metropolitan regions and across countries and for South-South cooperation between cities with common challenges.

Michèle Raymond, Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Group of States, underscored that South-South cooperation was increasingly relevant and outlined examples of donor country support and South-South city-to-city learning. She shared lessons from Latin American cities on, inter alia, social inclusion, rural to urban migration, slum upgrading, safety and security.

UN-Habitat Deputy Executive Director Aisa Kirabo Kacyira emphasized the role of UN-Habitat in spearheading South-South cooperation, especially in countries where capacity is limited. She called on delegates to provide key messages to bring South-South cooperation forward within Habitat III and the post-2015 development agenda.

The panel debate emphasized, inter alia, the need for: cooperation to integrate slum communities into the larger urban fabric; inclusive economic growth; finance and support for urban climate resilience; and tools to build the capacities of local governments and communities.

Responding to comments, panelists discussed the importance of: “meaningful inclusion” of young people in South-South cooperation; corporate social responsibility, in particular for companies operating in the resource extraction sector in the South; building consumer awareness in the North and South; and South-South learning and dialogue to support people with disabilities.

Post-2015 Development Agenda: This session on Wednesday afternoon focused on the role of sustainable urbanization in the post-2015 development agenda, including the SDGs. Raf Tuts, UN-Habitat, stressed that a unique window of opportunity exists for including sustainable urban development in the SDGs, warning that a lack of action might mean “locking cities into unsustainable patterns.”

Paula Caballero Gómez, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Colombia, said the SDGs could be powerful tools for “structural, deep and lasting” transformation. She expressed support for an SDG on cities and suggested that the SDGs adopt an integrative approach to tackling cross-cutting, long-term issues.

Franz Marr, Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany, stressed the importance of including an urban SDG on sustainable and inclusive cities in the post-2015 development agenda, noting that such a goal would be “truly global and inclusive in nature and relevant to all countries.”

Cynthia Rosenzweig, Columbia University, said the world urgently needed an SDG on cities. She said the Sustainable Development Solutions Network had identified social inclusion, economic prosperity, a healthy environment, resilience to shocks and safety as key elements for such a goal, as well as the need to develop metrics to measure progress and recognize the role of national governments in devising the “big picture” for cities.

Maruxa Cardama, Communitas, said that an urban SDG had to be both universal and measurable, prompt transformational change in one generation and plant seeds for future change. She said Communitas had identified as key target areas, inter alia: slum conditions and housing; inclusive territorial planning; universal access to affordable and sustainable public services; safe public spaces; and resilience.

Responding to comments, panelists emphasized, inter alia, the importance of: prompting new partnerships between different levels of government; supporting capacity building for successful decentralization; devising a universal urban agenda of livelihoods and lifestyles; and including happiness indicators at the city scale. Panelists urged using metrics, baselines and disaggregated data to measure progress and ensuring that metrics measure what matters to human life, as well as building the statistical capacities of countries to enable them to understand trade-offs and allocate resources effectively. They further encouraged: addressing youth unemployment in urban centers; ensuring private sector participation in the SDGs; acknowledging the urban-rural nexus; and recognizing risks posed to natural resources and biodiversity by urbanization.

World Urban Campaign: Towards a New Urban Paradigm: On Wednesday afternoon, Nicholas You, World Urban Campaign Steering Committee, presented the document “The City We Need” as a response to “The Future We Want,” and as a contribution to the Habitat III and post-2015 development agenda processes, urging that cities must be socially inclusive, regenerative and safe. The session included keynote speakers and two panels discussing how catalytic partnerships, policy and governance could contribute to a new urban paradigm.

Taliana Vargas, Goodwill Ambassador of UN-Habitat, shared her experiences from Santa Marta, Colombia, as part of the “I’m a City Changer Campaign.” Thirteen-year-old Carolina Jaramillo, Medellín, Colombia, presented outcomes from the Children’s Assembly, highlighting the need for adults to listen to children.

Underscoring the need to “re-think, re-imagine and re-engineer” cities, Eugenie Birch, World Urban Campaign Steering Committee, characterized slums, the lack of core infrastructure and basic services and the shortage of safe and affordable housing as “global embarrassments.”

In the first panel, featuring World Urban Campaign partners, Urban Private Partners highlighted private sector strengths such as innovation, resilience and a focus on action. For planning a sustainable future for cities, ISOCARP urged for greater engagement of diverse voices, along with consistent and regular interactions among stakeholders to support collective coalition building. Identifying the need for inclusive development, SDI introduced a mapping and data collection exercise that involved local people in over 7,000 communities. Stating that women are not just victims but also agents of urban change, Huairou Commission called for formalized partnerships with grassroots women’s organizations. The UN-Habitat Youth Advisory Board described youth engagement strategies including “invading” global gatherings, using online platforms and social media to build a global dialogue, and crafting partnerships with national, regional and local initiatives. Habitat for Humanity International characterized safe, stable and tenure-secure housing as a critical foundation of a dignified family life.

In the second panel, stating “there is no higher or lower governance,” United Cities and Local Governments welcomed dialogue on urban governance and partnerships, referring to cities as places to empower citizens in a new form of participatory governance. Global Parliamentarians on Habitat discussed the role of parliamentarians in facilitating policy and legislative change to support sustainable urbanization, underscoring the importance of political will.

Referring to multiple challenges affecting cities, UN-Habitat Executive Director Joan Clos acknowledged growing public support to build better cities, lauding the “I’m a City Changer Campaign” and the actions of cities and mayors. He called for a return to a “utopian view of cities,” instead of just a utopian view of buildings.


Five plenary sessions were held during WUF7, following the parallel roundtable and special sessions each day from Tuesday, 8 April, to Friday, 11 April.

Tuesday morning plenary: In the morning on Tuesday, participants convened in plenary to hear back from the roundtable discussions.

From the Mayors roundtable, Claudia Restrepo, Vice-Mayor of Medellín, Colombia, highlighted, inter alia, that the generation and improvement of public spaces contributes to equity and must be part of the new urban agenda.

Reporting on discussions in the Ministerial roundtable, Luis Felipe Henao, Minister of Housing, City and Territory, Colombia, stressed the need for coordinated city and national government policies for urban development to help create social cohesion, improve citizen security and facilitate the access of marginalized populations to decent housing and services.

Peter Goetz, President of Global Parliamentarians on Habitat, said the Global Parliamentarians roundtable had stressed the need to, inter alia: support inclusive cities with equitable services; empower local governing bodies; encourage future planning; create informed citizens; and understand linkages between the local, regional, national and international levels.

Jonathan Reckford, Habitat for Humanity International, said the Civil Society Organizations roundtable had identified critical elements for the Habitat III agenda and the SDGs process, including: full civil society participation in implementation and agenda-setting; ensuring access to land tenure; mapping of and adoption of targets for slums; and clear implementation plans.

In the ensuing discussion, participants emphasized, inter alia, the need to: provide basic services and opportunities for people living in rural areas; ensure that debt from social housing programmes was low and predictable; and measure success in terms of happiness.

Tuesday afternoon plenary: On Tuesday afternoon, participants met in plenary to consider the outcomes of three special sessions and one roundtable.

Fabrizio Hochschild, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Colombia, summarized the outcomes of the UN High-level Inter-agency Meeting, which aimed to build political and substantive support for Habitat III and the new urban agenda. He reported on key points made during the session, including, inter alia, that: most UN agencies already engage directly or indirectly in urban issues; a successful Habitat III process requires a multi-stakeholder approach; and the debate on equity and inclusion should be framed using a rights-based approach.

On the Special Session on Financing the New Urban Agenda, José Carrera, Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), noted discussions focused on the need to invest in social and physical infrastructure and improve local governments’ capacity to encourage investment. He said innovative financing options had been identified, including local public-private partnerships, land value capture and co-financing through synergies between lending organizations.

Mark Eddo, Mark Eddo Media, highlighted issues addressed in the South-South and Triangular Cooperation Special Session, including: the need for increased South-South information and knowledge sharing; financing; and the need to identify new players who could help build more equitable cities, including new bilateral development banks and youth.

Tim Campbell, Urban Age Institute, outlined key issues from the Private Sector roundtable including, inter alia: the need for clear government rules, stability, certainty and a long-term vision to facilitate private sector involvement in building sustainable and equitable cities; the role of information technology in informing the public to make better choices; the need to make more efficient use of resources and services to, for instance, reduce waste generation and water losses; and the need for cities to adopt a step-wise approach when facing massive urbanization challenges.

Wednesday afternoon plenary: On Wednesday afternoon, participants met in plenary to address the outcomes of four special sessions.

Eugenie Birch, World Urban Campaign Steering Committee, reflected on the World Urban Campaign discussion, explaining the Campaign is an advocacy effort to support the development of sustainable cities. She noted the session addressed how to build catalytic partnerships to promote urban transformations.

On the session “Medellín: A City for Life,” which discussed the principles and policies behind Medellín’s urban transformation over past decades, Deputy Mayor Claudia Patricia Restrepo, Medellín, Colombia, cited violence and inequity as Medellín’s biggest past and present challenges. She described the principles guiding the city’s ongoing transformation, including the idea that cities are transformed by their citizens.

In the Post-2015 Development Agenda session, Maruxa Cardama, Communitas, noted that a consensus was emerging among member states on the need for an urban SDG to capitalize on the opportunities cities offer to eradicate poverty, halt inequality and achieve sustainable human development. She invited participants to join the ongoing conversation on the SDGs beyond WUF7 and to consider partnerships for sustainable urbanization action for the Habitat III process.

Xiaomei Tan, Global Environment Facility (GEF), summarized the session on Urban Data for the New Urban Agenda, and outlined the key points: that urban data could facilitate better decision-making and investment returns; the need for multidisciplinary data at the strategic and project levels, while considering privacy and data security issues; and that institutional fragmentation could limit reliable data-gathering abilities.

Following the summaries, panelists discussed what would constitute a universal SDG on sustainable cities, remarking on, inter alia: participatory land use planning; national urban policies; and whether the focus should be on targets and indicators to measure progress or on general commitments to the “principle of the sustainable city.” Audience questions addressed youth involvement, urban-rural interdependence and leveraging private sector financing for cities. Participants also discussed the urban challenges of drug trafficking, corruption and achieving meaningful public participation.

Thursday afternoon plenary: On Thursday afternoon, participants met in plenary to address the outcomes of three roundtables and one special session.

On the Habitat Professionals Forum roundtable, Louise Cox, International Union of Architects, highlighted that habitat professionals must seek out broad community involvement in developing a new urban paradigm for healthy, ecologically resilient, safe and “people-centered” cities.

Jeroen Verplanke, University of Twente, the Netherlands, said the Universities roundtable discussion underscored the need for a multi-disciplinary approach to research and addressed barriers universities face in participating in policy-making and partnerships.

From the Urban Researchers roundtable, Caroline Moser, University of Manchester, UK, highlighted the tension between policymakers’ demand for short-term results and the need for longer-term, cross-sectional, complex research studies. Cautioning that “the same data can say different things,” she called for more data collection and for ensuring private interests do not co-opt research.

Federico Restrepo Posada, Integral Project for the Development of Urabá, Colombia, outlined discussions from the special session “From Medellín to the regions of Antioquia,” including that the urbanization agenda was the basis of regional development. He reported that urban interventions focused on serving voters did not target the poorest areas, because the poor tend not to vote.

In the ensuing discussion, participants considered, inter alia: the need to prioritize interventions in the poorest communities, where the greatest quality of life improvements could be made; how different measurements of poverty could acknowledge local value and resources; the “urbanist” as a multidisciplinary profession; and the need to translate academic knowledge into common language.

Friday afternoon plenary: On Friday afternoon, participants met in plenary to hear from roundtable and special session moderators, as well as an address by Angelino Garzón, Vice President, Colombia.

João Felipe Scarpellini, Youth and Community Empowerment Specialist, Brazil, outlined issues discussed during the Youth Roundtable, including, inter alia: mechanisms for youth engagement in decision-making; a possible declaration of youth rights; the integration of youth into the Habitat III process; and a stand-alone SDG on youth.

Maria Eugenia Choque Quispe, World Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, outlined recommendations from the Indigenous Peoples Roundtable, including, inter alia, the need to see indigenous peoples as partners in defining the urban agenda and to support socially and culturally appropriate housing for indigenous peoples built using traditional materials and knowledge. She added that for indigenous peoples, sustainable development requires a focus on collective rights, identity and spirituality.

Maité Rodríguez Blandón, Guatemala Foundation, stated the Gender and Women’s Roundtable discussion stressed the need for gender equity to build safe, inclusive prosperous and sustainable cities.

Guillermo Herrera Castaño, Vice Minister of Housing, City and Territory, Colombia, shared the conclusions of the special session on Cities for Equity: The Challenges for Territorial Policy in Colombia, particularly the need for social integration at all levels. He described a free housing initiative in Colombia aimed at mitigating the urban housing deficit.

Garzón said the best way to govern a country is to work “hand in hand” with local and regional authorities. He suggested priorities to support “cities for life” such as: a zero tolerance corruption policy; investments in education, health and water access; and policies supporting gender equity, environmental protection and inclusion of youth, indigenous and minority groups.


During the closing ceremony on Friday, participants watched a video presenting a youth vision for new, equitable and sustainable cities. Awards were then presented to the winners of the 2013 UN-Habitat Scroll of Honor Award and the 2013-2014 World Habitat Awards.

Aníbal Gaviria, Mayor of Medellín, said the greatest achievement of WUF7 had been the placement of equity at the center of the urbanization debate, as the world was paying a high price for prevailing high levels of inequality. “Cities for life,” he suggested, put people first and considered what was important to them. Stressing the need to move from theory to action, he invited UN-Habitat and large foundations in attendance at WUF7 to partner with Medellín in choosing three cities in Colombia, Latin America and Africa, respectively, where his city’s successful experiences could be replicated.

Governor Sergio Fajardo, Antioquia, Colombia, thanked WUF7 participants for visiting Medellín, a “landmark city” of Antioquia that is representative of Colombia’s diversity. Noting that “anything urban is an expression of politics,” he urged for more transparent, trustworthy and uncorrupt political systems to build more just and equitable cities.

Luis Felipe Henao, Minister of Housing, City and Territory, Colombia, read the WUF7 Declaration of Medellín in which participants commit, inter alia, to promoting equitable and sustainable urban development and to working to ensure cities become inclusive and prosperous for all.

Stating that this was the “best World Urban Forum ever,” UN-Habitat Executive Director Joan Clos expressed his appreciation for Medellín’s “warm welcome.” He lauded the city’s creative, innovative and genuine methods to overcome problems, expressing hope that other cities would follow suit in moving towards a new urban agenda. Stating that there cannot be “transformative sustainable development without sustainable urbanization,” he acknowledged that during the WUF7 sessions, many important associations and stakeholders had called for a standalone SDG on cities and human settlements in the post-2015 development agenda.

Participants joined in when youth organizers sang at the end of the closing ceremony. WUF7 closed at 7:30pm.

WUF7 Declaration of Medellín: The Declaration recognizes the transformational power of cities and states that equity is the foundation of sustainable urban development. Calling for cities to become more inclusive and prosperous for all, the Declaration identifies as important issues, inter alia, the need for: an urbanization model that puts people first and fosters social cohesion, especially among socially marginalized groups such as women, youth and indigenous peoples; comprehensive and participatory planning; national urban policies; gender equality and balanced land development; better urban resilience to climate change and other disasters; and safe and affordable transportation. The Declaration recognizes the post-2015 development agenda, SDGs and Habitat III processes as opportunities to affirm the importance of well-planned cities and the potential for urbanization to be a positive force for present and future generations.


OWG-11: The OWG will continue its consideration of SDGs, targets and indicators. dates: 5-9 May 2014 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development phone: +1-212-963-8102 fax: +1-212-963-4260 email: www:

UNGA High-level Event: Contributions of South-South, North-South and triangular cooperation and information and communication technologies for development to the post-2015 development agenda: This event is part of a series convened by the President of the UN General Assembly under the theme, “The post-2015 Development Agenda: Setting the Stage!” Its objective is to generate concrete contributions to the formulation of the SDGs. dates: 20-21 May 2014 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: Office of President of the General Assembly www:

Resilient Cities 2014: This Annual Global Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation is the global platform for urban resilience and climate change adaptation, coordinated by ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability. The congress offers a number of sessions and events on a wide range of topics including urban risk, resilient urban logistics, financing, urban agriculture and smart infrastructure. Resilient Cities also supports the annual Bonn Declaration of Mayors written by local leaders during the Mayors Adaptation Forum, organized with the World Mayors Council on Climate Change. dates: 29-31 May 2014 location: Bonn, Germany phone: +49–(0)228 / 976 299-28 email: www:

UNGA High-level Event: Human Rights and the Rule of Law in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: This event is part of a series convened by the President of the UN General Assembly under the theme, “The post-2015 Development Agenda: Setting the Stage!” Its objective is to generate concrete contributions to the formulation of the SDGs. dates: 17-18 June 2014 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: Office of President of the General Assembly www:

2014 Substantive Session of ECOSOC: The 2014 substantive session of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will include a High-level Segment, as well as the second meeting of the High-level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF). The HLPF meeting—taking place from 30 June-3 July—will include a three-day ministerial segment and is expected to adopt a negotiated declaration. The ECOSOC High-level Segment will take place on 7-11 July and is expected to devote three days to the HLPF. dates: 23 June - 18 July 2014 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: ECOSOC Secretariat email: www: and

Fifth Session of Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing: The fifth session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing (ICSDF) is scheduled for August 2014. dates: 4-8 August 2014 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development fax: +1-212-963-4260 email: dsd@un.orgwww:

Habitat III: Habitat III, the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, will be one of the first global conferences after the establishment of the post-2015 development agenda. It will bring together governments, local authorities, civil society, the private sector, academic institutions and others to discuss and chart new pathways in response to the challenges of urbanization, and to generate a “New Urban Agenda.” dates: 2016 location: to be determined www:

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