“You must start acting as soon as you return home!” Katowice’s Mayor Marcin Krupa added a sense of urgency to the discussions on the last day of WUF11 encouraging participants to use what they have learned to spark sustainable urban transformations in their home cities. The Forum’s final sessions provided ample opportunities to do so.
The Special Session on People-Centered and Green Technology and Innovation focused on how smart cities can generate inclusive change, with speakers underlining how local governments could use new international guidelines in the matter. The Dialogue on Greener Urban Futures addressed synergies between the urban and climate global agendas, and highlighted cities’ key role in meeting climate targets.
Trade Union and Workers Roundtable participants called for re-municipalizing services that have been privatized, including health care, highlighted core principles of just transition, and emphasized that unions should be “systematically” included in the UN-Habitat processes.
During the Dialogue on Transforming Cities Through Innovative Solutions and Technologies, panelists stressed the importance of: closing digital divides, including divides affecting people with disabilities; putting people, rather than technology first; establishing technology standards and ethical decision making; and aligning technology with cultural identities.
The Civil Society and Grassroots Organizations Roundtable featured speakers with long histories in community organization and grassroots work. They spoke of their experiences with the shrinking space for grassroots organizations, but highlighted WUF as an opportunity to reflect on what more can be done, including how to “kick open the doors” for others too. Themes of partnership, capacity building, co-creation, and action featured heavily among the discussions.
At the closing ceremony, Małgorzata Jarosińska-Jedynak, Ministry of Funds and Regional Policy, Poland, highlighted that WUF11 was hosted in ways that align with sustainable urban development goals, including unprecedented accessibility for people with disabilities. She said that WUF11 enables “bold steps,” not just planning, for sustainable urban futures. UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif noted the COVID-19 pandemic proved our capacity for short-term radical change, but warned we need to develop our ability to deliver long-term and sustainable change. She listed the effects of crises on our urban environments, including the need to mitigate their impacts and build collaboratively for a sustainable future. Congratulating Egypt on being chosen as the host of WUF12, she noted the need to invest “clearly and immediately” to implement the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and achieve the 169 targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during “the 2,742 days” we have left to do so.
Marcin Krupa, Mayor of Katowice, highlighted the significance of WUF11 for the city of Katowice. Nuno Gomes Nabiam, Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau, noted the need to transfer technology and know-how to regions most vulnerable to climate change, such as his country, including in the field of urban resilience. Collen Vixen Kelapile, Un Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), highlighted core themes, including: people-centered policies that meet the needs of the most vulnerable populations; coordination across stakeholders and levels of government; and the role of women in meeting sustainable urbanization goals.
Martha Delgado, President of the UN-Habitat Assembly, presented the WUF11 DeclarACTION, which, inter alia:
- calls for more international collective actions to support implementation of the NUA as a roadmap for accelerating sustainable development, climate action, and building peace;
- states a concern for the lack of progress toward the SDGs;
- urges moving from incrementalism towards fundamental shifts in urban environments;
- stresses the need to focus on increasingly imminent urban crises;
- affirms culture as an integral part of meeting urban challenges; and
- highlights accessibility and universal design as part of transformative action.
Two Polish youth then thanked WUF organizers for championing accessibility and the involvement of young people, and called for these elements to remain focal points in urban development.
In a handover ceremony, Jarosińska-Jedynak passed the WUF baton to Mahmoud Shaarawy, Minister of Local Development, Egypt. Shaarawy said he hoped to welcome participants in Sharm-el-Sheikh for the UN Climate Change Conference and in Cairo for WUF12, noting the latter would be the first since WUF1 to take place in an African city. Mohd Sharif declared WUF11 closed at 18:18, after which Shaarawy and Mohd Sharif signed the WUF12 agreement.