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WUF11 closes with calls for urgent urban action

30. jun 2022.

After five days of debate and discussion, with 400 events featuring 700 speakers from government, civil society, communities, academia and the private sector, the Eleventh Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF11) in Katowice, Poland closed. New friendships and partnerships were formed, new agreements reached and bold ideas formulated among the 17,003 people from 155 countries who attended WUF11.

Fotografija: © 11th World Urban Forum

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

“What we have witnessed here was a rich experience with many inspiring topics,” he said. “I am extremely proud that Cairo is the first African city to stage the World Urban Forum since Nairobi staged the first event in 2002.”

The enthusiasm generated by participants throughout WUF11 was however balanced by warnings that there could be no further delays in taking urgent action to deliver sustainable urbanization, given the multiple crises confronting world cities. 

Addressing the closing ceremony in the Spodek Arena, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, said: “The climate emergency, pandemics, the housing crisis, violence and conflict, all converge in cities.

“If we want to transform to a better urban future, we will have to increasingly deal with urban crises. We have no excuse not to be prepared.

“We don’t have much time to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal targets of 2030. We have only 7.5 years, 90 months or 2,742 days left to implement the New Urban Agenda in order to achieve the SDGs. So, what shall we do? The time to act is now.”

Ms Sharif announced that the global observance of the World Habitat Day this year will be on 3 October in Belkiser, Turkey.  She also opened a call for the expression of interest to host the World Urban Forum in 2026.

The Executive Director warmly thanked Małgorzata Jarosińska-Jedynak, State Secretary at Poland’s Ministry of Regional Development and Funds, Marcin Krupa, the Mayor of Katowice, and the local organising committee. 

“The Government of Poland as well as the city of Katowice have exceeded all expectations helping us make WUF11 a most memorable and accessible event,” she said.

Ms Jarosińska-Jedynak responded that WUF11’S Declared Actions must be a basis for action. “This is the time for bold steps and bold action,” she said. “The World Urban Forum has given us energy and enthusiasm to push for change in our cities for a better future.”

Speakers acknowledged the special Urban Crises Track created at WUF11 on responses to conflict and disaster, prompted by the conflict in neighbouring Ukraine, and Poland’s hospitality to an estimated three million Ukrainian refugees.

The Executive Director thanked the President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, H.E. Collen Kelapile, for leading the Group of Friends of Sustainable Urbanisation and UN-Habitat in New York, which is putting its full weight behind the New Urban Agenda. 

She acknowledged the contributions of H.E Madame Martha Delgado, President of the UN-Habitat Assembly and Co-Chair of the Advisory Group, for her work to bring the key messages from all the constituencies of WUF11 to the UN-Habitat Assembly next year.

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United Nations Human Settlements Programme
United Nations

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