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WUF11 closes with calls for urgent urban action

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.

WUF11 closes with calls for urgent urban action

Originally posted by UN-Habitat on 1 July 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.

Photo: IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN-Habitat Executive Director

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.

IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera, Martha Delgado, President of the United Nations Habitat Assembly at the World Urban Forum 11

Photo: IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera, Martha Delgado, President of the United Nations Habitat Assembly at WUF11

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.”

IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera, Mahmoud Shaarawy, Minister of Local Development, Egypt, and Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN-Habitat Executive Director, sign the WUF12 agreement

Photo: IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera, Mahmoud Shaarawy, Minister of Local Development, Egypt, and Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN-Habitat Executive Director, sign the WUF12 agreement

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.

Retrieved from https://wuf.unhabitat.org/news/wuf11-closes-calls-urgent-urban-action

Now is the time to transform national urban policies into local action

Laura Puttkamer concludes URBANET’s spotlight on the eleventh session of the World Urban Forum. Three Cs dominated this year’s World Urban Forum: climate, conflict and Covid-19. More than 16,000 urban planners, academics, NGO members and other city enthusiasts signed up to participate in the 11th World Urban Forum, held in Katowice, Poland. The event culminated in the Katowice Declared Actions. According to Ms Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, “this document shows our willingness to take a stand. Cities are places where hopes and dreams are made, but if we don’t get them right in the next ten years, it will be too late.”

Now is the time to transform national urban policies into local action

Published by UN-Habitat on 6 July 2022

Laura Puttkamer concludes URBANET’s spotlight on the eleventh session of the World Urban Forum. Three Cs dominated this year’s World Urban Forum: climate, conflict and Covid-19. More than 16,000 urban planners, academics, NGO members and other city enthusiasts signed up to participate in the 11th World Urban Forum, held in Katowice, Poland. The event culminated in the Katowice Declared Actions. According to Ms Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, “this document shows our willingness to take a stand. Cities are places where hopes and dreams are made, but if we don’t get them right in the next ten years, it will be too late.”

WUF 11, image by Piotr Piosik WUF 11, image by Piotr Piosik

From June 26 to June 30, more than 700 speakers shared their knowledge and experience on urban development in over 400 events. The conference centre in Katowice was buzzing with ideas, fruitful exchanges, an urban expo with dozens of booths, and most of all with people networking, sitting down together and discussing key urban challenges.

At the German pavilion, the minister for housing, urban development and construction, Ms Klara Geywitz, opened a week of events by emphasising the need for a strong national urban policy in each country. She shared that Europe is already a forerunner when it comes to strong and successful collaboration between cities and other levels of government. “But we want to intensify the dialogue”, she stressed. With Germany at the helm of the G7, there are many opportunities for shaping the future of our cities. One of them is the new U7 initiative, an Urban 7 Alliance focusing on multi-level governance. Mannheim’s mayor, Mr Peter Kurz, described the U7 as a “platform for elevating local leaders’ voices”. He said that cities are not just objects of policies but need to shape their own strategies and their interpretation of a National Urban Policy. While the U7 consists of the same members as the G7, it invites all other countries and cities to support issues such as a post-war development strategy for Ukraine and localising SDG 11 in the Global South.

Mayors leading by example

Considering that by 2050, 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities, it is key to focus more on urban development to solve the triple C crisis. As the first responders, mayors have a direct connection to people. It was refreshing to see that so many of them were present at Katowice to exchange ideas with their peers.

The mayor of Katowice, Mr Marcin Krupa, led by example. Countless interested parties approached him to learn more about Katowice’s astonishing urban development. This medium-sized city in Southern Poland, the capital of Upper Silesia, fell into despair in the 1990s when its coal mines closed. The corresponding heavy industry companies also had to close; environmental degradation, unemployment, and a sense of hopelessness prevailed. Yet, in only 30 years, Katowice has managed to turn things around by implementing brave initiatives focused on culture. The conference centre, as well as the neighbouring Silesian Museum and a concert hall, exemplify this: they are located on top of a former coal mine. The city presented itself as a vibrant hub for international conferences, the IT industry, retail, and services. A new key project, a Gaming and Technology Hub, shows just how far this former industrial city has come.

Importantly, Katowice has also managed to integrate its citizens into the WUF. Compared to WUF10 in Abu Dhabi, which happened behind closed doors, WUF11 was very accessible. The 11 different zones of the event ranged from a youth zone to a science zone, an SDG corner, a music zone and relax zones. All of these were spread out around the conference centre in the spirit of the 15-minute-city. Katowice also shows how a car-centric city can become much more friendly towards pedestrians. While there are still big highways very close to the city centre, all conference zones were easily accessible via barrier-free walkways lined with trees, waste bins and bike paths, as well as clear signage. Many of these zones, as well as SDG11-related events, will continue throughout the year and beyond, inviting citizens to learn more about the work of UN-Habitat and about the importance of sustainable urban development.

WUF11 in the city

Photo: UN-Habitat, one of the WUF11 urban zones in the city

What comes next? WUF12 in Egypt!

After the excitement of a successful conference with representatives from over 170 countries, the question is: what comes next? WUF12 will be held in 2024 in Cairo, Egypt and offers another check-in point for the progress of the New Urban Agenda. The Sustainable Development Report 2022 demonstrated that almost every city is behind in its implementation of SDG 11.

Executive Director of UN-Habitat hands over a baton  of the World Urban Forum to Egypt

Photo: WUF11, image by Piotr Piosik, Executive Director of UN-Habitat hands over a baton of the World Urban Forum to Egypt

But there is still hope. The World Cities Report 2022, published during WUF11, presents three possible scenarios for the cities of the future: a worst-case scenario, a business-as-usual scenario, and an optimistic scenario. To work towards the optimistic scenario, it is more important than ever to remember that we are already in the UN Decade of Action. Now is the time to implement National Urban Policies by breaking them down to each city into ever-smaller pieces – mayors play a key role in creating tangible results. The example of Katowice offers hope and inspiration for how to achieve drastic urban change in just a few years.

“We only have about 90 months to implement the 2030 goals for cities. That’s 2,700 days. Let Covid-19 be our wake-up call to really start localising SDG11.”, Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif concludes.

Retrieved from https://wuf.unhabitat.org/news/now-time-transform-national-urban-policies-local-action

The Declared Actions of the Eleventh Session of the World Urban Forum

The Declared Actions of the Eleventh Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF11) were introduced at the event’s closing ceremony on 30 June, the culmination of five days of debate and discussion in Katowice, Poland. Announced by H.E Madame Martha Delgado, President of the UN-Habitat Assembly, the Declared Actions will carry the sustainable development agenda forward to the next World Urban Forum in Cairo, Egypt in January 2024, and beyond.

The Declared Actions of the Eleventh Session of the World Urban Forum

Published by UN-Habitat on 4 July 2022

The Declared Actions of the Eleventh Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF11) were introduced at the event’s closing ceremony on 30 June, the culmination of five days of debate and discussion in Katowice, Poland. Announced by H.E Madame Martha Delgado, President of the UN-Habitat Assembly, the Declared Actions will carry the sustainable development agenda forward to the next World Urban Forum in Cairo, Egypt in January 2024, and beyond.

Photo: IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera, Martha Delgado, President of the United Nations Habitat Assembly  Photo: IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera, Martha Delgado, President of the United Nations Habitat Assembly

Dozens of commitments have already been received, but city planners, mayors, governments, civil society and community groups have until 31 July, 2022 to submit their actions on the Urban Agenda Platform (www.urbanagendaplatform.org) on the WUF11 theme of ‘Transforming Our Cities for a Better Urban Future’.

Reading from the introduction to the Declared Actions, Ms Delgado said that participants in WUFF11 were “concerned by the lack of progress towards the SDGs and the Paris Agreement and call for urgent transformative action”.

“We need to focus on increasing the inevitable urban crises. The climate emergency, pandemics, the biodiversity crisis, other natural and man-made disasters, all converge in cities. Being prepared for and overcoming these crises becomes a precondition to transform towards a better urban future,” she said, quoting the document.

The Declared Actions concluded with an appeal for greater funding for UN-Habitat, which convenes the World Urban Forum every two years and co-organizes the event with a host country and city.

At the closing ceremony, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, declared that the expression of interest for the Thirteenth Session of the World Urban Forum officially opened.

Previous hosts have been: Nairobi, Barcelona, Vancouver, Nanjing, Rio de Janeiro, Naples, Medellin, Kuala Lumpur and Abu Dhabi.

Retrieved from https://wuf.unhabitat.org/news/declared-actions-eleventh-session-world-urban-forum

World Cities Report launched with warning that “we must get cities right”
UN-Habitat’s flagship report on sustainable development was officially released on 29 June, with a warning that rapid urbanization was only temporarily delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. World Cities Report 2022 – Envisaging the Future of Cities said that the global urban population was back on track to grow by another 2.2 billion people by 2050. The large-scale flight from major cities in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic to the perceived safety of the countryside or smaller towns was a short-term response that will not alter the course of global urbanization, it found.

World Cities Report launched with warning that “we must get cities right”

Published by UN-Habitat on 30 June 2022

UN-Habitat | Monika WcislakPhoto: UN-Habitat | Monika Wcislak

Urbanization remains a powerful 21st century mega-trend,” said Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-Habitat, speaking at the Eleventh Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF11) in Katowice, Poland. 

“That entails numerous challenges, which were further exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic. But there is a sense of optimism that COVID-19 has provided us with the opportunity to build back differently. With the right policies and the right commitment from governments, our children can inherit an urban future that is more inclusive, greener, safer and healthier.”

The report identified three potential scenarios for the world’s cities. In the worst-case or “high damage” scenario, the number of people living in poverty could increase by more than 200 million by 2050. 

The “pessimistic” scenario foresees a reversion to the status quo before the pandemic, a business-as-usual approach which would lock into cycles of poverty, poor productivity, inequality and unhealthy living for decade

In the optimistic vision, by 2050 there could be 260 million people lifted out of poverty compared to the pre-COVID baseline. Governments and donors would invest in urban development sufficiently to create just, resilient, healthy and prosperous cities everywhere.

Sharif added: “If we don’t get cities right, then 68 per cent of the global population will face serious problems or challenges. 

“We need to accelerate. We only have 90 months, or 2700 days, until we reach 2030, the target for the Global Goals. This report is a very timely wake-up call.”

Welcoming the report at a press conference at the forum, Małgorzata Jarosińska-Jedynak, Secretary of State in Poland’s Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy, said: “I urge everyone to read the World Cities Report and follow its recommendations. It talks about coherent policy and coordinated urban planning, which is extremely important.”

Marcin Krupa, Mayor of Katowice, said: “Unless we stop the process of climate change and reduce gas emissions we are going to face even bigger problems. This document is a roadmap for us as city leaders to mitigate the bad effects of climate change, and on how to create premium living conditions for our residents.”

Ben Arimah, Chief of Global Reports and Trends at UN-Habitat, said that special attention needed to be paid to small and medium sized cities, which are among the most rapidly urbanizing. 

“We need to invest in those cities, and we need to improve infrastructure on the outskirts of major cities so not everyone wants to live there,” he said.   

Access the full report here: https://unhabitat.org/wcr/

World Cities Report 2022: Envisaging the Future of Cities
World Cities Report 2022: Envisaging the Future of Cities seeks to provide greater clarity and insights into the future of cities based on existing trends, challenges and opportunities, as well as disruptive conditions, including the valuable lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, and suggest ways that cities can be better prepared to address a wide range of shocks and transition to sustainable urban futures. 

World Cities Report 2022: Envisaging the Future of Cities

Published by UN-Habitat

World Cities Report 2022: Envisaging the Future of Cities seeks to provide greater clarity and insights into the future of cities based on existing trends, challenges and opportunities, as well as disruptive conditions, including the valuable lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, and suggest ways that cities can be better prepared to address a wide range of shocks and transition to sustainable urban futures. The Report proposes a state of informed preparedness that provides us with the opportunity to anticipate change, correct the course of action and become more knowledgeable of the different scenarios or possibilities that the future of cities offers.

Chapter 1: The Diversity and Vision for the Future of Cities

While the COVID-19 pandemic dominated the two years between editions of the World Cities Report and upended many aspects of urban life, this Report comes at a time when world events create ever more dynamic environments for urban actors. Although of the world has lifted the public health restrictions and border closures that made COVID-19 such a dominant aspect of urban life, the virus continues to flare up periodically and some countries still have strict measures in place. Recently, the world has witnessed a sudden global spike in inflation and cost of living, alongside supply chain disruptions, which is severely affecting the recovery of urban economies. New and persistent armed conflicts have altered the geopolitical order and contributed to global economic uncertainty.

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Chapter 2: Scenarios of Urban Futures: Degree of Urbanization

A new harmonized definition, called the Degree of Urbanization, facilitates international comparisons of urbanization. By defining three main classes of human settlements (cities, towns and semi-dense areas, and rural areas), the Degree of Urbanization captures the urban-rural continuum as recommended by research. It provides a pathway to overcoming the fundamental challenge linked to monitoring urban trends and the development agendas that has lingered over the years: the lack of a unified definition of what constitutes “urban” and its precise measurement.

This chapter provides a unique perspective on future trends using Degree of Urbanization and data emanating from this new harmonized approach. Specifically, it provides scenarios that allow us to understand the anticipated demographic and spatial changes across the urban-rural continuum in various regions as well as their drivers.

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Chapter 3: Poverty and Inequality: Enduring Features of an Urban Future?

Cities generate wealth but also concentrate poverty and inequality. From the overcrowded slums in the developing world to homelessness and pockets of destitution in the developed world, urban poverty and inequality take many forms. We cannot envision a bright future for cities when inequality appears to be on the rise globally and poverty in certain regions. How to tackle poverty and inequality are among the most pressing challenges facing urban areas; and improving income and a wide range of opportunities for all is essential to achieving an optimistic urban future. The global development agenda gives prime of place to the issue, with SDG 1, which calls for a world in which we “end poverty in all its forms everywhere.” If urban poverty is not addressed, then this goal will remain elusive.

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Chapter 4: Resilient Urban Economies: A Catalyst for Productive Futures

The urban economy is integral to the future of cities. Given the size of the contribution of cities to the national economy, the future of many countries will be determined by the productivity of its urban areas. People first gathered in denser human settlements for the purpose of trading at markets, and this fundamental aspect of urban life has evolved over time. Today’s urban economies are complex systems tied to global trade and capital flows, in which foreign entities can own the property next door and distant events can affect the prices for local goods. Cities must be smarter than ever about how they position their economies for the maximum benefit of all residents while also safeguarding the environment and improving their city’s quality of life.

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Chapter 5: Securing a Greener Urban Future

Climate change and environmental concerns increasingly dominate future scenarios. The increase in extreme weather events and natural disasters like flooding, heatwaves and landslides will impact urban areas the hardest, which makes climate change adaptation a paramount concern. Meanwhile, urban areas are responsible for a majority of the world’s carbon emissions. As such, the transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions must occur as soon as feasibly possible. Cities can do their part by embracing a wide range of options.

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Chapter 6: Urban Planning for the Future of Cities

Cities are complex systems that grow, develop and even shrink based on a variety of forces. Planning is an essential tool for shaping the future of cities, as unplanned human settlements are prone to sprawl, inefficient land use, poor connectivity and a lack of adequate municipal services. Good urban planning is one of the three pillars of sustainable cities, without which cities are unlikely to achieve the optimistic scenario of urban futures.

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Chapter 7: Public Health and Sustainable Urban Futures

As history attests, the resilience and scalability of cities is undergirded by effective public health. Beyond hospitals, medicines and vaccines, equitable provision of health-promoting infrastructure such as green spaces, improved housing, clean and safe drinking water, and extensive sewer systems to safely dispose of human waste are necessary minimum components for securing public health in urban areas. While COVID-19 led to the first major global pandemic in a century, the future portends more epidemics and pandemics. Public health is now once again at the forefront in envisioning the future of cities.

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Chapter 8: Rethinking Urban Governance for the Future of Cities

Whichever future urban challenge cities face, whether it is poverty, health, housing or the environment, urban governance always has a critical enabling role to ensure that the capacities and resources of institutions and people match their responsibilities and desires. Sustainable urban development is not possible without effective multilevel urban governance – including local governments, civil society and national governments. Governments have been severely tested since 2020, which means now is the time to rethink urban governance and put cities on the path to an optimistic future scenario.

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Chapter 9: Innovation and Technology: Towards Knowledge-Based Urban Futures

Advances in technology and urban futures are inextricably linked. The future of cities will be knowledge-based, driven largely by innovation and the widespread use of new technologies and digitization of virtually all facets of urban life. Technological innovations define the twenty-first century. Cities are going through a wave of digitalization that is reshaping how urban dwellers live, work, learn and play. Technology holds great promise for improving urban livelihoods, but there are also risks that smart city technology will invade privacy. Cities, meanwhile, are competing for innovation-based businesses in a race that will create both winners and losers in urban futures.

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Chapter 10: Building Resilience for Sustainable Urban Futures

Any scenario of urban futures outlined in this Report will face unexpected shocks and stresses. Will a given city collapse like a house of cards or withstand whatever unpredictable future comes their way? The answer to that question lies in a city's resilience, a capacity that bookends all of the discussion up to this point. A key message running through this Report is that building economic, social and environmental resilience, including appropriate governance and institutional structures must be at the heart of the future of cities. Cities that are well-planned, managed, and financed have a strong foundation to prepare for such unknown future threats. Moreover, cities that are socially inclusive and work for all their residents are also better positioned to face environmental, public health, economic, social and any other variety of shock or stress, as cities are only as strong as their weakest link.

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Read the Key Findings and Messages for each chapter here: https://unhabitat.org/wcr/files/Key_Findings_and_Messages_WCR_2022.pdf

Access the full report here: https://unhabitat.org/sites/default/files/2022/06/wcr_2022.pdf

WUF11 Background Paper: Transforming our Cities for a Better Urban Future
Organized by UN-Habitat, the World Urban Forum has become the foremost international gathering for exchanging views and experiences on sustainable urbanization. Drawing on the central theme of “Transforming our cities for a better urban future”, this WUF-11 Background Paper delves into the key issues that underline each of the thematic objectives of the Eleventh Session of the World Urban Forum.

WUF11 Background Paper: Transforming our Cities for a Better Urban Future

Published by UN-Habitat in May 2022

Organized and convened by UN-Habitat, the World Urban Forum has become the foremost international gathering for exchanging views and experiences on sustainable urbanization in all its ramifications. The inclusive nature of the Forum, combined with high-level participation, makes it a unique United Nations conference and major international gathering on urban issues.

The objectives of the World Urban Forum are to:

  1. Raise awareness of sustainable urbanization among stakeholders and constituencies, including the general public;
  2. Improve the collective knowledge of sustainable urbanization through inclusive open debates, sharing of lessons learned and the exchange of best practices and good policies;
  3. Increase coordination and cooperation between different stakeholders and constituencies for the advancement and implementation of sustainable urbanization;
  4. To provide substantive and strategic inputs from multilateral organizations, subnational and national governments and other stakeholders for reporting on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

Drawing on the central theme of Transforming our cities for a better urban future, this WUF-11 Background Paper delves into the key issues that underline each of the thematic objectives of the Eleventh Session of the World Urban Forum.

Read the full background paper here or download the attached PDF of the document.

Urban-Rural Linkages and COVID-19: Lessons for Resilience and Recovery from Crisis
The “Urban-Rural Linkages and COVID-19: Lessons for Resilience and Recovery from Crisis” provides a summary analysis from the global webinar series on the experiences and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of urban-rural linkages. The live webinars featured key speakers and interactive discussions from 109 countries with nearly 6,000 registrants. The report has captured new forms of cross-sector engagement and collaboration among international organizations, national and subnational governments, civil society organizations, research and professional institutions.

Urban-Rural Linkages and COVID-19: Lessons for Resilience and Recovery from Crisis

First published in Nairobi in 2022 by UN-Habitat

Coordinator: Remy Sietchiping, Grace Githiri

Authors: Thomas Forster, Florence Egal, Eol Chae

Contributors: Camilo Romero, Lei Sun, Solomon Karani

Design and Layout: Jean Robert Gatsinzi

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This report presents the results of rapid mobilizing in 2020 on the part of the UrbanRural Linkages (URL) team in the Policy, Legislation and Governance Section (PLGS) of the Urban Practices Branch of UN-Habitat to capture the experiences and lessons being learned from the COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of urban-rural linkages. The vehicle for capturing these experiences in real time was live webinars featuring key speakers and interactive discussion from 109 countries there were nearly 6,000 registrants. Experiences were presented from all regions and all scales of settlements, from villages and neighbourhoods to large cities and metropolitan regions. The pre-pandemic context of work on urban-rural linkages informed the design of the webinars, which were organized to understand how urbanrural relations were impacted or were important to the response and recovery effort of cities, regions and territories.

Urban-rural linkages have been important for the development of cities and recognized for decades. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with SDG 11 calling for sustainable and resilient cities recognizes the need to integrate urban, peri-urban and rural planning for sustainable development. The New Urban Agenda further recognizes the importance of urban-rural linkages to integrate urban and territorial planning and development.

At the first UN-Habitat Assembly in 2019 the Urban-Rural Linkages: Guiding Principles (URL-GP) and Framework for Action to Advance Territorial Development was launched and Member States approved a resolution calling for focused efforts to strengthen URLs. Through partnerships with other United Nations, national, subnational and various research, development and NGO partners, thematic guides and normative products were developed and began to be piloted in the two years before the outbreak of COVID-19. This proved important to the mobilization of organizational response and exchange of lessons from cities, territories and countries facing the pandemic.

When the pandemic spread across cities, countries and regions, the URL team and partners decided to host a series of action learning webinars focused on the pandemic and urban-rural linkages. UN-Habitat collaborated with partner organizations to hold two series of webinars comprising nine sessions between May and December, 2020. Over 2,200 people participated in one or more of the webinars. The series substantially expanded UN-Habitat’s outreach to the urban-rural community of practice, and this geographic reach (over 75 countries) underscored the effectiveness of online platforms to disseminate inspiring practices, regulatory frameworks, operating procedures and methodologies.

The series of webinars was instrumental in fostering new relationships and identifying new areas of engagement in coordination with multilateral organizations, national and subnational governments, civil society organizations, research and professional institutions. These areas of engagement included integrated urban-rural policy and governance, metropolitan and intermediate cities governance, food and market systems, migration as well as the application of the URL-GP in the context of climate change and ecosystem restoration in the urban-rural interface. The action learning process of the webinars themselves led to new modalities of collaboration and partnership that have continued in efforts in 2021 to mainstream the importance of strengthening urban-rural linkages for sustainable territorial development.

Analysis of the content of the webinars reveals the applicability of the Urban-Rural Linkages Guiding Principles (URL-GP) launched at the UN-Habitat Assembly in 2019. All ten principles were applicable to the experiences of cities and territories participating in the webinars. The issues rising from the shared experiences of the impacts, challenges and consequences of this pandemic for the management of future response to crisis, whether the origin of the crises is a virus, a climate emergency or other shock, stress or disaster, include five categories that need to be taken into account for improved crisis response and recovery:

  • Digitalization of commerce and civic participation
  • Weakness and disparities of social protection systems
  • Crisis-driven human mobility and migration
  • Markets and market systems that provide food, goods and commodity to and link urban and rural communities
  • Multilevel governance for territorial recovery and resilience

Critical areas for improvements in policy and programmes include:

  • Social protection systems linking cities and territories for essential services of food, water, health, education and housing must be strengthened as vital safety nets
  • Informal economic and solidarity safety nets are a vital part of the mutual interdependency of urban and rural areas and must be recognized and supported
  • Inequalities within and between urban and rural areas are a major vulnerability for health, safety and resilience and must be part of all COVID-19 recovery agendas.
  • Ecosystems services from rural to urban areas (food, fibre, water and animal products) are at the heart of circular urban-rural economies and require improved and integrated urban-rural governance
  • In different ways, depending on the scale and context of cities and territories impacted by COVID-19, the flows of essential goods and services (food, water, shelter, funds, etc.) proved more resilient in shorter, subnational supply chains than in longer distance national and global supply chains
  • Integrated territorial development that links sectoral priorities of health, environment, food systems, biodiversity, economy and social cohesion across urban and rural communities is a core precept for future crisis mitigation

Cross cutting challenges that emerged and the responses that inform long-term recovery, suggest the possibility of a new “urban-rural contract” for inclusive, balanced and sustainable development that is also more resilient and adaptable in times of crisis.

Access the full report here: https://urbanpolicyplatform.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/URLs-COVID%20and%20Lessons%20for%20Resilience%20and%20Recovery%20from%20Crisis.pdf

UN-Habitat Global Public Space Programme Annual Report 2021
UN-Habitat’s Global Public Space Programme supports cities in ensuring safe, inclusive, and accessible public spaces for all. This report highlights examples of cities that are redefining their agendas for a new strategic framework with public spaces as a key driver of change to improve the well-being and health of urban communities, while boosting social cohesion and livelihoods amidst COVID-19.

UN-Habitat Global Public Space Programme Annual Report 2021

Originally published on 15 February 2022 by UN-Habitat

Launched in 2012, UN-Habitat’s Global Public Space Programme supports cities to take actions for safe, inclusive, and accessible public space for all. As a Programme, we promote the crucial role of green and quality public spaces in cities, acting as an enabler for social justice, prosperity, and environmental change. Streets, sidewalks and cycling lanes, squares, parks and waterfronts, gardens and community courtyards, are all part of what we define as public space. Trends of rapid urbanization are constantly increasing, and public spaces are too often sacrificed on account of uncontrolled urban development. We support national and local governments, private sector, and civil society to implement policies and strategies to protect and regenerate the public realm for a sustainable future.

The Global Public Space Programme adopts an integrated and iterative approach for sustainable public space development and management. Starting from city-wide and site-specific public space assessments, we promote evidence-based strategies and national policies for a more connected network of public spaces. We use innovative methodologies such as Minecraft to co-design space with communities, boosting public participation in urban planning and design processes. We encourage co-governance and co-management of public space to secure longevity of projects and community empowerment. So far, we have completed 137 public space upgrading projects in 90 different cities, impacting the life of over 2.3 million people.

2021 has been a crucial year to rediscover the value of public spaces. Countries and cities have mobilised funding and have actioned recovery plans to cope with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Great effort has been put in developing new means of communication and interaction. However, new variants of the COVID-19 virus have emerged throughout the year, keeping public life in constant stand-by. The pandemic has exhausted several small businesses, which could not manage to recover between one wave and the other. The cultural industry is reinventing its business model, while coping with one of the biggest crises of the sector.

This year, more than ever, we have seen a great interest from cities in how to keep the momentum of participation going. We received several requests for trainings and workshops on urban participation and inclusion worldwide. Capacity building and development of normative products is at the core of the UN-Habitat mandate, and this year our efforts were addressed to deliver training packages and innovate our methodologies. While dealing with the crisis, we adopted an integrated approach to not forget cross-cutting challenges that are still threatening our cities and communities, such as gender inequality and climate change, which have been exacerbated during the pandemic.

Public space has proved to improve the well-being and health of our communities, while boosting social interaction and livelihoods. Leveraging the renovated interest of countries and cities, we believe that COVID-19 could be a great opportunity for cities to redefine their agendas and develop a new strategic framework, putting public spaces as a key driver of change.

Access the full report here or download the attached PDF of the report.

UN-Habitat's Call for Case Studies on Urban-Rural Linkages
UN-Habitat invites you, as organizations and professionals working to integrate urban and rural sustainable development, to share your experiences and case studies in regards to relationships between urban and rural areas.

Call for Case Studies relevant to the Urban Rural Linkages Guiding Principles and Framework for Action to Advance Integrated Territorial Development

by UN-Habitat

In particular, UN-Habitat is looking for case studies relevant to the Urban Rural Linkages: Guiding Principles (URL-GP) and Framework for Action on past, ongoing or upcoming projects. The practices can be policies, strategies, tools, interventions, geographic or thematic projects whose aim is to advance territorial development by strengthening urban-rural linkages. Covid-19 response and recovery projects related to urban-rural linkages are highly encouraged, please reference the Issue Brief: COVID-19 through the Lens of Urban Rural Linkages-Guiding Principles and Framework for Action.

Please submit your case studies by 31st March, 2022 (Extended Deadline). However, you can submit your cases any time for consideration in subsequent editions of the Compendium. The case studies will be published on the UN-Habitat websiteUrban Policy Platform and Urban-Rural Linkages website and will be included in the third edition of the Compendium of Inspiring Practices of the Urban Rural Linkages to Advance Integrated Territorial Development, to be published in 2022. Full credit will be attributed to the authors and organizations submitting the case studies. Please see the First and Second edition of the Compendium for reference.

If you have a completed or ongoing project/tool/strategy/policy that you would like to submit, please fill out the Template for Case Studies. The template consists of 21 basic questions (e.g. name, location, challenges) and two multiple choice forms concerning your case and its relation to urban-rural linkages. Please keep your answers as concise as possible. Submissions should be made by completing the dedicated Online Form or submitted to unhabitat-url@un.org with the Template, indicating in the subject: “3rd Call for Case Studies on Strengthening Urban-Rural Linkages”.

For any enquiries, write to unhabitat-url@un.org.

* The deadline has been extended through to 31st March, 2022.

Watch the information video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSksu9izLuI

Learn more here: https://urbanpolicyplatform.org/call-for-case-studies-relevant-to-the-urban-rural-linkages-guiding-principles-and-framework-for-action/

UN-Habitat expands COVID-19 Prevention in Kenya’s Mathare and Kibera Informal Settlements
Nearly 5,000 school children in two informal settlements in the Kenyan capital are better protected against COVID-19 as a result of an UN-Habitat initiative to expand mask and recycling bins in those often-overlooked areas.

UN-Habitat expands COVID-19 Prevention in Kenya’s Mathare and Kibera Informal Settlements

by UN-Habitat | Originally published on 9 February 2022

Nairobi, 9 February 2022 –

The three-week initiative in Mathare and Kibera informal settlements is in line with UN-Habitat’s commitment not only to upgrade the quality of life in slums worldwide but also to ensure a more equitable distribution of resources to all citizens as a step toward providing more sustainable urban development.

The Youth-led COVID-19 Emergency Response initiative comes under UN-Habitat COVID-19 Response Plan adopted in April, 2020, which has as one of its main objectives the leveraging of experience, expertise and partnerships to deliver solutions. UN-Habitat has an extensive network of youth partners built up over its 20 years of programming with young people globally. Working with these partners on the ground we have brought together central and local governments, youth, communities and UN agencies to make the COVID-19 response impactful, especially with those in informal settlements and slums.

One key prevention method is masks. The most recent mask initiative facilitated the distribution of 6,577 surgical face masks to 2,226 students in seven schools in Mathare and 8,730 masks to 2,500 students in five schools in Kibera slums, for a total of 15,307 masks distributed to 4,726 students.

“We would like to say thank you for the surgical face masks. This will help us study with no worry of contracting of COVID-19 virus as we prepare for the upcoming National Exams in March,” Rebecca, Class 8 Representative at Kibera’s Raila Education Centre said.

UN-Habitat expands COVID-19 Prevention in Kenya’s Mathare and Kibera Informal Settlements

[MECYG/Gerry Gerison_Lumumba]

Face masks, donated by the Korean National Committee for UN-Habitat, were distributed by Mathare Environmental Conservation Youth Group (MECYG) and the Kibera Community Emergency Response Team (KCERT) to assist community members in their prevention response to COVID-19. Also, to limit the environmental impact of disposable masks and promote economic empowerment, the elastic cords from the masks will be reused by women tailor cooperatives. Along with the masks, recycling bins were also distributed to each of the schools.

“The bins will be used for the safe disposal of all kinds of surgical masks, not only for the ones distributed today but also for other kinds that the learners and teachers may have,” explained Mary Hiuhu, Programme Coordinator for the Youth-led Emergency COVID-19 Coalition. “The activity ensures that each student acquired at least three masks, with members of the MECYG and KCERT conducting the garbage disposal and recycling process in Mathare and Kibera respectively.”

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States says students benefit from in-person learning and recommends universal indoor masking for all students.

“The past and current support of the Youth-led Emergency COVID-19 coalition has been invaluable to our work,” said Doug Ragan, UN-Habitat Programme Management Officer. “This is an example of how youth-led agencies can play a key role in public health and other emergencies.”

The Youth-led Emergency COVID-19 coalition was founded in April of 2020 by the Governments of Kenya, Norway, Canada, Somalia, Habitat NorwayWater is RightVictor Wanyama Foundation, and the County Governments of Mandera, Nyeri, Kisumu and Mathare.

Article and images retrieved from https://unhabitat.org/un-habitat-expands-covid-19-prevention-in-kenyas-mathare-and-kibera-informal-settlements