From 8 to 13 February 2020, UCLG Africa participated in the tenth edition of the World Urban Forum (#WUF 10) held in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. 540 sessions were held during the forum organized by UN-Habitat in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport, the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the General Secretariat of the Executive Council and the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
Participants from international organizations, national, local and regional governments, the private sector, civil society, universities and other actors discussed different aspects of the forum’s theme: “Cities of opportunity”: Connecting culture and innovation”.
During the six days of the forum, the Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, took part in 9 main sessions.
At the consultative meeting of African ministers of housing and urban development held on 11 February, participants started the consultation process to speak with one voice and reviewed the preparation of the Africa-France Summit in the first part, and the UN-Habitat Strategic Action Plan 2020-2023 and African perspectives, in the second part. The meeting held in the presence of Mrs. Minata Samaté, Commissioner for Political Affairs of the African Union (AU) resulted in the following main recommendations:
– The African strategy that will be presented at the Africa-France summit in Bordeaux from 4 to 6 June 2020, will highlight the realities of the continent by identifying African priorities in terms of urbanization of cities;
-African solutions should be proposed at this meeting taking into account the specificities of cities in our different regions (conflict zones, migration, climate change, etc.);
– A final preparatory meeting should be held in March in order to harmonize the African position towards the Africa-France Summit.
Mrs. Minata Samaté took the opportunity to appeal to AU Member States to ratify the charters initiated by her department: The African Charter on the Values and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local Development (07 ratifications to date) and the African Charter on Housing and Urban Development.
During the meeting, UCLG Africa pleaded for local and regional governments not to be left on the sidelines during the Bordeaux summit (see the video here).
The session of UCLG Africa on the presentation of its programme “African Capitals of Culture”, organized on 12 February and the participation of UCLG Africa in the session on the location of SDGs with a focus on culture reiterated the place of culture as the fourth pillar of development in cities and local governments, according to UCLG’s Agenda 21.
This axis defended by local and regional governments at the WUF was indeed taken into account in the final declaration of the forum under point 3 . “We, the participants of WUF 10, are convinced that culture is an integral part of the solution to the challenges of urbanisation and achieving the New Urban Agenda. The urban environment, in turn, has an influence on culture. Culture is a core component of local identity including heritage, creativity and diversity and urbanisation need to be planned, designed and managed to enhance this. Culture is considered by some constituencies as the fourth pillar of sustainable development and must be a stronger strand of global solidarity….”.
Taking part in the session “Land use and regeneration policies” organized by Climate Chance, Mr. Mbassi stressed that in “Africa, sustainable development must go through intermediate cities. The speed of urbanization on the continent means that authorities generally do not have time to plan“.