From 8 to 11 April 2014, the UCLG Africa secretary general took part in a number of events and meetings at the World Urban Forum (WUF) in Medellin, Colombia which theme is Urban Equity in Development – Cities for Life.
The Forum included over 500 events and an exhibition around the following thematic areas:
- urban land, legislation and governance
- urban planning and design
- urban economy
- urban basic services
- housing and slum upgrading
- risk reduction and rehabilitation
- research and capacity development
The roadmap of the Forum comprised high level dialogues on the main substantive theme of the Forum; special sessions to address topical issues that are relevant to the disussion of the theme of the Forum; assemblies vis-a-vis discussions to align perpectives on global urban development; a series of roundtables meetings of peer groups; urban talks with some of the most renewed economists, urbanists and thinkers; plenary sessions for general conclusions of each day’s discussion. The roadmap also included networking, side and training events; a city changer room; an agora room; a One UN room; a cinéma room; as well as parallel events.
The opening was marked by a very compelling address by the President of the Republic of Ghana. Urban talks witnessed the contributions of Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate in economics, professor at Columbia University; Ricky Burdett, professor of urban studies at the London School of Economics, director of the Urban Age program; Richard Florida, professor at the University of Toronto and at the New York University; Brent Toderian, city planner and urbanist, former Vancouver Chief Planner. The exhibition showed a lot of interesting exchanges of experiences and peer learning events.
The visit of the city of Medellin showed what can be done to transform the living conditions of the poor in the city, and how civic education, local economic development, public transport, public facilities and public space have been instrumental in the transformation of Medellin from one the most dangerous city to live in in the 80s, to the nowadays rather safe, peaceful and welcoming city (see illustrating photos).
During the Forum, the secretary general contributed in a number of events, including the Kow Your City networking event organized by SDI and UCLG Africa; the session on financing African cities organized by FEICOM; the session on African Urban Agenda.
The secretary general also had talks with the minister of local government and rural development of Ghana; the executive director, UN Habitat; the new mayor of the city of Harare; the deputy mayor of the city of Mogadiscio; the representatives of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of the French Development Agency (AFD); the manager of the Cities Alliance; the director of projects, UN Habitat.
In the fringes of the Forum, the secretary general attended a meeting organized on the African Urban Agenda (AUA) under the chairmanship of the ministers of Nigeria and Ghana. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the ministries of urban development of Nigeria and Ghana; the high commissioners of Ghana and Nigeria at UN Habitat; and UN Habitat officers. The meeting concluded on the need to establish appropriate bodies in order to structure the work leading to the adoption of the African Urban Agenda. As a follow up to the meeting, it was decided to set up the AUA technical committee which includes the following members: the high commissioners of Ghana and Nigeria at UN Habitat; the two focal points in the ministries of Ghana and Nigeria; the UCLG Africa; and UN Habitat. The technical committee is tasked to quickly produce a roadmap of the process leading to the elaboration and adoption of the African Urban Agenda.
It was also agreed with the minister of Ghana that the secretary general UCLG Africa travel to Ghana in order to discuss and sign the Headquarters Agreement pertaining to the installation of the UCLG Africa West Africa Regional Office (WARO) in Accra.
Medellin, Colombia, 11 April 2014
Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi
Secretary General, UCLG Africa