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Livable Cities Dispatches: WUF9

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Livable Cities Dispatches: WUF9


The Livable Cities team attended the World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Hear in their own words the highlights and learnings from the Forum:

Kamana Manandhar, Resource Centre for Primary Healthcare, Nepal

“Most of the sessions at WUF9 focused on promoting public spaces from a policy perspective, but some also highlighted urban planning and design and community based approaches. I was able to learn about new techniques, experiences and efforts made by many committed actors from different countries—it was quite inspiring. I also had the opportunity to present as a group representative where I shared the necessity of promoting active transportation in Nepal. The Forum helped me to build my professional network in Nepal. I was even able to meet and speak with one of the officials from our metropolitan office! It would have been great if there was more participation from our government officials to witness changing global dynamics, but overall it was a nice experience to learn, share and network with others.”

Ibrahim Maiga, Peaceful Roads, Niger

“My goal at World Urban Forum 9 was to share my experience and learn what others are doing in cities around the world. My visit to the Exhibition Centre allowed me to understand that commitment to cities is a global phenomenon. Many countries came to share their documented experiences. Seeing this enriches participants like me who come from a country that still has some way to go to achieve balanced urban development. My participation in some of the networking sessions also allowed me to understand that governmental and non-governmental organizations are really engaged to support cities to achieve several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It was also a pleasure to interact with HealthBridge colleagues from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Uganda, Ghana and Brazil.”

Sabin Nileshwar, Evangelical Social Action Forum, India

“WUF9 gave me the opportunity to meet various professionals and government officials from all over the globe. For me, the golden moment was being invited to attend a delegate dinner—where I was introduced to the Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Habitat. It was an over-the-moon feeling and an honour. I also enjoyed the technical visit to the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, as it made me more aware of the importance of natural resources management with urban development practices. For the next World Urban Forum, I hope there will be more dedicated sessions to promote funding opportunities for urban development activities.”

Dinh Dang Hai, HealthBridge, Vietnam

“At the World Urban Forum I was eager to discuss urban development issues, share lesson learned and best practices and network with both international and national organizations in order to make our cities better for all. Throughout the forum, there were a lot of interesting discussions that could help us to get more ideas and solutions to vitalize our cities in a sustainable way. However, there are two main issues that were rarely talked about, or neglected altogether. First, the role of national and local governments to implement initiatives, strategies and plans to develop cities for all; and second, many discussions failed to include speakers from different sectors. Without leadership from the government, implementing projects will be much more difficult, and conversations about urban development must include all voices—planners, engineers, health workers, environment workers etc. I was pleased to attend the Forum and hope that the next forum will focus more on participation and the role of national and local governments to implement urban development issues and turn our vision of better cities into a reality.”

Ziaur Rahman, Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust, Bangladesh

“At the World Urban Forum, I expected to build my network, gain knowledge about global urbanization trends and share my experiences of the Livable Cities program in Dhaka. I was able to achieve all three goals—I learned about urbanization trends, gathered knowledge about public spaces, walking and cycling, and transportation systems in developed countries. I also learned the latest innovations to implement the New Urban Agenda. I have gained knowledge which will help for future work of my organization. Spending time with my Livable Cities counterparts was a great opportunity to understand how our colleagues are doing interventions globally and helped to share their strategies and ideas. It was my favourite moment of the WUF9. I will look forward to next forum!”

Ramiro Levy, Cidade Ativa, Brazil

“This was my first World Urban Forum and I was glad to be part of it. I was glad to contribute to discussions on how to implement the New Urban Agenda (NUA), and the roles of non-profit organizations, national and local governments, citizens and the private sector. However by the end of WUF, it wasn’t clear how all these actors can work together or how priorities are going to be set concerning the lack of financial means to implement all the changes needed in our cities. Personally, I was very happy to meet people from very different nationalities and contexts, to be able to share, inspire and be inspired by the work we are all doing in our home countries. For the next WUF I am looking forward to meeting with more representatives from Latin American countries, share the progress of the work we are just starting, and see how my colleagues’ work has advanced.”

Debra Efroymson, Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust, Bangladesh

“At the World Urban Forum we had several opportunities to share some of our positive experiences, including saving markets and thus livelihoods for thousands of women in Vietnam; ensuring that public spaces will be included in Hoi An, Vietnam; engaging the community to build playgrounds with reclaimed materials in Ghana; reclaiming streets from the car and returning them to the people in Nepal, India, and Bangladesh; gaining government support for public space improvements in Niger; and making passageways in low-income areas of Sao Paulo more attractive, safe, and usable. We have helped thousands of people directly with our programs and reached hundreds of thousands through our media messages. We have influenced policy that will help even more people. But perhaps the best moment during WUF9 was at our celebratory HealthBridge dinner when we turned our sedate restaurant into a disco, with the other diners and restaurant staff videotaping us as we danced among the tables. Although it occurred indoors, it was another example of restoring life and joy to our cities, something we are proud to do in our daily work!”