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MAS Attends the World Urban Forum in Medellín, Colombia


This week the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) hosts its seventh World Urban Forum (WUF7) in Medellín, Colombia.  From April 5 – 11, 2014 nearly 25,000 urban practitioners from over 164 countries will participate in a series of lectures, roundtable discussions, exhibitions, and networking events seeking to examine the most pressing challenges facing our cities.  As part of the US delegation, the Municipal Art Society is participating in this year’s conference and hosting a session to forge new partnerships between city builders.  Hosted by MAS’s Global Network, Speed Dating for City Builders: Making Cities more livable and resilient provides an opportunity for urban practitioners to connect with our network partners in order to share common challenges, discuss new strategies and exchange knowledge concerning the resilience and livability of our cities.  The session will be hosted on Wednesday, April 7th and will include network partners from Bandung Creative City Forum, Commonwealth Association of Planners, the Grand Paris Alliance, The Nature of Cities, Penn Institute for Urban Research, African Planning Association, UN Habitat, The World Bank, and Architecture for Humanity.

This year’s World Urban Forum comes at a critical time, as the United Nations and its member states are in the process of developing the post-2015 Agenda, a series of Sustainable Development Goals set to replace the 2000 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  As part of this effort, MAS’s Global Network has created an online petition to encourage the UN to adopt a Sustainable Development Goal dedicated to Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements.  The petition can be found here:  Centered on this year’s theme “Urban Equity in Development – Cities for Life,” the WUF7 will create a participatory platform for a diverse array of urban practitioners to exchange knowledge, share best practices, and build an agenda for a socially and ecologically equitable future for our cities.  This discussion will help to inform the content of the Post-2015 Development Agenda and help to emphasize the importance of addressing cities in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In addition to the SDGs, the content and discussions at WUF7 will feed directly into the preparation for the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III).  Since the initial Habitat I conference in 1976, the Habitat I – III conference series define the global urban priorities for the following 20 years.  Habitat III will generate a “New Urban Agenda” for the 21st century.  As the first official UN conference following the SDGs, it will also set the stage for how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are fulfilled, and implemented.  Leading up to this conference, UN Habitat has created the World Urban Campaign – a platform for advocacy and partnership for raising awareness about positive urban change initiated by city builders around the globe!  The World Urban Campaign steering committee, led by newly elected Chair, Eugenie Birch (MAS’s Board Chair), is working to advise the policy and planning of the campaign, WUF7, and Habitat III.

At this critical juncture for the future of urban policy and development, the presence of MAS at the WUF7 plays a necessary role for the organization to participate in and inform the future of global urban policy and contribute to the advancement of the World Urban Campaign.  As one of the world’s oldest civil society advocacy organizations, focused on the critical role of the spatial city in shaping peoples economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being, participation in the WUF7 creates a forum for us to share our experiences here in NYC and learn from the experiences of others around the globe.  Leading up to the launch of our international digital presence with the Global Network, WUF7 provides an opportunity for us to grow our network partners and expanding influence in the global resilience and livability arena.