UAE will be first Arab country to host landmark United Nations Forum

ABU DHABI, 17 October 2018 – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) and the Abu Dhabi Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities (DPM) today signed an Agreement with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) for the city of Abu Dhabi to host the Tenth session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10) in 2020. This will be the first time an Arab country hosts the landmark Forum.

WUF10 will be convened by UN-Habitat and jointly organized with the Abu Dhabi DPM, along with partners including the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the General Secretariat of the Executive Council.

Established in 2001, WUF is the world’s premier gathering on urban issues. The Forum examines the impact of rapid urbanization and its implications for social, economic and environmental policies in communities, cities and towns. UN-Habitat, the convener of the Forum, is the United Nations focal point for sustainable urban development working for an inclusive and prosperous urban future.

The Forum will provide a platform to discuss 21st century city planning within a context of complex and rapid urban development with specific cultural and demographic considerations. It will also showcase the Abu Dhabi Plan through which the city aims realize its long-term sustainable development vision and positioning the Emirate as a benchmark in a region with one of the fastest rates of urbanization in the world.

In the lead up to the Forum, the Abu Dhabi Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities in partnership with UN-Habitat will host the first Pan-Arab Urban Development Symposium in April 2019. Key national and local decision makers and urban experts from 22 Arab countries engaged in implementing the New Urban Agenda and the achievement of SDG11 on making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, will be invited to exchange views and compare experiences about urban challenges facing fast-changing Arab cities.

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-Habitat Maimunah Mohd Sharif observed that the most recent session of the WUF held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was the first following adoption of the New Urban Agenda and Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. “The wealth of contributions summarized in the Kuala Lumpur Declaration calling for joint and scaled up actions is a challenging passing of the baton that needed a committed country and a host city open to the world,” she said. She congratulated Abu Dhabi for accepting the challenge of taking the World Urban Forum to the next level and commended the city authorities and the United Arab Emirate Government for outstanding coordination and timely preparations being jointly undertaken towards hosting the milestone event.

“It is important to highlight that after nine sessions the Forum comes to the Arab Region for the first time. Sustainable urbanization strategies will be critical to addressing the social and environmental challenges facing the region and will help ensure lasting peace and prosperity,” said Mme. Sharif.

“Like so many cities in the region, Abu Dhabi is undergoing rapid and transformative urbanization and we commend the focus on sustainability shown by the Government. This open, inclusive Forum, with its high-level participation, is a unique opportunity to focus on how urban development can be implemented in a sustainable way around the world,” she concluded.

The Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities H.E Falah Al Ahbabi said Abu Dhabi was extremely pleased to have been chosen to host the Tenth session of the World Urban Forum particularly as it marks the first time an Arab nation has hosted this global event. “Abu Dhabi has already attracted international merit for implementing urban sustainability in innovative way having itself experienced a phenomenal shift towards urbanization in a relatively short space of time. This Forum provides an opportunity to showcase these achievements and Abu Dhabi’s role in promoting and implementing sustainable urban development as well as cementing our reputation as a global hub for innovation,” he said.

H.E Falah Al Ahbabi noted that hosting the World Urban Forum in 2020 provides the opportunity to advance on putting the UAE firmly on the path to sustainable development and recognizing the young country’s achievements in what will be the 49th year since the union of our emirates.

“We are delighted and eager for the opportunity to discuss solutions that are being tested by pioneering cities around the world while also showcasing our city, country and the renowned Emirati hospitality,” he said.

WUF10, which is expected to bring together more than 20,000 delegates from more than 150 countries, will certainly lead to new partnerships and actions to meet the challenges of urban areas. Key topics including human capital, resource management, education and culture, mobility, data and much more, will be discussed during the conference.

The Forum plays a key role in implementing the New Urban Agenda, a framework unanimously adopted at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), laying out how cities should be planned and managed to best promote sustainable development. Abu Dhabi strongly supports the New Urban Agenda as it represents its own ideal for creating a sustainable Emirate by preserving and enriching its physical and cultural identity, while improving quality of life for all its residents.