Medellin, 10 April 2014: High profile urban writer and theorist, Richard Florida, and planning and design practitioner, have said that we are not yet prepared for the urbanisation that will take place in the coming years given the current rate at which we need to expand our cities and towns.

Speaking to members of the press in advance of their Urban Talk at the World Urban Forum in Medellin, Colombia, they spoke about how developed countries had as much, if not more, to learn from those with less income than the other way round and we should not be too quick to emulate the model of Europe and North America, establishing instead a “new paradigm” of urban planning.

“We need to work with appropriate density and community building to lift even more people than we already have,” said Florida.  “The World Urban Forum points us in the right direction to do this.”

Toderian spoke about the “power of nearness” saying that the ultimate goal for a city like Medellin should be complete walkability.  “If we talk about a truly equitable city, it’s a walkable one.  Even the best public transport systems cost money but walking costs nothing.”

The dialogues continued today with the Habitat Professionals Forum hosting the Professionals’ Roundtable, in which panellists from its varied constituencies noted the challenges of today’s urban spaces and the needs and opportunities that they see for the New Urban Agenda. Panellists agreed on the need for a radical shift in the way that we think about and plan, build, and manage our cities, noting that they must be built for the human being, not for the car. Given the current rate of urbanization, we need to rethink urban densities, public space, mixed-used development and location of urban services as cities grow.