Seville, Spain, 14 October 2021 - The first Spain Urban Forum, held in Seville from 5 to 7 October under the Urban October, jointly organized with the III Global Forum of Local Governments, closes with a great success of participation and with the commitment and involvement of various urban actors interested in sustainable urban development.

The Forum, convened by the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda of Spain (MITMA) and the Seville City Council, with the support of UN-Habitat, addressed the topic "Cities and territories in the social and economic recovery."

The Forum was opened by the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who announced, during his inaugural speech, the new State Housing Law as well as other important measures for the promotion of housing rehabilitation as part of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan of the European Union.

“I especially thank UN-Habitat for supporting the organization of this event. I want to highlight the importance of both Forums at the time when cities are the main protagonists of one of the key responses that we have as humanity, which is climate change, but also people’s quality of life, that all of us, public institutions and the public-private organizations, promote an economic recovery that is also a social and fair recovery,” said the Prime Minister. 

During the official opening, the Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, stressed that "the pandemic has highlighted the importance of sustainable and inclusive urbanization: if it is well-planned and managed, it accelerates economic growth and generates shared prosperity”, she also added that “the New Urban Agenda is the universal roadmap for an ecological, inclusive and resilient post-pandemic recovery.”

The official opening was also attended by the European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, as well as the Mayor of Seville, Juan Espadas, and the President of the Andalusian region, Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla.

"The Forum allows to address debates not yet resolved. We have the opportunity of the European funds to transform cities, making citizens the protagonist, leaving no one behind," said the Mayor of Seville.

The Forum began with an introductory session titled “The Spain Urban Forum in the global context,” in which Carmen Sánchez-Miranda, Head of the UN-Habitat Office in Spain, highlighted the importance of multilevel collaboration and the role of the National Urban Forums as fundamental spaces for localizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and achieve the commitments of the Decade of Action. 

"The Forums add inclusion, diversity, wealth, and substantive contributions from the local and sub-national levels. They promote and raise awareness for the achievement of sustainable urban development," she said.

The Forum was organized around four main themes identified as strategic themes in the implementation of the Spanish Urban Agenda: Ecological Transition and Model of City; Digital Transformation and Innovation; Territory, City and Health; and Equity and Social Cohesion in urban areas: the role of housing.

"The pandemic is an historic opportunity to build back better. The model that we were having, does not work anymore, especially for the most vulnerable (...) inequality must be viewed holistically, since the 'different inequalities' are actually different angles of the same problem,” said Shipra Narang Suri, Chief of the Urban Practices Branch of UN-Habitat, who gave a keynote speech together with H.E. Mr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos, High Representative of the United Nations for the Alliance of Civilizations, and Dr. Joan Clos, former Executive Director of UN-Habitat.

On behalf of UN-Habitat, the Head of Knowledge and Innovation, Eduardo L. Moreno, participated as main speaker in the dialogue “Territory, City and Health”, where he gave the key messages of the report “Cities and Pandemics: Towards a more just, green and healthy future”.

“Space, mobility and work have been the transmission factors (of Covid-19). We must work on them. And it is necessary to make a reconstruction of maps taking these variables into account," he said, adding that “the notion of resilience must be rebuilt, since the current concept maintains the status quo of the unequal system, we need a different resilience: breaking dikes and borders and building egalitarian systems."

In this same dialogue, Silvia Calzón, Secretary of State for Health of Spain, remarked that "all policies end up having an impact on health. In the municipalities, all councilors are health councilors: the ones of culture, social services and, especially, those working on urban planning, since they design cities".

As part of the Forum, it took place the "II Meeting on National Urban Policies Spain - Latin America and the Caribbean", jointly organized by the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda (MITMA) and UN-Habitat, which had the participation of the Secretary General for Urban Agenda and Housing of Spain, David Lucas, the Minister of Housing, City and Territory of Colombia, Jonathan Malagón, the Minister of Housing and Human Settlements of Costa Rica, Irene Campos, the Minister of Territorial Development of Argentina, Jorge Ferraresi, the Vice Minister of Urban Development and Housing of Ecuador, María Gabriela Aguilera, the Head of Planning and Institutional Development of the Ministry of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development of Mexico, Javier Garduño, the Director of Land Use and Urban Planning of the Institute of Physical Planning of Cuba, Anelis Marichal, the Director of Public Administration and Social Affairs of the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAP), Peggy Martinello, and the Regional Representative of UN-Habitat in Latin America and the Caribbean, Elkin Velasquez.

The Forum had various parallel events that fed the debate, such as "Subnational Urban Agendas: Tools to increase multilevel collaboration" organized by the subnational government of the Basque Country, which had the participation of several Spanish regions which have developed or are developing sub-national urban agendas such as Andalusia, Extremadura, Catalonia, Valencia and the Basque Country itself.

Additionally, as part of the mobilisation towards the Eleventh session of the World Urban Forum, UN-Habitat held a reception for Mayors and high-level representatives, in which the Mayor of Katowice, Marcin Krupa and the Secretary of State of the Polish Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy, Małgorzata Jarosińska-Jedynak, participated highlighting that “the 11th World Urban Forum in Katowice, Poland, will address how to transform cities to make them friendly, green and accessible, leaving no one and no place behind .”