11 April 2014: Participants at the seventh session of the World Urban Forum (WUF 7) adopted the Medellín Declaration, which recognizes the transformational power of cities and describes equity as the foundation of sustainable urban development. Signatories also support the inclusion of an urban Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) in the post-2015 development agenda.
WUF 7, organized by the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), convened in Medellín, Colombia, on 5-11 April 2014, under the theme 'Urban Equity in Development – Cities for Life.' The Forum included: plenaries; round tables; assemblies on gender equality, urban youth, business and children; and dialogues on: equity in urban development law; urban planning and design for social cohesion; innovative financing instruments for local authorities; basic services: local businesses for equitable cities; raising standards of urban resilience; and a safe city as a just and equitable city. Also at the Forum, UN-HABITAT and partners launched the Medellín Collaboration on Urban Resilience.
The Declaration highlights the need for, inter alia: an urbanization model that puts people first and fosters social cohesion; comprehensive and participatory planning; national urban policies; gender equality and balanced land development; better urban resilience to climate change and other disasters; and safe, affordable transportation. The Declaration highlights the post-2015 agenda, SDGs and Third UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in 2016 as opportunities to affirm the importance of well-planned cities and the potential for urbanization to be a positive force for present and future generations.
During a session on the post-2015 development agenda, Raf Tuts, UN-HABITAT, observed a window of opportunity for including sustainable urban development in the SDGs. Cynthia Rosenzweig, Columbia University, said the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has identified elements for an urban SDG, including social inclusion, economic prosperity, a healthy environment, resilience to shocks, and safety. Maruxa Cardama, Communitas, proposed targets on, inter alia: slum conditions and housing; inclusive territorial planning; universal access to affordable and sustainable public services; safe public spaces; and resilience. Panelists urged using metrics, base lines and disaggregated data to measure progress.
The ‘World Urban Campaign (WUC): Towards a New Urban Paradigm' session discussed 'The City We Need' booklet as a response to 'The Future We Want.' Underscoring the need to “re-think, re-imagine and re-engineer” cities, Eugenie Birch, WUC, characterized slums, the lack of core infrastructure and basic services and the shortage of safe, affordable housing as “global embarrassments.”
In the closing session, UN-HABITAT Executive Director Joan Clos recommended a stand-alone SDG on cities and human settlements in the post-2015 agenda.
Over 22,000 participants from more than 140 countries representing governments, UN agencies, NGOs, urban professionals, local authorities and academics attended WUF 7. [IISD RS Meeting Coverage] [UN-HABITAT Press Release on Opening] [UN-HABITAT Press Release on Urban Financing] [UN-HABITAT Press Release on Closing] [UN-HABITAT Press Release on Medellín Collaboration on Urban Resilience] [UN Press Release] [IISD RS Story on The City We Need]