ABU DHABI, UAE –The Tenth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF 10) wrapped up last week in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. From 8-13 February, the UAE served as the first Arab nation to host the WUF, the world’s leading conference on cities and human settlements. Convened by UN-Habitat, the United Nations agency for human settlements, the WUF was established in 2001 to address the mega-trend of urbanization and its impacts on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies.

Through six Dialogue Sessions and over 400 events, WUF10 was attended by around 13,000 representatives – including youth, people living with disabilities and indigenous groups – from national, subnational and local governments, international and regional organizations, grassroots groups, civil society, and the private sector. The six days of discussions centered around the theme “Cities of Opportunities: Connecting Culture and Innovation” and how cultural practices and innovative approaches could be harnessed as drivers for sustainable urbanization.

At a special session on climate change, Prime Minister Bainimarama encouraged global leaders to tap local cultural practices– including lessons drawn from Pacific Islanders’ longstanding respect for the natural world – to shape the climate for the better, rather than allowing climate change to reshape culture.

The Prime Minister also re-affirmed Fiji’s commitment to achieving carbon-neutral societies by 2050 through the implementation of the Pacific Urban Agenda, a plan which tailors the aspirations of the New Urban Agenda to the Pacific’s frontline realities.

Presenting the outcomes fromThe Fifth Pacific Urban Forum (PUF5) which was held in Fiji in 2019, Bernhard Barth, UN-Habitat Officer, said, “The threats posed by climate change and urbanization were well recognized, as well as the necessity to tackle them collectively as a region through better integrated regional projects.”He went on to reiterate that Pacific leaders had agreed that stronger Institutional and Political Anchoring in the region was needed through engagement with each other and through the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

Also present was Mr. Sanaka Samarasinha, UN Resident Coordinator for ten countries in the Pacific. Speaking as part of a panel that included high-level delegates from Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands, and Kiribati, Mr. Samarasinha called for greater engagement between the UN in the Pacific and local governments and mayors on accessing sustainable development financing, citizen empowerment and vertical dialogue with the national government.“Additionally, I encourage the cities of the Pacific to join the Global Compact on Inclusive and Accessible Cities with the support of the UN so that cities across the Pacific will become cities of opportunity – for all,” he concluded.

last Tuesday, UN Habitat’s Resilient Settlements for the Urban Poor (RISE UP) flagship program was launched by the Fijian Prime Minister along the margins of WUF.

The RISE UP program aims to improve the social-economic prosperity of urban poor communities by reducing climate disruptions to livelihoods and protecting them from the monetary or social costs of climate disasters and enhancing service provision.

In a ten-page document released on Thursday, the WUF detailed the Abu Dhabi Declared Actions. In it, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction in partnership with UCLG, ICLEI, the World Bank, UN-Habitat, the World Council on City Data and the Global Resilient Cities Network (Rockefeller Foundation) committed to making cities resilient by 2030, during the Decade of Action, through support to cities from their tools and knowledge products, their regional offices and networks and improved coordination with national governments and leaders of local governments.

The UN Resident Coordinators System also committed to, among other things, endeavoring to work with governments and local and non-state actors in the areas of spatial equality and poverty eradication, prosperity and economic development, climate action and environmental sustainability, and crisis reduction and recovery.

The next World Urban Forum will be held in Poland in 2022.