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WUF10 opens in Abu Dhabi


The Tenth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10), the largest meeting on the future of cities, opened with thousands of participants representing youth, women, grassroot communities, local and regional governments and business holding lively discussions in five concurrently run Assemblies.

At the Joint Opening of the Assemblies, attended by representatives of all five, the Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, urged WUF10 participants to focus on concrete outcomes.

“I know that we share a common vision of sustainable and safer cities. We will go further today. We know that urbanization is unstoppable,” she said at the first event of the six-day meeting being held for the first time in the Arab region.

The Youth Assembly was represented at the Joint Opening by Leah Namugerwa, a 15-year old climate activist from Uganda and founder of the youth climate action group Fridays for Future, who told participants they were good at planning but fell short on implementation.

“I am here to promote action to ensure that children and youth are truly represented in your decisions making processes. We must take action. There is no time left… Please take serious climate action now,” she pleaded.

The Chair of the Global Board of the Huairou Commission, Ms. Violet Shivutse said women were coming to cities for various reasons and faced several challenges including housing, inadequate provision of child care facilities, and lack of security.

“We may be poor, homeless, and landless, but we are not hopeless,” she concluded.The Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Amanah Malaysia, Mr. Arsalan Ahmed, pointed out that while the public sector is an enabler, the private sector should provide the international financial capital required to ensure sustainability.

Following the Opening Session, delegates rushed to attend the various Assemblies taking place concurrently. Over in the Business Assembly UN-Habitat’s Deputy Executive Director Victor Kisob said that creating well-functioning, sustainable cities required massive funding and this should be turned into an opportunity for investors.

“As the global leader on sustainable urbanization, UN-Habitat is capitalising on its unique position to rally a broad spectrum of partners to innovate cities of the future,” he said.

In the Women’s Assembly Hoda Alkhzaimi President of Emirates Digital Association for Women spoke about the main challenges being perceptions and the importance of “pushing boundaries, breaking boxes and rebuilding norms.”Her words were echoed by Roheyatou Lowe Mayor of Banjul, Gambia who said her priority was to change the narrative to empower women and breaking down barriers to make her city a gender-responsive smart city.

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Maimunah Mohd SharifWUF10
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