7 February 2020

Sustainability is a concept that is gaining traction today like never before. Whether it is elevating the conversation on environmental protection, renewable energy or resilient urban development, there is undoubtedly a reinvigorated commitment to take action on sustainability.

In Abu Dhabi, we will host the Tenth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10), bringing together thousands of the best urban thinkers, who are keen to drive positive change aimed at making cities more sustainable. By welcoming a diverse community of 20,000 people from more than 160 countries, including government leaders and key influencers, we will have an extraordinary opportunity to unlock the potential of sustainable development for a brighter future and a better world.

Over the years, WUF has become the most renowned international gathering for exchanging views and experiences on urban challenges. This session of the Forum will run from 8 to 13 February under the theme ”Cities of Opportunities: Connecting Culture and Innovation”. It will be held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces. This level of sponsorship reaffirms the unwavering support of our leaders to explore urban solutions and policies for the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, adopted at the Habitat III Conference, held in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In close partnership with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport is keen to maximize cultural and innovative solutions to some of the most urgent, emerging and ongoing urban challenges. The success of WUF10 is intrinsically linked to cooperation and partnerships between all local and regional parties, making the Forum a unique opportunity to formulate a unified vision of sustainable urban development with cities across the world, in line with economic, cultural, social and technological changes.

New digital technologies and artificial intelligence are some of the most prominent features of modern sustainable cities.

Our collective efforts are aimed at achieving the main goals of the New Urban Agenda. WUF10 also marks the beginning of the Decade of Action, a worldwide drive to implement the SDGs over the next 10 years. We believe that by sharing the latest advancements and techniques in building technology, renewable energy generation, mobility, heritage preservation and environmental protection, cities will benefit greatly as they continue to grow and develop with more resilience than ever before. It will enable them to apply a better model that suits the health, prosperity and future aspirations of residents and visitors. Achieving sustainability is inseparable from preserving the social, economic, environmental and cultural characteristics of cities.

Sustainability does not only mean learning from traditional building and development techniques, which have so much to teach us, but also from the intelligent use of such techniques. New digital technologies and artificial intelligence are some of the most prominent features of modern sustainable cities. WUF10 will be an opportunity to highlight the importance of urban development keeping pace with the digital revolution. The Forum aims to empower communities to pioneer smart city technology to enhance the quality and performance of sustainable urban services such as transport, energy and waste management. Employing technology in modern urbanization is the cornerstone of future sustainable urban development. Smart cities depend on data to deal with economic and social challenges and achieve sustainable development. Data enables better city planning and determines future levels of performance necessary to meet the needs of our societies.

H.E. Falah Al Ahbibi

WUF10 also provides an important platform to discuss the role of city planners in providing a culturally diverse environment that is in harmony with different groups of society, while still maintaining the cultural heritage at the heart of our cities. This is crucial when adopting approaches to create sustainable cities for future generations. Attention should be paid to innovation and culture that serve the means of development in a sustainable community, thus improving the quality of life.

In Abu Dhabi, we place the utmost importance in finding solutions that unify concepts and standards in sustainable urban development to coordinate planning in a way that will serve future generations. We are currently accelerating the pace of sustainable development, focusing on improving the lives of our people while ensuring that our heritage is still heavily woven into the fabric of the Emirate. Abu Dhabi aims to raise its standards to the highest international benchmarks when it comes to sustainable urban development, in accordance with UAE Vision 2071 and the goals of the National Agenda 2021. This requires us to adhere to the path of implementing the SDGs locally, and specifically Goal 11 on sustainable cities and communities.

The Forum is a unique opportunity for stakeholders to lead the debate on sustainable urban development, define work priorities and commit to the implementation of global development agendas.

Today, we see a great opportunity in the World Urban Forum to refocus priorities and exchange knowledge about innovative practices to advance the sustainable development of cities, not just locally but around the world. Relying on accurate data and modern technology also contributes to the Abu Dhabi Development Accelerators Program—Ghadan 21 (Tomorrow 21), which ensures that Abu Dhabi becomes a beacon of technology and innovation that is capable of bringing long-term economic and social change.

At WUF10, daily discussions will be held on topics related to border technologies, sustainable planning and heritage preservation. These panel discussions will bring together a diverse group of high-level officials from all over the world. The Forum is a unique opportunity for stakeholders to lead the debate on sustainable urban development, define work priorities and commit to the implementation of global development agendas. In Abu Dhabi, there will be 16 roundtable meetings that include political leaders, key decision makers, professionals and thought leaders, representing ministers, mayors and youth.

Five assemblies will be held simultaneously, bringing together local and regional governments as well as business leaders to discuss the future of our world's cities, towns and societies, and how all of them can contribute to sustainable development. The Forum will include an exhibition that offers innovative and sustainable solutions to challenges that cities and societies face, as well as experimenting and brainstorming initiatives and opportunities for producing ideas, exchanging experiences, deriving innovative solutions and discussing best practices in sustainable urban development.

To these ends, we invite all specialists, investors, entrepreneurs and creative minds in sustainable urban development to take part in WUF10 with forward-thinking initiatives; engage with like-minded individuals to advance to more sustainable urban models in our cities; and ensure that we continue our efforts to ignite powerful global changes in sustainable urban development.


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