Presentation: Lessons from the Ninth World Urban Forum

Presentation by Commissioner Anthony Perl on his takeaways from the 9th World Urban Forum.

Perl slides

Slide Transcripts

Four lessons from the Ninth World Urban Forum

From February 7 to February 13  23,000 people gathered in Kuala Lumpur for the 9th World Urban Forum.

WUF9 was the most diverse urban gathering ever convened by the United Nations.

  • 164 nationalities represented among delegates
  • 90% of LDC’s represented
  • More than 100 ministerial level delegations (but NOT Canada     )
  • 45% of delegates were women
  • 40% under 32 years old

The Kuala Lumpur Declaration emphasized the need to implement the New Urban Agenda from the ground up.

The first principle of the KL Declaration relies on dialogue as an enabler of civic engagement:

Strengthening the role of subnational and local governments, urban  governance systems that ensure continuous dialogue among different levels of government and participation of all actors, and increasing multilevel and cross-sectoral coordination, transparency and accountability.

I learned four lessons at WUF9 that could help guide VCPC’s strategy for building a fruitful dialogue:

  1. Shame
  2. Prayer
  3. Trust
  4. Random scrutiny

Lesson 1

Channel energy from the shame of your city to begin engagement on the NUA (New Urban Agenda).

Vancouver has plenty to be ashamed of;  but we are not alone in the world when it comes to developing solutions that meet basic human needs.

Lesson 2

Public officials should take inspiration from the daily prayers of those seeking help from a higher power.

Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini identified prayer as a focus for urban servant leadership.

Urban leaders should try and answer the prayers of those who call for help in this way.

Lesson 3

Local officials have the greatest opportunity to gain and keep the trust needed to achieve the NUA.

According to Carola Gunnarsson, Mayor of Sala, Sweden, it’s all about trust.

The NUA will require more than the incremental change that higher orders of government usually offer.

People need to trust local leaders who go out on a limb trying to change “Business as Usual.”

Inspiring confidence that the NUA will result in widespread benefits is both necessary and possible in urban governance.

Lesson 4

A new mode of scrutiny is needed to recharge urban democracy.

What is the cure for “Democracy fatigue”?

Choosing random citizens to examine local government (in)actions could bring new energy to Vancouver’s civic engagement.


Can these and other lessons from WUF9 help open the door to Vancouver’s pursuit of the New Urban Agenda?