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The Youth Joined the French Delegation at the World Urban Forum

Held for the first time in Eastern Europe, the 11th edition of the World Urban Forum (WUF) was hosted by the city of Katowice from June 26 to 30, 2022 on the theme "Transforming our cities for a better urban future." A unique, multi-stakeholder UN platform, the WUF is an opportunity for member states, local governments, the private sector, and civil society to gather every two years and engage in constructive discussions on sustainable urbanization that will determine whether we succeed in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A total of 22,500 online and face-to-face registrations were made, representing a total of 173 countries.


During the opening ceremony, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Program, emphasized the importance of climate and environment-related action in improving the future of our cities through the development of greener, more sustainable, and more inclusive infrastructure. The city of Katowice itself is a good example of this goal: its industrial and mining heritage contrasts with the significant efforts made by its community to increase the city’s resilience and develop a more environmentally friendly economy.


The Young Ambassadors met Maimunah Mohd Sharif at the French Pavilion


In the wake of the recent health crisis and the war in Ukraine on the other side of the border, the issue of reconstruction was at the heart of many discussions at the forum. There has been a shift at WUF over the past 15 years from a focus on technical solutions to a focus on discourse and dialogue that directly address crises. The concept of nature-based solutions has begun to reappear in the form of workshops and conferences, thanks to their potential to respond to the sustainability challenges that cities face while simultaneously improving the quality of life they provide.


Our association, Jeunes Ambassadeurs pour l’Environnement (Young Ambassadors for the Environment) has brought the subject of urban nature to the Forum through several projects, which were noticed within the French delegation and applauded by the Ambassador of France in Poland.


The Young Ambassadors at the inauguration of the French Pavilion with the representatives of the delegation


Speeches were made at the Forum’s Youth Village and at the French Pavilion, and a workshop was held to present the actions young people are taking to reintegrate nature into their cities: a communal garden project, using nature as a post-conflict solution, urban planning and city governance, and more.


La table-ronde des jeunes au Pavillon France



Discussions such as those with the Botnar Foundation also took place in the various pavilions of the Urban Expo, where we, as young people, were able to share our ideas for the city of tomorrow.




Beyond discussions, the WUF also consisted of:

  • A space dedicated to youth, and a youth council to show the involvement of future generations in building a resilient urban future,

  • Thematic assemblies dedicated to women, youth, local authorities, and businesses, as well as a people's assembly, to explore the perspectives and contributions of each party to the New World Urban Agenda,

  • And the formation of a Youth “DeclarAction” presenting young people’s commitments to the city of tomorrow and their recommendations to the world’s stakeholders (national governments, local governments, UN agencies, intergovernmental organizations, civil society, and the private sector).

The WUF came to an end at the closing ceremony on June 30. The Polish Secretary of State of the Ministry of Development Funds & Regional Policy and head of organization of the Forum, Małgorzata Jarosińska-Jedynak, emphasized the importance of inclusiveness and adaptation for people with disabilities for this eleventh edition. This is a step forward in achieving the SDGs and a practice to continue in the construction of the city of tomorrow.


These pillars constitute a guideline for the declaration that will soon be issued following WUF11, as presented by Martha Delgado, President of the UN-Habitat Assembly. This document will be a roadmap that:

  • Addresses concerns about the lack of progress in achieving the SDGs,

  • Urges a shift from incremental and step-by-step adaptation to more radical and fundamental changes in urban settings,

  • Stresses the need to focus on the increasingly imminent urban crises,

  • And affirms that culture is an integral part of the response to urban challenges, and that accessibility and shared design are part of transformative action.

This roadmap echoes the message of Maimunah Sharif, Director of UN-Habitat, who reminded us that, looking ahead to the next WUF to be held in Cairo, Egypt, there are only 19 months, “2,742 days," left to achieve the SDGs. Therefore, the time to act to ensure a more sustainable world is now.

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