News in 2020

United Nations 10th session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10)

8 - 13 February 2020, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

FIG Vice President Dr Diane Dumashie attended the tenth session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates from 18-13th February 2020

The World Urban Forum (WUF 10) is convened by UN-Habitat in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport, the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and  General Secretariat of the Executive Council. 

The theme of the World Urban Forum this year is ‘Cities of Opportunities: Connecting Culture and Innovation’, to debate the issues around sustainable urban development.  Importantly there is a sense of urgency, there are only ten years left to achieve the SDGs by the target date of 2030. WUF10 will be the first major UN event of the Decade of Action which starts this month and calls for accelerating sustainable solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.

WUF 10 is the largest global conference on urbanization ever to meet in the Arab region.  Abu Dhabi, meaning 'Land of the Gazelle' in Arabic, is the federal capital of the United Arab Emirates and is the largest of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE).   The venue was the ultra-modern, premier Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, an immense forum able to comfortably host the recorded 13,000 participants.

WUF10 Expo area Abu Dhabi 2020 © UN-Habitat/Babu Lal.

WUF10 General area Abu Dhabi 2020 : UN-Habitat/ Azeem Baig

UN-Habitat has a decade-long experience in organizing and convening the World Urban Forum (WUF) as a premier international gathering on urban issues.  Since its inception in Nairobi, Kenya in 2002 the Forum has grown consistently in stature (footnote 1: other WUF locations)

Opening, the UN-Habitat Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif said:”The world has really changed since the first World Urban Forum back in 2002. Urbanization is now recognized as one of the defining trends of the times. But ultimately the aim has remained constant – to promote transformative change to improve living conditions for everyone.”

UN-Habitat Executive Director Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif gives her remarks during the Joint Opening for Assemblies in Abu Dhabi 2020 © UN-Habitat/Julius Mwelu

UN-Habitat Executive Director, Maimunah Mohd Sharif

The theme of WUF 10 ‘Cities of Opportunities: Connecting Culture and Innovation’, aimed to focus on harnessing culture and innovation as drivers of sustainable urban development.  With 4.4 billion people living in the world’s urban areas, cities are humanity’s real building blocks with their economic contribution, ever increasing population, high density, cultural diversity, political dominance, and innovative edge. As urban areas become more heterogeneous, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-lingual, culture and innovation are becoming mutually reinforcing means of supporting sustainable urban development.

Headlining the proceedings are six thematic dialogues exploring how culture and innovation can contribute to sustainable urbanization. These themes include urbanisation issues around: Culture & Innovative Technologies, driving sustainable urbanization, urban planning & heritage Preservation/Regeneration, and partnerships & initiatives (see

Alongside High Level Dialogues and Roundtables, there are Assemblies for young people, women, local and regional governments, grassroots communities and business, as well as 400 events hosted by partners.  
WUF 10 debating forums innovatively encourage discussion, featuring an Urban Expo with over 133 exhibitors from 68 countries, a Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Zone, an Urban Library and the UN-Habitat Better Cities Film Festival.  Throughout the week  450 speakers addressed Global leaders, Experts, Academics, Ministers, Mayors, Policy makers, Business people, Land and built environment professionals and Community leaders.

Exhibition WUF 10 © UN-Habitat/Julius Mwelu.

 WUF 10


The Forum meetings are divided into dialogue sessions, special sessions, roundtables, youth, gender and business assemblies, networking events, caucus meetings, training events along with an exciting array of side events, exhibitions, cultural events and much more. See foot note below and described at:

It is highly recommended to be well organised with a schedule in order to productively either join one meeting or move between them.   

To provide a flavour Vice President Diane Dumashie attended:

  • Global Innovations in Land Value Capture for Sustainable and Equitable cities: Lincoln institute of land policy, USA
  • UK Government Partnerships for Sustainable Cities; innovative programs and tools: Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK
  • Circular economy: changing the way we think about jobs: UNEP
  • A call to action on sustainable urbanisation at CHOGM 2020: Ministry of Infrastructure Rwanda
  • SDG Action Zone: 
    An incredible debating forum with 360 degree view of the panel and the audience sitting comfortably in a selection of seating arrangements including chairs, soft benches and bean bags!

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Zone Abu Dhabi 2020, copyright: UN-Habitat/ Waseem Ali 

D Dumashie on the GLTN Special Session panel on Land Governance and Urban Growth

  • Leveraging partnership to achieve success in monitoring and influencing the implementing of the SDG 11; habitat for Humanity International USA
  • Delivering the SDGs and NUA in Ghana: Ministry of planning Ghana
  • Training urban resilience for African cities: leveraging resilience to develop a new culture of urbanisation (part attended), ARUP International development

In addition, 

  • VP Diane Dumashie was an invited panellist onto the GLTN Special Session on Land governance and urban growth - Leveraging land value to achieve sustainable Urbanization. The event aimed to share knowledge about successful and innovative approaches to foster and finance sustainable urbanisation by unlocking the potential of land-based financing and revenue generation. Diane’s contribution was drawn from her knowledge of land governance, land markets and urbanisation. In particular show casing GLTN’s work on Valuation of unregistered lands a project undertaken in partnership with FIG under the professional cluster. And also drawing on RICS research on this topic published in 2013, 2016 and 2018 (see

GLTN key partners. Left: Robert Lewis-Lettington head of Land, Housing and Shelter Section and Lead GLTN, Centre: Diane Dumashie Vice President FIG, Right: Danilo Antonio GLTN.

Our partner events:
A number of partner land-related events were attended during the WUF week.

  • GLTN partners breakfast meeting, the full GLTN list is at:
  • Habitats Professionals Forum, a partners meeting attended on behalf of FIG Council
  • Leveraging partnership to achieve success in monitoring and influencing the implementing of the SDG 11; habitat for Humanity International USA
  • Handbook for Gender-inclusive Urban planning and design; World Bank Group Launch event

The full WUF 10 program may be found here:

In conclusion, WUF is the premier international gathering for exchanging views and experiences on sustainable urbanization in all its aspects. It ends with the Abu Dhabi Declared Actions that includes commitments from international organizations, national, local and regional governments, the private sector, civil society, academia and others for the next two years and beyond to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed by world leaders in 2015. It also provides partners and participants space to declare their actions and contribute to the common goal of accelerating the achievement of sustainable urban development for all. 

This is truly a huge event, with large gatherings taking place simultaneously bringing together a multiplicity of actors to discuss how they can all contribute to sustainable development. It is a stimulating and ideal place to forge new partnerships, share knowledge and network.

If you wish to understand cutting edge discussions, rub shoulders with your own network but crucially those of others, registration for WUF is open to everyone, free of charge with the next WUF 11 scheduled to be held in Poland in 2022.

For more information on WUF and its programme go to

Footnote1 – WUF past Global venues

Barcelona in 2004, Vancouver in2006, Nanjing in 2008, Rio de Janeiro in 2010, Naples in 2012, Medellin in 2014, and Kuala Lumpur in 2018

Footnote 2 How it works

Abridged from

  • Dialogue sessions 6 early morning daily high-profile dialogues, featuring lively, informative discussions on themes range from frontier technologies and sustainable cities to urban planning and heritage preservation.
  • The Networking Events:  Lasting two hours focusing on strengthening partnerships, calling for new alliances or launching joint initiatives on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Side events related to the overall WUF10 theme and will last one hour including receptions, showcasing projects, research, data, knowledge and initiatives relating to the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.
  • Training events UN agencies, partner’s universities, local governments, capacity development institutions and other stakeholders provide up to 30 training on a range of topics lasting three hours.
  • Special sessions – 10 in-depth discussions arranged on implementing the New Urban Agenda to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Stakeholder roundtables  with 16 roundtables scheduled, it is unique opportunity for stakeholders to lead the debate on sustainable urban development and prioritize action and commitments to implement global development agendas.
  • The exhibition An international World Urban Forum exhibition, the Urban Expo, will be open throughout the Forum. This will showcase t

Expo area training Abu Dhabi 2020 © UN-Habitat/Babu Lal,

Women’s Assembly, Abu Dhabi 2020 © UN-Habitat/ Azeem Baig,

Urban Library, Abu Dhabi 2020 © UN-Habitat/ Mayur


WUF 10 Final Declared Actions


Diane Dumashie
3 April 2020