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An International Introduction

By Victoria Baker

It was a little over a month since I had graduated high school when I was first introduced to the concept of urban planning.

My mother and I were taking the scenic route home, discussing the problems and frustrations regarding the layout of our own automotive city. I must have been particularly passionate about this topic, because after a few minutes of conversation she asked me “why don’t you become an urban planner?” I thought about it for a good thirty to forty seconds before asking her, “But what is an urban planner?”

A little less than eight months later I found myself at the largest, most international gathering on urbanization in the world. It was a surreal experience, exploring the conference centre located in downtown Abu Dhabi, UAE. For a moment it was hard to rationalize that I was really there rather than in a university lecture hall that I had become accustomed to.

The tenth session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10) proved to be an excellent learning experience for me. As a prospective biologist, I was initially very interested in learning about what the cities of today as well as the cities of tomorrow are doing to combat the ongoing climate crisis. I had expected the conference to be limited to presentations on urban farming expanding green spaces and carbon-free technology. I was pleasantly surprised to find not only were there various discussions on climate change - but that urban planning was a much broader subject than I had previously imagined.