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Stories from WUF10

By Aleem Aamir, UNA-Canada Service Corps delegate

My name is Aleem and I am an undergraduate student from Montreal, QC. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend UN-Habitat’s Tenth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10) in Abu Dhabi, UAE as a UNA Canada Service Corps delegate. WUF is the world’s leading forum on urbanization, and decisions impacting cities, and I was very excited to meet with experts in the fields of public health, education, and housing.

The first thing that struck me about WUF10 was the people; the event had over 13 000 participants, and I felt as though there was something to learn from each and every one of them.

It was quite informative and eye-opening to be able to speak to ambassadors, ministers, professionals, and NGO members from around the world. They each had slightly different approaches to their unique challenges, but it was also striking to see how many similarities there we have in spite of our unique experiences. This was quite apparent when we met the Canadian delegation arranged by Ambassador & High Commissioner Lisa Stadelbauer where I had the opportunity to speak with amazing experts from the Canadian diaspora around the world.

Moreover, I had the opportunity to meet other involved and motivated youth from around the world, with whom it may be possible to collaborate in the future. I also have to mention my own delegation from UNA Canada, which was made up of an incredible mix of talented people from all across Canada who gave me so much to learn from over the course of the two weeks. My favorite event at WUF10 was co-hosted by UN-Habitat & UNICEF, facilitated by Robert Ndugwa and Dr. Samuel Godfrey, respectively: Call for Action on Multiple Deprivations in Sub-Saharan Cities. This event was about a study in Ghana, Kenya, & Zambia, which is due to launch by the end of March. The study aimed to make secondary cities more livable, and I enjoyed it because it covered many of the key themes I wished to learn more about at WUF10.

Secondary cities typically have populations 100,000 ~ 500,000 people and are the primary reception centers of rural-urban migration. However, they are challenged because they are not prepared for the population explosion; Robert Ndugwa asked the question: “What are we doing to correct the wrongs of yesterday that we have witnessed in the bigger towns?” Ndugwa went on to say that most of the urban growth will happen in the smaller

towns and cities of today… so this is where we can do a lot of corrections!

The study also pointed out several key deprivations in secondary cities. In these “multiple deprivation” areas, secondary cities have worse performance indicators than both primary cities and rural communities. In particular, they are:

● Income & employment

● Health

● Water & Sanitation

● Housing

● Others (education, access to services, etc.)

Dr. Godfrey emphasized that in each of these indicators, the most harshly

impacted stakeholders will be children, and these factors will have profound impacts on their lives and development.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed my experience at WUF10. It gave me the opportunity to grow a lot as a person by broadening my worldview, showing me new and unique perspectives, and allowing me to meet incredible people.


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