The Seventh Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF7) is taking place for the first time in Colombia.  Medellín hosts the forum which opened its doors April 5th  and whose focus is ‘Urban Equality in Development – Cities for Life.’

The Forum is being held at the Plaza Mayor Convention and Exhibition Centre, located in the business district of Medellín.

The forum is an initiative of UN Habitat, the United Nations agency for human settlements, which is mandated to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.  It is now estimated that 50 percent of the global population live in cities, and of that, two-thirds live in urban areas where income inequality has increased dramatically over the last twenty years.

Given the huge and exponential growth of cities and urban populations across the world over the past decades, this forum intends to discuss key urban challenges such as crime, disease, pollution, poverty and social unrest with a wide range of participants to share common experiences and work together to tackle some of these fundamental issues.  In the Colombian context, access to transportation, health care, clean water and electricity are major problems in cities, highlighting some of the huge challenges this forum will attempt to address.

Representatives from the World Urban Youth Assembly, the Gender Equality Action Assembly and other groups are present to ensure the issues tabled are relevant to as wider segment of society as possible. The forum’s aim is to holistically analyse cities as important centres for human development and provide information and evidence to assist UN Habitat to enrich global policy on the theme of sustainable urbanisation.  The World Urban Campaign, a global advocacy platform committed to sustainable urban development, will be organising several sessions, dialogues and roundtables at the forum.

As global attention begins to focus on the second largest city in Colombia, analysts have applauded the creativity and innovation behind Medellin’s development and prosperity, highlighting projects such as the Metrocables and public libraries that have attracted so much attention and received hugely positive feedback. Indeed, the city of Medellín has been appointed the most innovative city in the world (Innovative City of the Year) by the Urban Land Institute (ULI), lead by The Wall Street Journal and Citibank.

However, despite Medellin’s reputation as a ‘city in transformation’, it still has its share of urban problems and as the forum is taking place here, key Colombian themes such as the increase of urban slums due to displaced populations and the ever-present impact of drug trafficking will no doubt be discussed.

As Colombia is hauled out of its dangerous past and reinvents its international reputation, it is encouraging to see that progressive institutions and organisations recognise the huge improvements the country has undergone.  Events such as this help to raise Colombia’s status and focus on the positive developments this country has seen as well as tackling some of the deep-rooted and very real problems that those living in cities in Colombia know all too well.

will be organising several sessions, dialogues and roundtables at the forum.

As global attention begins to focus on the second largest city in Colombia, analysts have applauded the creativity and innovation behind Medellin’s development and prosperity, highlighting projects such as the Metrocables and public libraries that have attracted so much attention and received hugely positive feedback. Indeed, the city of Medellín has been appointed the most innovative city in the world (Innovative City of the Year) by the Urban Land Institute (ULI), lead by The Wall Street Journal and Citibank.

However, despite Medellin’s reputation as a ‘city in transformation’, it still has its share of urban problems and as the forum is taking place here, key Colombian themes such as the increase of urban slums due to displaced populations and the ever-present impact of drug trafficking will no doubt be discussed.

As Colombia is hauled out of its dangerous past and reinvents its international reputation, it is encouraging to see that progressive institutions and organisations recognise the huge improvements the country has undergone.  Events such as this help to raise Colombia’s status and focus on the positive developments this country has seen as well as tackling some of the deep-rooted and very real problems that those living in cities in Colombia know all too well.