Programme designed to engage students in the World Urban Forum (WUF10) and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
ABU DHABI, 21st April 2019: The Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities (DPM) kicked off its WUF “UniverCity’ Programme at Cityscape exhibition last week. During the exhibition, the DPM invited 11 leading universities in the UAE to attend a session at its stand where professors and students were briefed on the tenth session of the World Urban Forum 10 (WUF10) taking place in Abu Dhabi in 2020. A presentation was given to the students on the importance of youth involvement in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and on the objectives assigned to the SDG Youth Advisory Council created in October 2018
The theme of WUF10 is ‘Cities of Opportunities: Connecting Culture and Innovation’. For the first time, culture, creativity and innovation will be at the center of the global conversation about the livability, vitality and sustainability of cities. Creativity and cultural diversity have always been key drivers of urban success. Cities now require public spaces for innovation and collaboration where youth can think and experiment. It is already known that the skills in demand in the next 10-15 years require fluency of ideas, creativity, ability to think systemically, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
The ‘UniverCity’ platform which has been spearheaded by the DPM in partnership with the regional office of UN-Habitat is designed to support dedicated sessions at the WUF10 campus, SDGs and the second session of the Pan-Arab Urban Development Symposium (PAUDS). The initiative has a number of key objectives, most important of those is to establish a two-way collaborative research initiative that taps into the resources, knowledge and expertise of the DPM and its strategic partners and universities across the Arab world. The initiative also aims to build active participation from students and universities in shaping the skills required for urban planners of the future and a process for co-creating a common future for urban planning with a particular focus on SDG 11. What the programme promotes is that we have a lot to gain by sharing experiences and creating meaningful knowledge transfer mechanisms.
H.E. Falah Al Ahbabi, Chairman of the DPM said: “Universities occupy a strategic role in shaping the next generation of leaders in the UAE. We want to motivate young people across the UAE to learn about urban development and contribute to the shared goals of the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda. This programme is a crucial component of engaging young people with WUF and furthermore in new ways of thinking about the development of our cities.”
Students and professors from well-known Emirati Universities attended the DPM’s University Day at Cityscape. They were invited at the WUF lounge to complete the SDG 11 backdrop and indicate which target is a priority to them. The main outcome of this exercise was a list of cross-sectoral priorities to improve sustainable management in Arab Cities. Students identified these challenges as areas of shared interest where collaboration and innovation can transform the way Arab Cities will tackle urban sustainable development.
In the lead up to WUF10 the WUF ‘UniverCity’ programme will involve expert planners from the DPM participating in a range of events including university lecture series at universities across the UAE, and exploring the 4 initiatives that the DPM will be developing along with its strategic partners centered around its 4 pillars scheme (city investment platform, cultural indicators, inclusive cities and environmental initiatives) as well as editorials and podcasts that will be hosted on the PAUDS website.