People who care about cities and urban regions are gathering in Brazil. By the thousands they are coming from every corner of the globe to the 5th session of the World Urban Forum.
At a reclaimed harbor-side venue that not so long ago was a haven for crime and poverty representatives from cities, national governments, grassroots organizations, foundations, universities and a host of others will intermingle for five days.
For any veteran of the WUF experience there are two main reasons to participate – inspiration and innovation. Even a brief look at the 80-plus page program book will fulfill any expectations for thoughtful and compelling information. The full scope of workshops, debates, thematic general sessions, roundtables and exhibits do justice to the name of the gathering. This is truly the world’s forum for urban matters.
The U.S. government has fielded a strong delegation lead by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan. And for the first time in memory, there is a local government leader as part of the official national delegation from the United States. The President of the National League of Cities, Mayor Ron Loveridge of Riverside, Calif., will be a leading voice for American cities.
Those of us who are immersed in the workings of cities and urban regions, especially from highly developed nations like the United States, go to WUF armed with case studies, research papers, global contacts and a desire to offer the best of our experiences. But we come home just like everybody else, inspired by the true wealth that the world has to offer, and with a briefcase full of innovative examples that can be applied to our own circumstances.