A Common Language

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The translation service companies are very busy on this first day of the 5th World Urban Forum. Portuguese, Spanish, English and French are the dominant languages spoken but there are others too numerous to count which can be heard on the panels and in the corridors. 

Interestingly enough, the words “municipal” and “local” vary little from language to language. That’s the first thing you notice about the events at WUF.  Despite the number of people present from around the world there is a common language among these “locales,” among these “municipalists.”

Yes the tongue is different from leader to leader, from participant to participant. But the language, when discussing livability, sustainability, community, mobility, inclusivity and humanity is the same. 

Pick a spot on the globe and you can easily identify the issues that divide people. Here in Rio it’s all about the issues that unite people and which demand collective attention. 

Solutions require a common understanding of a problem. The folks here at WUF understand one another. In a real sense, they speak the same language. That bodes well for the cities and regions that are at the center of this conference.