HIC @ World Urban Forum 11
From 25 to 30 June, Habitat International Coalition and several Members attended the 11th World Urban Forum (WUF) in Katowice, Poland. Held in a hybrid format, this biennial WUF gathered 10,799 in-person participants from 155 countries.” In her opening address, UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif reminded that “We only have 2,743 days left to implement the New Urban Agenda and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals’s.” That motto hovered over the week-long proceedings.
Organized every two years by UN-Habitat, WUF issues no decisions or binding commitments, but is an important gathering of practitioners and organizations related to cities and human settlement development globally. Over the five days, 17,003 people from 155 countries attended the Forum, a testament to the diversity in participation, reflected also in the official and parallel program. As in previous sessions, WUF11 was a marketplace of diverse and, at times, conflicting visions and approaches to urban development.
As usual, HIC carried out activities both inside and outside the main Forum, with a focus on learning, networking and coalition-building. Among the main activities carried out were the HIC General Assembly (25 June), a series of side events organized by HIC structures and Members, as well as parallel activities in the collective “Habitat Village” in the WUF exhibition hall, shared with the Cohabitat Network and World Habitat.
Beyond the usual review of activities and updates from Reference Centers and Board Members, this year’s GA celebrated HIC’s 45 (+1)-year anniversary in the first combined in-person gathering since COVID, with Members joining also online. Looking to HIC’s future, the Assembly features strategic small-group discussions on the four areas of HIC Member competence: Gender, Environment, Production and Human Rights, This year, the GA also focused on housing and land issues related to onloing conflict, occupation and war.
As a networking event inside WUF, HIC-HLRN hosted a brainstorming session on UN-Habitat stakeholder engagement and the prospective self-organized Stakeholder Engagement Mechanism (SEM). With HIC Secretary-General Yolande Hendler’s welcome and moderation, the panel of Lucia Kiwale (Partnership and Local Government Unit, UN Habitat), Siraj Sait (Stakeholder Advisory Group Enterprise) and Joseph Schechla (HIC-HLRN) updated participants on the process toward developing a self-organized SEM. This new relationship for policy deliberation was promised for new UN-Habitat with its revised governance structure since 2019. The networking event also provided an opportunity to review the rich history and evolution of UN Habitat stakeholder engagement since 1976.
With HIC as an original volunteer in the Stakeholder Engagement Mechanism Working Group to proffer advice and proposals to UN-Habitat’s governance bodies, the session served as one more channel of recommendations for UN Habitat’s Executive Board, in anticipation of its policy decision on the subject at the June 2023 UN Habitat Assembly.
Another cause for celebration at WUF11 was the presentation of World Habitat’s annual award for innovation presented to a project of Beirut’s Public Works Studio. The Housing Monitor is a housing rights project that maintains a safe and secure database for people to report housing violations, and responds to individuals’ housing needs with access to legal and social services. The Housing Monitor builds awareness among vulnerable groups, particularly refugees and migrant domestic workers, who have limited legal representation and/or knowledge of their housing rights.
In Lebanon, housing policy provides little protection to tenants, meaning more than half the population of Beirut lacks housing security. Lebanon’s economic collapse and the 2021 Beirut port explosion have exacerbated the housing crisis and left low-income renters open to poor living conditions, rent hikes and illegal evictions.
In this context, the project has received 603 reports of housing injustices, to which it has responded to 472 cases with targeted interventions. So far, Housing Monitor has prevented the eviction of 92 households and negotiated better housing security for hundreds of people. Housing Monitor also mobilizes local advocacy to demand housing policy reform. As the first project of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa region, Housing Monitor is giving vulnerable communities a voice to demand their basic housing rights and campaign for a more equitable society.
HIC-HLRN contributions to the UN-Habitat stakeholder-engagement policy process:
Proposal for a UN Habitat Stakeholder-engagement Mechanism (Summary)
Proposal for a UN Habitat Stakeholder-engagement Mechanism
Report of “Stakeholder Engagement Mechanism for Sustainable Development” Networking Event
Proposed structure for UN-Habitat Stakeholder Engagement Policy
Toward an Institutional Mechanism for Stakeholder Engagement in the New UN Habitat Governance
Stakeholder Engagement Mechanism for Sustainable Development
Toward a New Stakeholder Compact for the New Urban Agenda
Milestones in UN Habitat’s Cooperation with Stakeholders: Forward and Backward
Charting UN Habitat-Stakeholder Engagement
Integrating the engagement of local governments and stakeholders in UN HABITAT
Photo on front page: HIC Members and officers at the General Assembly, Katowice, 25 June 2022. Source: HIC-GS. Image on this page: Flyer and invitation to the HIC-HLRN-organized networking event on the UN-Habitat SEM, 29 June 2022. Source: HIC-HLRN.