Conferences and workshops, Publications

What Can Urban Sustainability Experiments Do? (Our Side Event at the World Urban Forum)


Many thanks to everybody who came to our session at the UN-Habitat World Urban Forum (WUF9) last week in Kuala Lumpur.

WUF has become a major biennial event – this year attracting 22,000 participants from around the world. In its own words, it is “recognised as the foremost global arena for interaction among policymakers, local government leaders, non-governmental organizations and expert practitioners in the field of sustainable urban development and human settlements”.  This year’s theme was Cities 2030 – Cities for All: Implementing the New Urban Agenda (the New Urban Agenda having been adopted in October 2016 at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development – Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador).

Our own side event aimed to explore the potential benefits and limitations of urban experiments, with regard to the New Urban Agenda and recently published UN Sustainable Development Goals. It included short vignettes of different types of urban experimentation, presented by David Hees (on the iShack solar energy project in Cape Town South Africa), Melissa Kerim-Dikeni (on the work of the Nelson Mandela Bay Regional Innovation Forum, also in Cape Town), Rob Cowley (on Corridor Manchester, UK), and May Tan-Mullins & Ali Cheshmehzangi (on smart experimentation in the city of Ningbo, China). These introductory presentations were followed by group discussions among the audience, who were invited to share their own experiences of the benefits and problems associated with urban experiments.

The event was coorganised and introduced by Rob Cowley and colleague Jon Phillips, who works on the Urban Energy Transformations research project in South Africa.

We have published a short report based on the audience discussion, which has been circulated to those who came along.  A video of the introductory presentations is also available to watch on YouTube, and the slides are available as a pdf here.


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