Driven by current research by WRI Ross Center, the Coalition for Urban Transitions and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, this event at the ninth session of the World Urban Forum (WUF9), will explore critical areas where national and local governments must work together more effectively to deliver cities for all.

Over a year ago, 167 countries signed an unprecedented agreement setting a path towards achieving cities that are better for people, the planet and the economy. The question now is how to reach the goals outlined in the New Urban Agenda. While national governments have made commitments to end poverty, reduce inequality and tackle climate change, many of the actions needed are the responsibility of local authorities. These include spatial planning, provision of core infrastructure (housing, water supply, sanitation, roads), and basic services (health care, waste collection, emergency services and policing). Cities are, in a word, essential to sustainable development.

But there is strong evidence that local governments cannot succeed without concerted, coordinated and enabling national action. Central governments determine the extent to which power and resources are devolved, and national policies and regulations play a major role in shaping urban form and function. Only a third of countries have national policies to shape urban growth, and some national policies in sectors like housing and energy sometimes work at cross purposes to local efforts to build more sustainable, thriving cities.

This event will explore critical areas where national and local governments must work together more effectively to deliver cities for all. We will feature expert presentations and diverse panels including national and city decision makers, with representatives from the private sector and civil society. With high level opening and concluding panels, the event will cover key topics in the New Urban Agenda that are important to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. Sessions will focus on urban land use and housing, infrastructure, and finance—supported by research from the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities and the Coalition for Urban Transitions.

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1:00-1:15 PM


Ani Dasgupta, Global Director, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

1:15-2:15 PM

DECISION-MAKERS’ FORUM: National Policies That Empower Cities

Who has the power to act? Conversations about global challenges emphasize the importance of cities, but local governments often do not have the assets, functions and authorities to act alone. This moderated debate will bring together leaders from national and city governments to explore how they can use their respective powers to implement the New Urban Agenda, SDGs and Paris Agreement.

Moderator: Kevin Austin, Deputy Executive Director, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group

Hardeep Singh Puri, Union Minister, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India

Mohammed Adjei Sowah, Mayor of Accra, Ghana

Nkosenhle Madlala, Councilor and Co-Chair of Climate Change Committee, Durban, South Africa

Norliza Hashim, Executive Director, Urbanice Malaysia

Jonathan Woetzel, Director, McKinsey Global Institute; Global Leader, Cities Special Initiative, McKinsey & Company

2:15-3:15 PM

SESSION 1: How to Shape Urban Land Use and Provide Housing for All

Compact urban growth and affordable, well-located housing can lead to economic benefits for urban residents and reduce the costs of infrastructure for city authorities. However, increasing urban density also creates risks, particularly around the costs of land and housing. This session will address the challenging question of how to deliver affordable housing and compact urban growth through joint national and local action.

Moderator: Anjali Mahendra, Acting Director of Research, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

Ranjeev Ranjan Mishra, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Development, Government of India

Jorge Wolpert, Director, Comisión Nacional de Vivienda, Government of Mexico

Philipp Rode, Executive Director of LSE Cities and Associate Professorial Research Fellow, London School of Economics and Political Science

Abel Schumann, Economist, Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Robin King, Director of Knowledge Capture and Collaboration, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

3:15-3:30 PM


3:30-4:30 PM

SESSION 2: How to Deliver Urban Infrastructure and Core Services for All

Cities are struggling to address deficits in service delivery and keep pace with rapid population growth amid constrained resources. Nearly a billion people live in informal settlements without access to decent housing, clean drinking water or safe sanitation; millions more lack access to reliable and low-carbon transport, electricity and waste management. This session will look at new technologies, policies and delivery models that are enabling governments to better meet the needs of urban residents.

Moderator: Sarah Colenbrander, Global Programme Lead, Coalition for Urban Transitions; Senior Researcher, International Institute for Environment and Development

Kyung-Hwan Kim, Former Vice Minister, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, Government of South Korea

Diego Fernandez, Secretary of Social and Urban Integration, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Sameh Naguib Wahba, Global Director for Urban and Territorial Development, Disaster Risk Management, World Bank

Diego Canales, Tools and Data Innovation Associate, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

Victoria Beard, Associate Professor, Cornell University; Fellow, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

4:30-5:30 PM

SESSION 3: How to Mobilize Urban Finance to Pay for it All The gap in infrastructure investment in the global south is estimated to be between $1.2 trillion and $2.3 trillion a year. Mobilizing resources at this scale requires much more effective collaboration between national and local governments. This session will explore how both sides can build financial capabilities to fund implementation of the New Urban Agenda, SDGs and Paris Agreement.

Moderator: Nick Godfrey, Director, Coalition for Urban Transitions

Dan Dowling, Director, Cities and Urbanisation in Advisory, PWC

Andrea Fernandez, Director of Governance and Global Partnerships, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group

Rubbina Karruna, Cities Advisor, Department for International Development, UK Government

Jessica Seddon, Director of Integrated Urban Strategy, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

5:30-5:45 PM


5:45-6:30 PM

CONCLUDING SESSION: A Path Towards Implementing the New Urban Agenda

Strong partnerships between national and local governments are an essential precondition to achieving the global goals. This session will highlight key insights and recommendations to carry forward into the next two days of the World Urban Forum.

Moderator: Ani Dasgupta, Global Director, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

Rafael Tuts, Director of Programme Division, UN-Habitat

Mauricio Rodas, Mayor of Quito, Ecuador

Alessandra D’ Avila Vieira, Department of Slum Upgrading, Ministry of Cities, Government of Brazil

Rose Molokoane, Deputy President, Shack/Slum Dwellers International; Co-Chair, World Urban Campaign

Jesper Nygård, CEO, Realdania

5:45-6:30 PM

WRI Ross Prize for Cities Announcement with Short Film

Jessica Seddon, Director of Integrated Urban Strategy, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

6:45-8:45 PM

Networking Reception

Please join us for a networking reception in the Sky Lounge.