2020 - Moving the UN-Habitat Agenda to Abu Dhabi (UAE)

Abu Dhabi will host the Tenth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10) four years after the New Urban Agenda was approved at Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, held in 2016 in Quito, Ecuador.

For the first time, culture, creativity, and innovation will be at the center of the global conversation about the livability, vitality and sustainability of cities. Creativity and cultural diversity have always been key drivers of urban success. Our cities require public spaces for innovation and collaboration where people can tinker and experiment.

We already know that the skills in demand in the next 10-15 years require fluency of ideas, creativity, ability to think systemically, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. How will we plan our cities around that reality? While technology shapes the invisible infrastructure of smart cities, culture and creativity are necessary to protect the quirkiness that gives cities their own character that connects and inspires humans.

For many more reasons, at WUF10 culture will be a key driver for urban sustainability and a strategic asset for creating cities that are more inclusive, innovative and sustainable.

The World Urban Forum operates as a forward-thinking, open-ended think tank, providing a platform for multistakeholder dialogue, collaboration, and Public-Private cooperation. It is a platform designed to raise awareness of sustainable urbanization, to improve collective knowledge and increase cooperation between stakeholders.

As the host city, we aim to make WUF10 the best attended and most diverse since the World Urban Forum was established in 2001.


Hosting the WUF10 is a significant opportunity for Abu Dhabi to showcase its achievements as a global hub for innovation and cultural exchange, connecting East and West.

As the home of over 190 nationalities, Abu Dhabi offers a special combination of features in its urban identity as an open, progressive Arab city. The city pursues ‘Sustainable Abu Dhabi’, a holistic approach to sustainable development that rests on four pillars – economic, environmental, social and cultural. Abu Dhabi Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities (DPM) will develop strategic partnerships with civil society, government and the private sector to deliver four long-term initiatives (one per pillar) that will deliver content for four sessions at WUF10.

Finally, WUF10 will have special significance for residents of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) because it will take place one year before the nation’s golden jubilee, and on the same year that Dubai will host Expo2020.

As the first Arab city to host a WUF, efforts are being made to raise the profile of urban stakeholders from the region. To ensure that the region’s concerns will be considered at WUF10, DPM and the UN-Habitat Regional Office for Arab States have organized the first Pan-Arab Urban Development Symposium in March 2019. The voice of Arab urbanism is inspiring the world with examples of inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable human settlements for all.

One of the priorities at WUF10 will be to create an open environment where people can share with the world the best of multi-stakeholder, cross-agency, and international initiatives. Abu Dhabi and UN-Habitat will demonstrate to the world that cities are the solution to some of the toughest common challenges and that implementation efforts are in realizing the Sustainable Development Goals. Public-private cooperation is key to addressing issues and opportunities presented by urbanization.