Universities Roundtable

Hall 4, Room A

The World Urban Forum (WUF) offers an opportunity for institutions of higher learning to showcase examples of transformative educational and capacity building initiatives and technical assistance programmes implemented in partnership with city governments, NGOs and the private sector. Engaging institutions of higher learning provide a strong basis for transformative action towards sustainable urban development.

As a fertile ground for the cultivation talent in an emerging generation of urban practitioners, universities can play a critical role in promoting the linkages between culture and innovation in cities. They equip graduates with critical and replicable skills to support sustainable urbanization.

Universities are also home to intellectual innovation and knowledge generation and are at the forefront of harnessing new technologies, approaches, and methodologies that support sustainable urban development.

Universities themselves have distinct cultural identities and infrastructure which have implications for the relationship between community identity in urban areas and universities.

Some measures taken by universities to foster culture and innovation include the establishment of science and technology hubs and research parks, support for accelerators and incubators, the inclusion of mandatory courses on intercultural learning in their curricula, and the development of inter-disciplinary approaches to inclusive and sustainable cities.

Universities often have diverse and international student bodies, providing space for the exchange of new ideas and cross pollination of customs and traditions. This can be accentuated by intercultural festivals or exchange programmes.


This roundtable will highlight ongoing partnerships and initiatives which strengthen synergies between higher education (SDG4) and urban governance (SDG11). The overall objective is to multiply their positive impact at the city level by:

Highlighting successful educational initiatives and projects developed by universities to promote innovation and culture in cities.

Facilitate stock-taking by participants of practices from universities in partnership with global networks and local governments to implement the New Urban Agenda and Agenda 2030 in cities with specific attention to cultural heritage.

Provide participants with a platform to share information about mechanisms through which higher education supports sustainable development in cities in line with the objectives of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and the New Urban Agenda.

The roundtable is open to scholars, policy and decision-makers and practitioners. Those with experience in urban revitalization and implementation of cultural heritage projects will find it valuable.

Guiding Questions
  1. What have universities achieved towards driving innovation in cities to support cultural development since the adoption of the New Urban Agenda?
  2. How can collaboration and networking by universities harness the development and deployment of frontier technologies in cities?
  3. Are universities building the knowledge and skills required to respond to the needs of rapidly growing cities and changing labor markets?
  4. How can universities and their partners contribute to innovation and culture in ways that support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 11 and implementation of the New Urban Agenda?
  5. How can better synergies be created for cities, universities and communities to benefit from each other’s experiences, expertise and knowledge?

Session Speakers