A world urban forum and why it matters | Corina Cretu

Europe is indeed a beacon, an example to follow for tens of millions of people around the world

After Quito in 2016, Kuala Lumpur in 2018. The world urban forum will take place from 7 to 13 February in the capital of Malaysia, a city renowned for its futuristic architecture, including the famous Petronas Towers.

A perfect venue in a way considering that the forum is about today’s and tomorrow’s urban issues, about sustainable urban development.

Why would it matter to half-a-billion Europeans? Well, mostly because urban issues around the world epitomise the butterfly effect: what is being done (or not!) in terms of energy, climate, environment, social policy, thousands of kilometres away from our continent can have a powerful impact in Europe’s cities and regions.

Think of it: Europe is a world leader in urban development, both in terms of concrete results in our cities (energy savings, clean transport, inclusive policy…) as in terms of methodology (the EU Urban Agenda makes national governments, local authorities and civil society work together, as equals, in improving the quality of life in Europe’s cities).

In Kuala Lumpur, it will be my job to promote our model to others, to encourage exchanges of good practice between Europe and other continents, simply because there’s no use protecting our planet’s climate in Europe if it is damaged elsewhere. This is the reason why the European Union wants to keep playing a leading role in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), something we have already started doing at home, and that we must encourage the rest of the world to do too.

The New Urban Agenda will be a crucial step forward as it will empower cities worldwide to take concrete actions, tailored to each city’s situation and needs, to tackle urban challenges. Furthermore, we must all be proud that the new global agenda will have a distinct “European flavour”. Indeed, it reflects Europe’s own vision for an urban policy that is sustainable, that leaves nobody behind and that makes all relevant parties work together in their cities.

Let us not forget, in this period when some have doubts about the European project and its future, that Europe is indeed a beacon, an example to follow, for tens of millions of people around the world, and this in many fields.

Urban policy is one of those. One key moment of the Kuala Lumpur forum will be the presentation of the European Union’s new commitments to improve quality of life in cities. The EU will thus formally pledge to deliver the new global Urban Agenda through the existing Urban Agenda for the EU; it will, with a range of partners, develop a harmonised definition of cities and foster cooperation between cities from around the world to strengthen sustainable urban development.

In Kuala Lumpur I will be proud to represent 500 million Europeans, some 100,000 European cities and towns, with their achievements and their projects for the future, in order to make our cities better places to live in, for all.

Corina Cretu is Corina Crețu is the European Commissioner for Regional Policy

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