The World Urban Forum (WUF) is the world’s premier conference on urban issues. It was established in 2001 by the United Nations to examine one of the most pressing issues facing the world today: rapid urbanisation and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies.

Organised and convened by UN-Habitat, the Forum has become one of the most open gatherings on the international arena, for exchanging views and experiences on urban challenges. The inclusive nature of the Forum, combined with high-level participation, makes it a unique United Nations conference and the premier international gathering on urban issues.


The World Urban Forum has the following objectives:

  • raise awareness of sustainable urbanisation among stakeholders and constituencies, including the general public;
  • improve the collective knowledge of sustainable urban development through inclusive open debates, sharing of lessons learned and the exchange of best practices and good policies; and
  • increase coordination and cooperation between different stakeholders and constituencies for the advancement and implementation of sustainable urbanisation.

World Urban Forum 10

The Tenth session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10) will take place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in 2020. The official announcement was made in March 2017 after the conclusion of the bidding process, which took place in 2016. WUF10 will be the first Forum to be held in the Arab region and it will be another opportunity to review the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

Click to visit the WUF10 webpage.

Click to read the WUF10 Concept paper.

World Urban Forum 11 Bidding Process

The selection process for the Eleventh session of the World Urban Forum to be held in 2022  started with a call for expression of interest for cities that would like to host the event. The deadline for receiving the expressions of interest was July 2018. The WUF11 selected host city/country will be announced in due course.

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Past World Urban Forum Sessions

Overall attendance in the Forum rose from 1,200 at the inaugural session in Nairobi in 2002, to over 4,300 in Barcelona in 2004 and over 10,400 in Vancouver in 2006. In Nanjing in 2008, there were 8,000 participants, their numbers reached almost 13,800 at the fifth session in Rio de Janeiro in 2010 and over 8,200 attended the sixth session in Naples in September 2012. One hundred countries were represented at the third session, 146 at the fourth, 150 at the fifth session and the sixth session in Naples saw a record number of 152 countries represented. 

Click here to visit the WUF2 website.

The third session of the Forum, held in Vancouver in 2006 (the thirtieth birthday of UN-Habitat), focused on sustainable urbanization and inclusive cities. One of the messages from the Forum was that the urban population of developing countries is set to double from 2 to 4 billion in the next 30 years. This will require the equivalent of planning, financing and servicing facilities for a new city of 1 million people to be built every week for the next 30 years. Click here to visit the WUF3 website.

The theme of the fourth session of the Forum, held in Nanjing in 2008, was harmonious urbanization. At this session, it was made clear that a society cannot be harmonious if large sections of its population are deprived of basic needs while other sections live in opulence. An important message from this session of the Forum was that harmony in cities cannot be achieved if the price of urban living is paid by the environment. The concept of harmony entails the synchronization and integration of all the Earth’s assets: physical, environmental, cultural, historical, social or human. Click here to visit the WUF4 website.

The fifth session of the Forum was held in Rio de Janeiro, and it built upon the technical and substantive lessons of the previous four sessions. It focused on the theme of “Right to the city: bridging the urban divide”. The Forum shared perspectives and viewpoints on the relevance of this concept, identifying what is needed to bridge the urban divide and to facilitate a prompt and sustainable transition from a city that is partially inclusive to one that is fully inclusive. Click here to visit the WUF5 website.

The sixth session, held in Naples, had as its main theme ‘The Urban Future’ a broad theme that encouraged reflections on the current and future challenges of our cities. Click here to visit the WUF6 website.

The seventh session was held in Medellín, Colombia, with the focus on “Urban Equity in Development – Cities for Life”.

The Ninth session of the World Urban Forum (WUF9), took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in February 2018, with an attendance of more than 23,000 participants. The full WUF9 report will be issued at the Twenty-seventh session of the Governing Council in April 2019. Click here to visit the WUF9 website.

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