Peer exchange of city leaders at World Urban Forum – Tailoring global tools to foster local identities


In the past edition of the World Urban Forum 6 (WUF6), UCLG gathered city leaders, development partners and networks to debate on management practices and peer learning around different challenges:  Can strategic planning acknowledge local identities and cultural assets? How can these be strengthened and become a reference for city dynamics?  What does this imply for the city leadership?  How do cities learn, what are the most important lessons to be extracted from daily city management?
The panellists included Violêta Kubrusly (City of Sao Paulo, Brazil); Subhatri Moonsammy (City of Durban, South Africa); Dionisio Chereua (Mozambique); Stewart Sarkozy-Banoczy (United States of America) ; Mr. Baradaran (Mashad, Iran) ; Tim Campbell (Urban Age Institute) ; Josep Roig (Secretary General, UCLG) ; Sara  Hoeflich (UCLG Committee of Urban Strategic Planning) ; Jordi Pascual (UCLG Committee of Culture).
The key outcomes of the networking event are as follow:
1. Cities are the engines of transformation. Municipalities / local governments are key to transform cities towards more liveable, more sustainable, more democratic spaces.
2. Any learning strategy of cities (municipalities / local governments) which involves international exchanges must be practical and find specific, concrete benefits (especially if it involves peer-reviews, travelling, research…).
3. Citizens must be at the centre of any learning strategy of cities. Change must be felt by citizens and actors of civil society.
4. Identity of each city is unique. There are no two equal cities. Similarities exist. Projects / programmes / policies can be copied / adapted. But all solutions must be tailor-made by local spheres. “Each city has its own specifications”. “Context means language, culture, identity, size, spatial pattern, legal and institutional systems”
5. Integrated approach in urban planning is key. Any urban transformation requires a mix of professionals, from the social, economic, cultural, urban planning, etc.
6. Leadership is crucial. In the city there are many leaders; the leadership of municipal power is essential, but not enough; community leaders should also have a strong role in international learning strategies. Municipal leadership must create opportunities to learn for many people; also community leaders.
7. Communication is also important. International exchanges must be explained without fear, internally, but also externally (it must be useful for other people / cities not directly involved in the exchange).
8. The XXth century (post-colonial paradigm of international cooperation) is also operational, but is becoming obsolete. There is not one region of the world that has legitimacy to “teach”. Today, cities in the so-called South learn from cities in the South; and cities in the North learn from the South