“We want the voice of Poland as the host country of the World Urban Forum (WUF) to include the experience of Polish cities and towns,” said vice-minister Małgorzata Jarosińska-Jedynak during a Local Development Forum seminar.

The first in a series of Local Development Forum (LDF) seminars was organised on 11 February 2022 in Katowice. This is a new Association of Polish Cities initiative organised under the LDF formula with a focus on urban development, introduced nearly two years ago, well-known to Polish towns and cities today.

The new series of seminars will explore the theme of preparing Polish cities for attending the eleventh World Urban Forum. All meetings have been designed to provide representatives of cities and towns with knowledge regarding fundamental issues associated with this year’s focal World Urban Forum themes, including fair cities; green urban future; developing urban resilience; urban planning and administration; and the future of urban economy and finance.

Organised biannually, the World Urban Forum is the premier global event with a focus on urban development. The first edition was held in Nairobi in 2002. To date, the Forum was held i.a. in Vancouver, Kuala Lumpur and Abu Dhabi, attracting attendants from all over the world, their numbers ranging from several to as many as twenty thousand. UN-Habitat (United Nations Human Settlements Programme) is the WUF’s concept author and lead organiser.

Poland and the Polish city of Katowice will be the hosts and co-organisers of the eleventh WUF session. For the first time in WUF history, the event will be organised in Central and Eastern Europe.

WUF11 will open on 26 June and close on 30 June 2022, the entire event held at the International Congress Centre in Katowice. “Changing Our Cities for a Better Future” has been chosen as the Polish WUF edition’s leitmotiv.

WUF and the National Urban Policy

“Efforts to organise the World Urban Forum in Katowice have become part of the debate concerning urbanisation and urban development directions, a Polish and global tradition of many years,” said vice-minister Małgorzata Jarosińska-Jedynak during the LDF seminar.

In her intervention, the governmental plenipotentiary for organising the World Urban Forum in Katowice spoke of development directions for national urban policy until the year 2030. She listed a number of essential issues, such as sub-urbanisation and spatial planning; collaboration in urban functional areas and enhancing the development potential of cities, towns and Urban Functional Areas; natural environment quality in towns and cities and adaptation activities in the face of climate change; urban mobility and traffic safety systems; and public activity promotion.

Małgorzata Jarosińska-Jedynak added, “We intend for the National Urban Policy to be approved by the Council of Ministers in June this year, and presented in the course of the World Urban Forum in Katowice as our contribution to the urban policy-related programme debate.”

The vice-minister of development funds and regional policy discussed works associated with the World Urban Forum agenda.

Association of Polish Cities’ offer for cities and towns

World Urban Forum organisers and the Association of Polish Cities wish for the community of international speakers in Katowice to include Polish municipal mayors and presidents.

In the course of the meeting, Executive Director of the Office of the Association of Polish Cities Andrzej Porawski said, “The Association of Polish Cities plan targets greater interest in the WUF11, anticipating the Forum by organising discussions with a focus on urban problems, and using the event for purposes of making the cities’ and towns’ voice stronger across Poland and intensifying our pro-urban lobbying efforts municipalities themselves have joined; we have also been working to that end at the Association of Polish Cities, Union of Polish Metropolises, Union of Polish Towns and Association of Polish Counties.”

The Association has proposed that cities and towns join a series of seminars kicked off on 11 February. Successive meetings will be substantive in nature, with a focus on WUF11 themes. “We intend to discuss all these matters in our native cities and towns, with our municipalities in attendance. We further intend to use these upcoming springtime seminars as vehicles to prepare our own presenters who might be offered the opportunity to speak during main World Urban Forum events,” said Andrzej Porawski.

The first seminar will be held on 24 March in Wałbrzych, with a focus on urban resources. We will be focusing on tangible urban resources and the local municipal potential.

A meeting with an urban community focus will be held in Gdynia on 21 April.

On 19 May, one week before the Local Government Day, we will invite attendees to join us in Sopot, where the Local Government Financial Congress will also be organised in April. The pre-WUF seminar will continue the urban finance and economy-related discussion.

Last but not least, we will meet in Dzierżoniów on 10 June. The meeting’s leitmotiv – “Global Goals for Cities” – will be explored in collaboration with the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR).

Notably, the Association of Polish Cities succeeded in securing a World Urban Forum Accompanying Event status for the LDF seminar series.

The world within arm’s reach

The Association of Polish Cities, Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy and City of Katowice are encouraging cities and towns to actively join preparations for the World Urban Forum, attend the event itself, and use it as an opportunity for establishing contacts with representatives of the cities of the world.

“We will have the world within arm’s reach,” said the manager of the Urban Policy Observatory at the Municipal and Regional Development Institute Karol Janas during the opening seminar. “While multiple fascinating conferences with an urban theme are organised around the world, attendance always involves considerable cost and logistic difficulties. This time, we are offered an amazing opportunity: experts from the world over, representatives of most active cities and towns will arrive in Katowice. This is a unique opportunity for every Polish city and town and every individual interested in establishing such contacts and engaging in collaboration.”

Do watch the video recording of the entire seminar. You are also welcome to read presentations shown in the course of the meeting (attached below).

We will report on WUF11 events open to Polish cities and towns in the upcoming issue of the “Samorząd Miejski” monthly, and post updates to the www.miasta.pl website.

We would like to remind you that the Local Development Forum seminar series is delivered as part of the “Local Development” programme implemented by the Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy as part of the 3rd edition of Norway and European Economic Area Grants. The LDF is an open platform created by the Association of Polish Cities to accommodate a local and central government and expert debate, coupled with an integrated package of activities to promote sustainable and endogenic local development approaches and tools.