Azerbaijan to host prestigious World Urban Forum in 2026

    POLITICS  01 December 2023 - 09:12

    The victory in the 44-day Patriotic War of 2020 brought not only joy and pride to our people for the liberation of Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur, but also shock at the extent of the catastrophic destruction of our towns and villages caused by Armenia. International experts who visited liberated Karabakh were appalled by what they saw, called what happened with a capacious term - "urbanicide", which reflected the manic systematicness with which Armenia tried to erase all traces of Azerbaijani presence in Karabakh, including the destruction of entire towns.

    According to Caliber.Az, Azerbaijan's post-war development strategy is now focused on the "Great Return" programme, which cannot be implemented without careful planning to restore the territories that were liberated from occupation, starting from scratch, or even from a negative starting point. President Ilham Aliyev has taken steps to strengthen cooperation with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) to tackle the massive task of rebuilding thousands of square kilometers, which Azerbaijan faces alone. Baku and UN-HABITAT have a lot to discuss, given that no other country has undertaken such large-scale reconstruction efforts as Azerbaijan.

    In June 2022, Maimuna Mohd Sharif, the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, became the first head of a UN agency to visit the de-occupied territories. During her visit, she was able to witness the scale of the task of reconstructing Azerbaijani towns and villages that were destroyed by Armenians. This is a resource-intensive and extremely complex task.

    As a result of the increased collaboration between Azerbaijan and UN-HABITAT, our country has decided to nominate Baku to host the World Urban Forum (WUF13) in 2026. According to a UN resolution adopted in 2001, the Forum is held every two years in one of the world's cities with the most authoritative and large-scale participation in the field of urban planning. The WUF is the largest platform for the study of urbanisation and urban development.

    It is no surprise that over ten cities from leading countries around the world competed for the honour of hosting the 13th World Urban Development Forum (WUF13). The President set the goal of winning the competition to host the event, which was not an easy task. However, the Azerbaijani state proved that it could achieve even the most ambitious goals. On November 30, at the 3rd session of the UN-HABITAT Executive Council in Kenya, it was announced that Baku would host WUF13 in 2026. Our sources in diplomatic circles reported that a powerful counter-campaign was launched against Azerbaijan's candidature by several Western countries, led by France. Traditional French nastiness accompanied us like a pesky mosquito on all international platforms. Nevertheless, despite the persistent attempts of the French, Baku's elaborately prepared bid for WUF13 and our country's work with partners brought their efforts to naught.

    The World Urban Forum in Baku is expected to become one of the largest events in the South Caucasus. The event will bring together stakeholders from Azerbaijan and foreign countries, including government officials, NGOs, specialists, experts, and representatives of the private sector. It will provide an opportunity for exchanging ideas and sharing new knowledge and experience. We are confident that by 2026, Azerbaijan will be able to showcase its achievements to foreign guests. It is planned to return about 140 thousand citizens to Karabakh and East Zangezur by that time.

    It is worth noting that the World Urban Forum (WUF11) was held last year in Katowice, Poland, with the theme "Changing our cities for a better future." The event saw the participation of 17,000 people. In previous years, the Forum was organized in cities such as Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, Vancouver, Abu Dhabi, Kuala Lumpur, and others, and it attracted up to 23,000 participants per event.

    The next Forum (WUF12) will take place in Cairo, Egypt, from November 4 to 8, 2024.

    The World Urban Forum aims to:

    - Raise awareness among stakeholders and groups, including the general public, about sustainable urbanization.

    - Improve collective knowledge on sustainable urban development through open and inclusive discussions, sharing lessons learned, best practices, and strategies.

    - Strengthen coordination and cooperation among different stakeholders and constituencies to promote and implement sustainable urbanization.

    - Provide a platform for multilateral organizations and stakeholders to report on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

    Hosting this important event in Baku in 2026 is another shining example of the highest level of international reputation achieved through the profound reforms in the field of urban planning, the successful implementation of large-scale projects in the country, and Azerbaijan's contribution to the global agenda in this field!




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