The World Urban Forum took place this year from 7-13 February in Kuala Lumpur. Convening actors from all sectors and from all over the globe, the EFC’s FFSC was in attendance and involved in a number of sessions and meetings.

Organised by UN Habitat, the World Urban Forum gathers a wide range of experts from all walks of life. It is recognised as the foremost global arena for interaction among policymakers, local government leaders, non-governmental organisations and expert practitioners in the field of sustainable urban development and human settlements.

WUF9 was the first since the adoption of the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and therefore the focus was entirely on how to implement and monitor the NUA. EFC’s Funders’ Forum for Sustainable Cities was present during the conference to participate in a number of sessions as well as important meetings of the General Assembly of Partners where EFC co-chairs with Fundación Avina the Partner Constituent Group for Foundations and Philanthropies.

The Stakeholder Roundtable for Foundations and Philanthropies was a highlight of the conference. The session allowed those from the sector to discuss lessons learned from the last two years since NUA was adopted as well as the important role philanthropy has to play in moving forward. Jacquleine Burton of the Ford Foundation highlighted how philanthropy can empower grassroots organisations and stated that “Grantees’ success is not Ford’s success. Grantees know what they need to do on the ground. Ford grantees are in the driving seat”, while Victor Pineda of World Enabled focused on philanthropy’s capacity to be changemakers noting that “All foundations here are catalytic changemakers. They see opportunities that require a little push led by people with vision. Having the courage to make hard decisions to face systems that perpetuate inequality.” Jesper Nygard of Realdania introduced a new line of thinking and reminded everyone of the importance of being decent believing that “when you are very strong you have to be very nice. You have to do it in a manner that you are considered a decent institution”.

 The EFC session on the final day of the conference concentrated on philanthropy’s ability to convene different actors and the ability to take risks and innovate, but always with a purpose. In terms of convening, Fernando Rueda of Fundación Avina advised all to leave their ego at the door seeing that “Collaboration is not an alignment of egos. Partnerships are creating a new idea together. It’s about ecosystem not egosystems!”

 Morten Nielsen of the International Federation of Housing and Planning applauded philanthropy’s capacity to take the right risks because “Philanthropy is reducing risk – it is considering the right risks. Others consider financial risk but we need to consider the social and environmental risks. If we don’t succeed in achieving SDGs and NUA we are in big trouble. Philanthropy has the intelligence and capability to take the right risks.”

EFC and Fundación Avina also participated in a number of GAP meetings, where a new PCG was accepted on “Sexual orientation and gender identity’. There were also plenty of discussion on how the GAP and all 17 PCGs can work together to ensure the successful implementation of the NUA.

If you would like to learn more, please contact Jennifer Fitzsimons on jfitzsimons@efc.be