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Urban Week 2009

Sponsor: Sustainable Development Network

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Innovations in Urban Space

Urban Forum 2009
March 9-10, 2009

Urban Learning Days 2009
March 11-12, 2009

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The World Bank Group’s annual Urban Week 2009 was held from March 9-12, at  its Headquarters in Washington, DC. The overall theme for this year's event was “Innovations in Urban Space.” This annual gathering brings together World Bank staff from around the world and representatives of international development organizations, private sector and governments to engage in learning, experience sharing and networking . The program was organized in a series of interactive plenary and parallel sessions that allowed for cross-regional exchanges as well as discussion of emerging approaches.

During the Urban Forum, March 9th and 10th, special emphasis was given to the Bank's Urban Strategy which is currently being updated. New thinking about cities has led to significant shifts in the way we move forward in the coming decade. While urbanization was once criticized as being unmanageable and counter productive, it is now considered a key element in promoting economic growth, if well managed. In many countries, cities are leading the way in innovations and responses to global development challenges, including climate change, energy efficiency, and economic development. The World Bank is contributing to this global urban agenda that has become a key area of focus for policy makers across the developing world and is currently preparing an Urban Strategy that responds to the needs, demands and expectations of a new decade. Most of the sessions in the Urban Forum were structured around key topics of the Strategy.

This year, the Urban Forum also paid special attention to the ongoing global financial crisis. As the crisis unfolds it is becoming clearer that cities will play an important role in preserving jobs and creating new ones and providing social safety nets to those most impacted. As cities have been hard hit by the contraction in manufacturing and construction industries and other sectors, urban poverty is on the rise. City revenues are down and services are being impacted. The current economic and financial crisis poses a serious threat to the advances made by cities in service delivery and city governance.

Following the Urban Forum were a series of Learning Events (March 11-12) covering topics as diverse as Housing Subsidies, Cultural Heritage Preservation, Slums, Climate Change, Local Economic Develoment, Solid Waste, Disaster Risk Management and Harmonious Urbanization.

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