After Quito in 2016, Kuala Lumpur from 7 to 13 February 2018. The world urban forum took place in the capital of Malaysia, a city renowned for its futuristic architecture, including the famous Petronas Towers.
Why would it matter to the world? Well, consider that today some 55% of the world’s population lives in urban settlements and that by 2030, 60% of human beings will be living in urban areas. Tomorrow, some 2 humans in three will face daily urban issues that stretch from public services to housing, energy, social inclusion, jobs…
But then, you will ask, why would it matter to us Europeans? Well, mostly because urban issues around the world epitomise the butterfly effect: what is being done (or not!) in terms of energy, climate, environment, social policy, thousands of kilometres away from our continent can have a powerful impact in Europe's cities and regions.
And this is why Europe must speak loudly on the world scene. We are a world leader in urban development, both in terms of concrete results in our cities (energy savings, clean transport, inclusive policy…) and in terms of methodology (the Urban Agenda for the EU makes national governments, local authorities and civil society work together, as equals, to improve the quality of life in Europe's cities).
In Kuala Lumpur, I explained and promoted our urban model to others, to encourage exchanges of good practice between Europe and other continents, simply because there's no use protecting our planet's climate here in Europe if someone damages it elsewhere.
This is the reason why the European Union wants to keep playing a leading role in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030: we have already started doing this at home, and we must encourage the rest of the world to follow suit.
The New Urban Agenda is a crucial step forward as it empowers cities worldwide to take concrete actions, tailored to each city's situation and needs, to tackle urban challenges. Furthermore, we must all be proud that that the new global agenda will have a distinct "European flavour". Indeed, it reflects Europe's own vision for an urban policy that is sustainable, that leaves nobody behind and that makes all relevant parties work together in their cities.
In Kuala Lumpur, I presented Europe's achievements in the implementation of the three voluntary commitments we publicly took in Quito; those concern the implementation of the new global Urban Agenda through our Urban Agenda for the EU; the unique attempt to develop a harmonised definition of cities and fostering cooperation between cities from around the world to strengthen sustainable urban development.
Improving the quality of live in the world cities for generations to come sounds to me an objective worth fighting for. As EU Commissioner for regional and urban policies, it is one of my top priorities.