The 4th Urban Economy Forum (UEF4) brought its international network of urban leaders back to Toronto this week for the first time since the start of the global pandemic. The hybrid event gathered mayors, ministers, financial leaders, urban developers and civil society to discuss this year’s theme, Sustainable Urban Finance.
Over 260 speakers from 51 countries and over 170 cities joined 34 sessions to share ideas and exchange inspiring practices on how cities can better realize the sustainable growth of urbanisation. Major themes that emerged from the 2-day conference included urban climate financing, emerging financial models and technologies, financing housing and urban development, and inclusive urban finance.
UEF4 participants shared a range of perspectives, models, and examples to push forward global thinking on how cities can overcome many of the challenges they face today. For example, climate change, loss of revenues from COVID-19 health measures, growing income inequalities, and transitioning toward more eco-friendly practices. While there is not a one-size-fits all approach, it was clear amongst participants that UEF4 provides a platform to bridge the gap between theory and implementation.
National and regional financial and funding institutions played a major role in this year’s forum. Signalling the growing role this sector plays in achieving urban sustainability and the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Cities, as transformational forces for global change, must work collaboratively with financial institutions for the world to achieve this global agenda by 2030.
Financial institutions are ready and willing to collaborate, but cities must show that they are investment ready. Building city capacities to show risk-management and implement resilience frameworks can show projects and programs are investment ready. Funds are also increasingly available for initiatives that have social impact, but they must provide private capital a return on investment and the social impacts must be measurable.
The UEF4 Resolution is one of the main outcomes of the annual forum which highlights recommendations that city leaders and urban actors should consider to strengthen their urban economies and financing capacities. The resolution also outlines the priorities of the UEF secretariat during the year leading up to the next forum. The UEF resolution will be available soon on their website.
The World Urban Pavilion in Regent Park – Powered by Daniels was the co-host of this year’s forum. It was recognized by UEF4 participants and included in the resolution as an incredible platform for cities to collaborate, learn, and accelerating urban innovation. The Pavilion, a global knowledge exchange hub for sustainable urbanisation and best practices, aims to identify and catalogue inspiring urban practices globally and support city-to-city learning and adopting these practices.
The Canadian Minister Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion joined UEF4 during the evening reception and announcement of one of the Pavilion’s programs, Canada Frontrunner of Urban SDGs. The program aims to build an urban profile for Canada on sustainable urbanisation and support the financing of innovative initiatives. The Minister called on Canadian urban society to join this program and submit their ‘made in Canada’ urban innovations to help build Canada’s urban profile and support other cities across the globe achieve the SDGs. Senior Vice-President of Strategy at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Lisa Williams, a representative of one of the Pavilion’s founding partners, shared a few examples that CMHC plans to submit as ‘made in Canada’ urban innovations.
“There are enough public resources to finance sustainable urban development. We are not using the existing public revenues effectively. Loss of public funds and corruption amount to $6 trillion.” – Rafael Tuts, Director, Global Solutions Division, UN-Habitat
“To solve existing challenges our cities face, we need new approaches and bold leadership at all levels and in all sectors” – Reza Pourvaziry, Chair, Urban Economy Forum
“All hands approach must be the answer, the engagement of the public, private and civil society is a must including that of climate financing institutions” – Oscar Requena, Ministry of Labor, Local Government and Rural Development, Belize
“Social and economic challenges are connected to each other. If we are to thrive as a society, we cannot pretend that they are mutually exclusive, they go hand in hand. We’ve an opportunity to build sustainably and collaboratively.” – Guy Cormier, President & CEO of Desjardins Group
“Most problems have three parts, physical, financial, and social. A lot of problems focus on the financial, but we have to take into account the social and physical” – Delroy Williams, Mayor, Kingston, Jamaica
“The urban crises have led to more collectiveness then anyone thought possible, to the coming together of the G7 to COP26… the commitment to financing green is here and is here to stay” – Vincent Gasparro, Vancity Community Investment Bank
“Between 2017 and 2021, we have invested $1.5 billion directly into communities with the explicit purpose of reducing disparities that exists in the built environment between those that have and those that have not” – Eric Glass, Impact Investor and Advisor, Justice Capital
“The way to finance sustainable urban development is from a metropolitan perspective. In the long term, metropolitan can answer the challenges relating to mass immigration, food shortages caused by climate change, and provide resilience and awareness” – Jakub Mazur, Mayor of Warclaw, Poland & President, Network of European Metropolitan Regions and Areas
“The work we do touches on everything. We piloted the largest basic income program in the country. SDG11 and SDG10 we have participatory budgeting. We need to make sure to communicate the SDGs in a human way” – Mayor Eric Garcetti Los Angeles, CA
About the Partners
The Urban Economy Forum (www.ueforum.org) is an international organization that engages with city leaders to build capacities and global networks to realize the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), focusing on sustainable urban economy and finance. The UEF’s annual conference is an international gathering between communities and ministers, mayors, urban developers, academics, and financiers to raise awareness and exchange ideas and best practices on key topics to sustainable development.
The World Urban Pavilion in Regent Park – Powered By Daniels (www.worldurbanpavilion.org) – Powered by Daniels is a stragetic collaboration between Urban Economy Forum, UN-Habitat, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and The Daniels Corporation. It has been designed as a knowledge exchange hub where stakeholders from around the world can come together to share learnings and best practices on sustainable urban development. The Pavilion is located in Daniels’ DuEast mixed-use development on Dundas Street East, Toronto Canada, within a fully-accessible building in an open, gallery inspired space. Its unique design and multifunctional space provide opportunities for collaboration and ideas to blossom.