World Urban Forum 7 — eDebates is hosting three e-Debates on urban equity in development as part of World Urban Forum 7 (WUF 7), the international conference on cities and development presented by UN-HABITAT.

During the weeks leading up to this year's conference — taking place in Medellín, Colombia on April 5-11, 2014 — invites you to join each of the following three conversations, whose topics are closely aligned with the overall theme of WUF 7, "Urban Equity in Development – Cities for Life."

March 3–13Urban planning and design: Laws, regulations, and the informal city
March 14–24Retooling 'Cities for Life': New approaches to urban infrastructure and service provision
March 25–April 4Adversity and urban planning: Designing safer, more resilient cities

The discussion topics are described in detail below. During the conference itself, will also provide on-the-spot coverage of conference proceedings and related events direct from Medellín.




March 3–13
Urban planning and design: Laws, regulations, and the informal city

Urban planning and design tend to treat the city as a formal and legible space — one where questions of land use and infrastructure, investment and development, title and tenancy are decided de jure through laws and regulations while finding de facto expression in development projects, slum upgrading, and urban 'revitalization'. Too often, however, this formal perspective fails to consider informal communities on their own terms and disregards the self-built housing and other structures created by their residents. How can existing institutional, legislative and financial mechanisms be applied or adapted to bring informal communities into the framework of urban planning and design — and do so in a way that recognizes the legitimacy of those communities and builds on their dynamism, culture, and history? This discussion will consider how cities can use spatial planning as a means to social integration, and how legal and policy frameworks can make justice and inclusion integral to urban planning and the housing development process. Join the discussion.


    Jorge Bela — Bogotá and Cali Community Manager,
    Widya Anggraini — Jakarta Community Manager,
    Carlin Carr — Mumbai and Bangalore Community Manager,
    María Fernanda Carvallo — Mexico City Community Manager,
    Eliana Barbosa — São Paulo Community Manager,
    Jaap de Visser — Director of the Community Law Centre, Cape Town, South Africa




March 14–24
Retooling 'Cities for Life': New approaches to urban infrastructure and service provision

The development of "Cities for Life" requires infrastructure to bring life's fundamentals to the community: water, sanitation, housing, transportation, energy. Historically, stark inequities in access to these basics have divided cities, leaving informal communities marginalized and their residents struggling to survive. What would an equity-driven approach to urban infrastructure development look like? Who should participate and what part should they play in order to bring about a sustainable approach that will deliver the desired results in terms of inclusiveness as well as delivery of services? How can players of various types — from government agencies to profit-driven vendors, from grassroots community organizations to academics and urban planners — complement one another and coordinate their contributions to produce a coherent, effective whole? How might new technologies and service models transform the array of possible infrastructure solutions? This discussion will examine all these elements and explore ways of integrating them into an urban infrastructure matrix that delivers the goods while serving the goals of justice, inclusion, and urban sustainability. Join the discussion.


    Clarisse Linke — Country Director, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy
    Nithya Raman — Director, Transparent Chennai
    John Taylor — Founder and Director, Yayasan Kota Kita
    Charlton Ziervogel — CORC/SDI Secretariat
    Wura Ladipo-Ajayi — Lagos Community Manager,
    Tariq Toffa — Cape Town and Johannesburg Community Manager,




March 25 – April 4
Adversity and urban planning: Designing safer, more resilient cities

Beyond such relatively static elements as street grids, height limits, and land use designations, effective urban planners must find ways to weigh competing interests, include diverse participants, and prepare for an array of dangers and disasters, both natural and human-made. From urban crime to disaster preparedness, cities around the world face the challenge of anticipating stakeholder conflicts, managing risks, and dealing equitably with social clashes and catastrophes. What strategies and approaches are proving helpful to city planners as they navigate these rough waters? What new modes of participation are available to ensure that the needs of all urban communities are understood and met, and that resources are fairly allocated and sustainably employed? This conversation will explore the specific risks and conflicts urban planners confront, how they are meeting those demands in ways that are both effective and inclusive, and what else they need to close gaps and scale solutions to benefit the full range of city residents.


    Jorge Bela — Bogotá and Cali Community Manager,
    Kathryn Ewing — Urban Designer and Architect, SUN Development
    Priyanka Jain — Delhi Community Manager,
    Saima Sultana Jaba — Dhaka Community Manager,


These conversations are hosted in partnership with UN-HABITAT and the Ford Foundation in conjunction with WUF 7.