Poland the 11th World Urban Forum

Renata Calak

Director, Department of Strategy, Polish Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy

How is the Polish Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy involved in, and supporting WUF11?

The fact that the World Urban Forum will be held in Katowice is a great opportunity for Poland. Therefore, the Ministry is widely involved in various preparatory works. Together with UN-Habitat, we are preparing the official program of the WUF11. During the Forum we plan to focus on topics such as: a just and green future for cities; innovation and technology; building urban resilience as well as urban economy and finance.

In addition to cooperation with UN-Habitat, together with our strategic partner Institute of Urban and Regional Development, we are proposing a number of our own – host country initiatives. We would like to emphasize the European aspect of the WUF by organizing a dedicated thematic path called European track – which will create an additional space for debate concentrated on topics important for Poland and other European countries and cities.. We are also organizing a competition for young people called – Urban In. A city for everyone. Young enthusiasts and professionals can submit their ideas for urban and architectonical solutions for cities.

In the preparatory process we have involved a wide group of people – from local government officials, organizations working for the sustainable development of cities, to NGOs and youth representatives. Bearing in mind that cities are diverse, the discussion during Forum will also reflect on this involving different urban actors.

What does the organisation of WUF11 mean to Katowice, and Poland overall? What do you hope it brings as a result?

We see WUF as a unique event of a global impact that creates a great opportunity to spread innovative solutions for cities, which is a forum for exchanging experiences from all around the world. It will direct attention of public to challenges that our cities are facing nowadays and will need to take upon in the coming years such as climate change, affordable housing or great number of refugees, for example from Ukraine.  Moreover, it is the first time that WUF will take place in Central Eastern Europe and opportunity to present urban experience and history of this part of Europe. Poland has a unique history of urban transformation, which may also become an inspiration.

As the leading theme of this year’s edition is Transforming our cities for a better urban future, we hope to provide interesting discussions that may bring a greater insight on the future of our cities. 

Poland is currently working on its new National Urban Policy: how does that document develop the previous NUP and how does it link to WUF11’s theme of ‘Transforming our Cities for a Better Urban Future’?

The new National Urban Policy 2030 is largely devoted to the most important challenges that cities and their functional areas are facing nowadays. In the document, we present a number of instruments, legal, organizational and financial solutions. The main goal of NUP 2030 is to create conditions for cities and their functional urban areas for sustainable development, offering a high quality of life to their residents.


Since 2015, when the first Polish NUP was adopted several challenges that we faced before did not disappear but even intensified such as climate crisis, urban sprawl or house deficit. In addition urban areas must face pandemic and refugees crisis. Having this in mind and the dynamically changing world we put more emphasis on some of this challenges and also underline the need for cities to be flexible, resilient and transformative. We also noticed a greater need to strengthen the implementation and effectiveness of NUP. The coordination and cooperation of different actors at national level that have an impact on urban development is the key to successful implementation of NUP 2030 goals. In order to achieve this we introduce a dedicated Executive Council for implementation of NUP which consist of sectoral ministries and cooperates with cities associations.


Moreover, since the last NUP, several key documents have appeared that set the direction of changes and new trends in urban development. In 2016 UN Habitat formulated a New Urban Agenda that proposes course of actions and strengthens the mission of the UN 2030 Agenda when it comes to supporting sustainable urbanization. Then in 2020, the new Leipzig Charter was adopted by the EU ministers for urban development which underlines transformative power of cities to be just, productive and greener ones. NUP2030 strongly refers to the directions set in those documents and formulates recommendations on national and local levels according to new global and European trends.


Polish NUP 2030 is strongly linked to the WUF 11’s main theme. The essence of solutions proposed in the document is to face development challenges, such as suburbanisation, climate change, urban mobility or social issues, and to strengthen the capacity of cities and functional urban areas to sustainable transformation. Therefore NUP 2030 defines six goals that are part of the vision for long-term urban development: compact, green, productive, smart, accessible and efficient city. In order to achieve this goals as well as effectively address global challenges cities need to be ready to change and transform for better urban future.

Finally, what themes are you looking forward to exploring and what events are you looking forward to attending during the Forum?  

With no doubts WUF11 has a lot to offer and is a great opportunity to explore different aspects of urban development and today’s challenges from the perspective of policy makers, urban planners and citizens. We are looking forward to dialogs, sessions and roundtables that will provide new ideas and trends to challenges we are all facing that could be an interesting solutions worth implementing in our contexts.


Moreover, worth mentioning is also the entire package of events under the European track – a series of panels, where the best experiences and practices in the urban field e.g. Green transformation in cities: what should the energy mix look like?, Inclusive cities in times of crisis or Ensuring nobody is left behind in the shift toward sustainable urban mobility will be presented.

An important discussion point within Forum is also a Special Session on urban reconstruction after wars and natural disasters, focusing on the social dimension of urban reconstruction.  This is an up to date topic that is a part of dialogue on how to create crisis-resistant cities and communities – Rebuilding Communities and Neighbourhoods After War.

In the context of above mentioned challenges the role of national urban policies is of great importance to policymakers, thus we are also looking forward to the dedicated Roundtable on the National Urban Policies in Changing World during which will have a pleasure not only to present solutions proposed in Polish NUP 2030 but also discuss with other Member States their solutions and ideas to address urban challenges.


When it comes to the interesting themes worth exploring during WUF11, the event has such a wide range of choices that I am sure that everyone will find something interesting for themselves. We are looking forward to welcoming you in Katowice on 26-30 of June!