Addressing Urban Safety in African Cities during the World Urban Forum 2020

Abu Dhabi will host the Tenth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10) four years after the New Urban Agenda was approved at Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, held in 2016 in Quito, Ecuador. The World Urban Forum operates as a forward-thinking, open-ended think tank, providing a platform for multistakeholder dialogue, collaboration, and Public-Private cooperation. It is a platform designed to raise awareness of sustainable urbanization, to improve collective knowledge and increase cooperation between stakeholders.

WUF10 logo


Moving the UN-Habitat Agenda to Abu Dhabi
For the first time, culture, creativity, and innovation will be at the center of the global conversation about the livability, vitality and sustainability of cities. Creativity and cultural diversity have always been key drivers of urban success. Our cities require public spaces for innovation and collaboration where people can tinker and experiment. We already know that the skills in demand in the next 10-15 years require fluency of ideas, creativity, ability to think systemically, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. How will we plan our cities around that reality? While technology shapes the invisible infrastructure of smart cities, culture and creativity are necessary to protect the quirkiness that gives cities their own character that connects and inspires humans. For many more reasons, at WUF10 culture will be a key driver for urban sustainability and a strategic asset for creating cities that are more inclusive, innovative and sustainable.

How can we co-create safety in urban informal settlements in Africa?

Creative Cities are Safer Cities Networking Event
The Creative Cities are Safer Cities initiative will organize a Networking event during WUF10 to explore what gaps creativity can fill in order to create and sustain safer cities in Africa. With a focus on frugal innovation, this event will explore how design can reframe the safety problem and apply fresh, effective insight to existing urban safety initiatives. Additionally it explores how an Urban Living Lab can play a role in this. In the future, the initiative members have the aim to establish Living Labs in Durban and Nairobi where existing community-based initiatives are being identified and new initiatives to enable local creative and entrepreneurs are being developed.

Knowledge Exchange


What will happen during the event?
Creativity is about designing innovative solutions, which can be technical and social and which can have an impact at a governance arrangement. These solutions need to be locally relevant, and, they need to come from inside the concerned communities in order to be effective. Creativity thus addresses local needs, but is also needed to link bottom-up initiatives to top-down planning and upscaling.

The event will address three key questions:

  • How can frugal innovation and creativity improve safety in informal settlements in African cities?
  • What role can Living Labs play in developing solutions to achieve safer informal settlements?
  • What key dimensions of urban safety benefit the most from enabling local creative and entrepreneurs in African cities?

Share and Generate knowledge
The main objective of this networking event is to share and generate knowledge with other urban professionals about addressing urban safety in culturally diverse informal settlements in African Cities in a human design centred way, more specifically by enabling creativity and stimulating frugal innovation in an urban Living Lab approach. The event will bring together stakeholders engaged in establishing urban Living Labs on this issue in both Nairobi and Durban.

Culture and Creativity
Culture can be regarded as the fourth pillar of sustainable development. We embrace the broad understanding of culture as: knowledge, art, belief, capacilities, habits, morals and behaviors. Enabling creativity and innovation from the bottom-up is an important driver of change in areas of cultural diversity. In many informal settlements in African cities there is cultural diversity: people from various cultural groups have moved to the city and land in an informal settlement. The diversity also has challenges, which might reduce the (experienced) safety of urban residents. An inclusive bottom-up approach, using the creativity and frugal innovation skills of the people living in these informal settings, can help societies to develop safer cities.

Creative capital in Durban and Nairobi
During this networking event we share and co-create knowledge on the potential that creative frugal solutions can engender safety of cities, drawing insights from our experience with urban Living Labs in Nairobi and Durban. In those urban areas we have seen that cultural diversity goes hand in hand with creative capital and we work towards enhancing vitality, improved social infrastructure and career choices to help attract the skills and talent required for addressing urban safety. We use dialogue, partnerships and network formation as means to achieve transformation of cities. The network event will propose concrete ideas, innovations, methodology and measures for national and local governments, city managers, planners and entrepreneurs in the interplay of culture, creativity and citizen-led engagement to jointly develop safer cities.

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 Read more on Creative Cities are Safer Cities in the Knowledge File