Kuala Lumpur is a Malay phrase for “muddy confluence” which is hardly a glowing description. Actually, there was little to be excited about in the early years at the meeting of two murky rivers when a handful of mining community settled there. Yet, despite its unpromising origin, Kuala Lumpur has grown up full of confidence and has asserted its presence at the global stage hosting the Malaysian Grand Prix, Commonwealth Games and recently the World Urban Forum (7-13 Feb), a premier international UN-Habitat conference on pressing urban issues of today, namely, rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies.
At the heart of KL’s central business district and within the precinct of the Petronas Towers, KL’s instant icon (two slender tapering steeples linked by a delicate skyway half way up), lay the arena for the Ninth Session of the World Urban Forum with a theme “Cities 2030, Cities for All: Implementing the New Urban Agenda”. It was the first major conference following the 2016 adoption of the New Urban Agenda at Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador. The Forum’s focus was on the New Urban Agenda as a tool and accelerator for achieving Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals. 22000 participants from 165 countries, among them more than 100 Ministers and Deputy Ministers, debated concrete implementation steps and how to work together building the Cities 2030, Cities for All.
The NUA aligns with SDG 11 on making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Gender Equality (SDG 5) is among its various other aims. Safetipin’s participation as an organisation which works towards making cities safe and inclusive was primarily to engage in this global open discussion, to raise awareness, share lessons learnt, exchange ideas, develop best practices and to contribute to the collective knowledge of sustainable urban development. Safetipin was invited to various events to share its experience and lessons.
During the forum, it was very reassuring to learn about Safetipin’s presence at the global scene as an innovative technological solution to address urban safety. Safetipin an effective tool to gather geo tagged data impacting safety, popped up in many discussions. And in many, it was seen as a powerful driver of change.
At an ITDP networking event - What does Transit Oriented Development mean to you? - Safetipin stressed on the difference in the mobility patterns of women and men and why such patterns must be addressed in TOD from a gender equality perspective.
At another side event on Sustainable Transport by Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI) at the German Pavilion placed inside the fantastic WUF 9 exhibition space, found Safetipin’s solution to be unique to address urban mobility and safety among other strategies adopted to make cities inclusive.
The event Using Apps to Address Gender Based Violence saw the presentation of three apps that address violence and was followed by a productive discussion on how to ensure that apps can be more widely used and useful for women in situations of distress. The benefits as well as limitations of technology were discussed.
Huaiwei in partnership with UN Habitat organized a session on Measurement of Safe City Approaches which had presentations form many countries including South Korea and Safetipin from India. The aim of the session was to assess different ways of measuring indicators of how to make cities safer using technology, big data and other kinds of data that will enable deeper understanding.
At yet another side event on Asia’s Solution to Asia’s Urban Challenges: Delivering the New Urban Agenda through South-South Cooperation by The Asia Foundation – looked at various challenges and strategies undertaken by various approaches in the global south to address its own urban issues. Safetipin was seen as such a solution which was developed in the south and is being used extensively in the south.
Safetipin’s own side event – Using data and technology to build inclusive public spaces in cities – presented experiences of collaboratively collecting data by partnering with Safetipin in order to build inclusive public spaces. Stories from low income settlements to cooperation from enthusiastic youths were shared while collecting data in India and other countries.
Safetipin’s co-founder Dr. Kalpana Viswanath represented Safetipin at the above sessions along with Rwitee Mandal, an urban designer working with Safetipin. Kalpana also moderated a high profile UN-Habitat event – Urban Planning and Design for Local Implementation which focused and debated on policy recommendations in the implementation of the NUA.
Kuala Lumpur successfully hosted the weeklong WUF 9 and would be remembered by all the participants world over to have attended a brilliantly organized and managed event at the state of the art Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in sunny and drizzly KL. Kuala Lumpur Declaration was announced at the closing ceremony which said – “Led by a strong spirit of collaboration, creativity and innovation, we share our aspirations for the future of Cities 2030 as the Cities for all where no-one and no place is left behind.”