The 7th World Urban Forum (WUF7) organized by United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) was hosted in Medellin, Colombia on April 5 – 11, 2014. The World Urban Forum is a conference about cities to examine problems with rapid urbanization, communities, economies, climate change, and policies. This event has been going on every two years in a different city since 2002.
Since being named as one of the most innovative cities, Medellin was the perfect stage to welcome a record attendance of 22,000 people from around the globe.
What drew me to attend the WUF7 was to learn about other cultures and see what cities around the world were doing. Attending the conference gave me ideas on places to visit and where I could possibly volunteer next.
I learned about the WUF7 the week prior through a banner hanging on the side of the Plaza Mayor conference center. I was lucky to register onsite the day the forum started even though registration was closed. I took a chance and just showed up to see if I could score a pass. The WUF7 was kind to make acceptions to foreigners who traveled far, but my Colombian friends were unable to register last minute. While my friends were unable to attend, going solo wasn’t a problem. I used the Couchsurfing website to connect with other travelers and locals who already had tickets, so making new friends to explore WUF7 was easy.
Lesson: Regardless if registration is closed, as a foreigner attending events abroad it always helps to ask if there is any possibility to still get a ticket. You might get lucky.
The WUF7 had so many sessions going on that it was difficult and overwhelming for me to chose which to attend, but this event actually turned out to be a wonderful way to explore Medellin because there where so many free tours.
The Metro of Medellin offered free tours of their public transit system. Medellin is definitely on the forefront of innovation when it comes to mobility. Their system has an integrated bus, train, and cable car lines. They pride themselves on their Metro Culture and how they are able to improve the quality of lives of citizens by reducing commute times to give back lost hours so people can spend more time with their friends and family.
The Public Pilot Library of Medellin for Latin America (La Biblioteca Pública Piloto de Medellín para América Latina) also offered free library tours. We visited Biblioteca España which is a library park that serves as a cultural center as well. This community resource is a way to bring residents together and learn new things which will hopefully transform their lives.
The free internet connection in the library was good so I was able to broadcast a part of the tour live. Check it out in the video below.
In the evenings, there were several free shows throughout the city.
El Guayacán Amarillo Un Historia de Medellin
This musical told the history of Medellin showing the various moments in time by presenting them as moods.
Totó la Momposina
The legendary singer and dancer, Totó la Momposina performed her Colombian Caribbean sounds.
Attending the World Urban Forum 7 in Medellin was a wonderful way to experience the city and culture. Hats off to Medellin for doing an awesome job hosting WUF7.
If your ever lucky to be where the next event is, it might be a great way to explore a city. Check out UN-Habitat to learn more.
Category: Things to do