Cathérine was at the Urban Future conference representing WeMaCo and was also selected to be part of a group of young leaders participating in the UF23 Young Leaders Programme. This included an exclusive day before the actual conference for inspiration, leadership development and collaboration with other leaders from all continents. The Urban Future Conference itself offered three days of content on many different important urban development topics. The topics were climate protection, new forms of mobility, innovations, sustainable construction and renovation, redesign of city centres, citizen participation as well as leadership culture and skills for city changers.
We heard, for example, how to get people to change and engage, why participation is essential and how it should be designed, and where the biggest challenges and levers are in the renovation of Europe’s building stock. In addition, the Young Leaders had exclusive talks with leaders in sustainable urban development. Cathérine was therefore able to learn from Mohamed Ridouani how he, as mayor of Leuven, wants to make the city climate-friendly and what they have already achieved in this pioneering city.
What did we take away from the Urban Future Conference?
Here are some key points Cathérine took away from the conference:
“I am amazed at what is already happening in cities around the world, what committed people have achieved so far and how many young professionals are working to contribute to a better society. We will help to grow this and spread hope and commitment in our immediate environment. An environment like the one created at the Urban Future Conference not only helps to deepen one’s own knowledge, but is above all valuable for all participants as a source of strength and a motivating factor. The more people and cities set out on the path, the faster positive global change will progress. This is how we can gain the necessary critical mass of people for improved societal systems.
We should all be courageous and brave. Especially in Germany and similar societies, I have the feeling that many of us tend not to do things because of fears that only exist in our heads. I admire the people around the world who are engaged even though they face real threats because of their work. They fight against corruption, restricted freedom of speech and expression, extreme poverty, enormous environmental destruction and much more. Let us not take our immense privileges for granted, let us become active and support others in much more difficult situations.
See other people for what they are: Fellow human beings and equal. No one is worth less because he:she was born a girl, with special abilities, a more difficult background, a different skin colour or any other “difference” our minds and social patterns might invent. Break the patterns and help those who are pioneers in their field.
All groups must be seen and heard in (urban) planning with their needs and also the contributions they can make in the right environment. Cities and buildings should be designed for all people and not just for some privileged groups.”
The Urban Future Conference enriches our work
Through the conference, WeMaCo has expanded its German and international network and created the basis for new collaborations and the exchange of insights from numerous cities. We will incorporate these insights into our future work and use them to support our clients with in-depth knowledge and integrated, systemic thinking based on current best practices. We have heard and seen how different cities are implementing the concepts that we also like to work with, e.g. to create good conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.