The Sustainable Development Network (SDN) of the World Bank held its annual Forum from 19-21 January 2010 at its headquarters in Washington, DC. The overall theme of this year’s forum was ”Act Now, Act Together, Act Differently: Going Forward on Climate Action”.
The SDN Forum is a knowledge-sharing event aimed primarily at SDN staff. The first two days were designated as Network Days. Sector Practices Day was held on 21 January followed by Sector Training Days on 27 and 28 January.
In her opening remarks, SDN Vice President Kathy Sierra reviewed some of the highlights of the past year and outlined future challenges, particularly in the context of the Forum’s theme. She pledged the Bank’s commitment to urban issues and highlighted its focus on climate change as a major strategic thrust.
Following Sierra’s remarks, Ray Suarez, correspondent for PBS NewsHour, moderated a panel discussion on climate change and development. The panel discussed green growth policy directions and renewable forms of energy while reacting to the outcomes of the Copenhagen climate change conference. Panelist Sunita Narain, Director of the Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi, urged the audience to view climate change as a case of social justice. According to her, in that context, the developed countries have an obligation to make significant cuts in emissions in order for Low Income Countries to be able to grow.
Another highlight of the Forum was the Urban Development sector day, which featured a Mayors’ Dialogue attended by World Bank President Robert Zoellick. Other participants included Marcelo Ebrard (Mayor of Mexico City), Adam Kimbisa (Mayor of Dar es Salaam), David Miller (Mayor of Toronto), Elisabete França (Director of the São Paulo municipal housing and urban development agency), David Cadman (President of ICLEI), and Fauzi Bowo (Governor of Jakarta).
The dialogue was a follow-up to the Mayor’s Summit held in December 2009 during the United Nations Climate Change Conference, where a proposal to form a mayors’ task force on urban poverty and climate change was initiated. President Zoellick supported the idea of the task force which would help share knowledge, build capacity and mobilise global resources to fight climate change and urban poverty. Zoellick also reiterated the World Bank’s commitment to urban development with a focus on cities and climate change, and hoped the taskforce would be able to propose investment programmes for the urban poor.
During the Forum’s training days, Cities Alliance Senior Slum Upgrading Specialist Julian Baskin participated in a workshop titled “Slums and Land Markets: Getting ahead of the Curve”. He spoke of current challenges involving the efficient use of urban land markets and the importance of planning slum upgrading projects that take into account the needs of the poor.