MARUF21: Re-think, Co-act Held Online

Marmara Urban Forum (MARUF), organized for the second time on 1-3 October 2021 by Marmara Municipalities Union, was held with the participation of over 500 speakers from more than 50 countries. At the forum, 108 sessions in different formats such as panel sessions, training sessions, discussion sessions, roundtables, side events, workshops, networking events, awards, showcases took place at 10 parallel virtual rooms.

Considering the need to re-question established urban policies and solutions emerged with the COVID-19 pandemic, MARUF21 was shaped around the title of “Cities Developing Solutions: Re-think, Co-Act”. MARUF21, which offered an opportunity to transform the lessons learned during the pandemic that has deeply shaken cities around the world into teachings and to initiate radical transformations, focused on six main axes that feed each other. In the light of these axes, namely “healthy”, “inclusive”, “innovative”, “resilient”, “sustainable” and “creative” cities, the problems of the cities and solutions for them were discussed.

“A hopeful call that a better life is possible and necessary for everyone”

At the forum, General Coordinator of MARUF and Secretary General of Marmara Municipalities Union (MMU) M. Cemil Arslan conveyed the first welcome message where he stated that the call to re-think and co-act is a hopeful call that a better life is possible and necessary for everyone. He added, “We don't need to forget what we already know. They will continue to guide us. Life is a process and accumulation. However, our memorization, thinking and production-consumption habits are far from producing a response to the new situation. We need bolder, broader, and more collaborative efforts.”

The opening speeches of the forum were made by the Minister of Environment and Urbanization of the Republic of Turkey Murat Kurum, UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif, and the President of MMU and the Mayor of Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality Tahir Büyükakın.

“This year's theme is particularly relevant during the pandemic”

UN-Habitat Executive Director Ms. Sharif, who sent a video message for the forum, said, “This year’s theme ‘Re-think and Co-act’ is particularly relevant in the era of ongoing global pandemic. We need to re-think and to act together to deliver our commitment towards the SDGs. At the same time, we must also strengthen our coping mechanisms and build solidarity among individuals, among cities, and across the global community, build a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable future for all.”

“Cities are key actors to Leave No One Behind”

MMU President Mr. Büyükakın said, “MARUF is a platform which invites the global and local actors to think together in line with the SDGs. Cities are at the forefront of the main actors for the success of these global goals and for no one to be left behind. This is only possible by building ‘sustainable cities and communities’ as stated in the eleventh goal.”

“One of the slogans of the new era should be a 'resilient and flexible city'”

In his video message, the Minister of Environment and Urbanization of the Republic of Turkey Mr. Kurum emphasized the importance of establishing resilient cities and stated, “One of the slogans of the new era should be ‘resilient and flexible city’ since our cities are becoming more fragile for many reasons, especially due to the unhealthy building stock. It is a necessity for us, rather than a choice, to determine a policy pursuant to the changing conditions and rising social demands, and to take steps accordingly.”

Opening Session: Re-Think & Co-Act

In the opening session moderated by Dr. Nihal Eminoğlu from Çanakkale University, LSE Cities Executive Director Dr. Philipp Rode, UN-Habitat Chief of Urban Practices Branch Dr. Shipra Narang Suri, OECD Head of Urban Policies and Reviews Soo-Jin Kim, UNDP Turkey Resident Representative Louisa Vinton, and MMU President Tahir Büyükakın were present as speakers. The speakers emphasized the importance of thinking about the current problems of cities and developing global strategies by acting together.

More than 100 sessions held on over 110 topics

More than 100 sessions from biodiversity to culture, from participation to migration, from urban technologies to disaster management, from data management to transportation, from food policies to security, were held in MARUF 21.

You may find more information on MARUF here.