The ICRC at the World Urban Forum: Cities’ resilience is key in armed conflict and violence

The ICRC at the World Urban Forum: Cities’ resilience is key in armed conflict and violence

As the world urbanizes, armed violence and conflict are urbanizing too – affecting some 50 million people today. Half of the world's population already lives in cities and, in the next 50 years, this proportion is expected to rise to two-thirds. Thus, cities are becoming increasingly important operational theatres for the ICRC, responding to people’s lived experiences of complex and protracted urban warfare and violence.
Article 05 August 2022

The harsh reality of armed conflict and violence in vibrant global cities creates complex humanitarian challenges that need to be addressed. One key question is: How can humanitarian actors like the ICRC and others best support city authorities to ensure people have access to essential urban services – such as healthcare, water, and sanitation – despite high levels of armed conflict or violence?

ICRC participating in a panel at the World Urban Forum on "Transforming our Cities for a Better Urban Future"

Such challenges make it vital that the ICRC is present in key urban fora to influence policy thinking and declarations and to profile and garner support for the ICRC's and wider Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement's urban work in the field. For this reason, the ICRC participated in the 2022 World Urban Forum in Poland – together with IFRC and multiple National Societies.

Established by the United Nations to address one of the world's most pressing issues, the World Urban Forum (WUF) is now the world's leading conference on urbanism.

Significant urban challenges include reducing the increasing level of poverty in cities, improving access to basic services for the urban poor – such as housing, clean water, and sanitation – and ensuring urban development and growth are both sustainable and beneficial to the environment. Increasing urban warfare and urban violence – and corresponding to those, have amplified ICRC's interest, footprint, and presence at the World Urban Forum to learn from other urban actors and to draw on its experience in urban humanitarian action to influence the policy debates and ideas exchanged during the conference.

Gilles Carbonnier speaking at a high-level panel at the World Urban Forum in Katowice, Poland

Our calls for WUF 2022

  1. Respect and ensure respect for IHL and strengthen the protection of civilians when fighting in cities.
  3. Strengthen essential services on which people living in cities depend – including healthcare, water, sanitation, electricity, and education – to help mitigate the cumulative impacts of urban warfare and urban violence.
  5. Enhance protection and assistance for people displaced because of urban warfare and urban violence – those who flee cities, as well as those displaced to, between, or within cities.
  7. Mitigate hunger and food insecurity in situations of urban warfare and urban violence, including by supporting people's livelihoods and local markets.

Gilles Carbonnier speaking at the World Urban Forum in Katowice, Poland

What's next?

The next World Urban Forum will take place in Cairo, Egypt in 2023.

Humanitarian action in no way detracts from the obligations of states and other duty bearers to comply with their obligations aimed at reducing human suffering. However, in light of the severe cumulative impacts of urban warfare and violence on people's lives and livelihoods, the ICRC will continue to strengthen its urban capacities, including by contributing to implementation of two urban resolutions adopted at the Movement's Council of Delegates on war in cities and on urban resilience.