Community Building – From Rural Areas to Mega Cities

Community development challenges are as diverse as the geographical landscapes that they inhabit. Rural communities often struggle with issues such as population decline, limited access to quality healthcare and education, and underdeveloped infrastructure, leading to a lack of economic opportunities and stagnation. In contrast, the challenges of megacities are usually associated with rapid urbanization and densification, escalating housing costs, rising inequality, and a growing polarization among diverse socio-economic and cultural groups coexisting within the same urban space.

The dynamics of these challenges, although seemingly disparate, are in fact interconnected, underpinned by global trends and pressures, such as climate change, technological advancements, migration, and socio-economic transformations. This shared ground opens the opportunity for innovative, transdisciplinary solutions that draw insights from both rural and urban contexts, and that bridge the gap between different fields of expertise.

In this session, we will gather an esteemed panel of policy leaders, architects, and urbanists from around the world. Each speaker will bring to the table their unique perspectives and experiences on community building, examining the core issues and solution models that have been applied in diverse local contexts.

Our conversation will not only provide an overview of the current landscape of community development but will delve deeper into contemporary challenges that require novel, transdisciplinary approaches. This includes issues like climate resilience and adaptation, smart and sustainable urban planning, social inclusivity and cohesion, and the integration of technology in community building.

By fostering an informed dialogue and exchange between rural and urban perspectives, we will explore how the experiences and lessons learned in big cities, urban neighborhoods, villages, and rural settlements can inform each other, and how these insights can be used to strengthen their respective abilities to thrive and build more sustainable communities.


Gaetan Siew

UIA Past President, Special Envoy to UN-Habitat

Line Barfod

Mayor, Technical and Environmental Affairs, City of Copenhagen

Tao Zhihong

Deputy Director of Beijing Municipal Commission for Planning and Natural Resources / Deputy Director of Bid Committee for UIA 2029 Congress


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