The IFSW team was lead by the IFSW Senior Vice President, Mr. Charles Mbugua, and included Mr. John Ang, (IFSW President of Asia Pacific Region), Mr Xu Liugen (Vice President of the China Association of Social Workers) and delegates from Hong Kong, China, Kenya and Malaysia. Social workers from China, and in particular from Nanjing Chapter, turned up in large numbers. IFSW presented a major event titled “Social work practice in developing cities” which has been showcased the involvement of social workers in disaster work following the earthquakes in Pakistan and Indonesia, floods in Malaysia and Tsunami in Aceh. Micro-economic activities in the cities of Cairo and Nairobi and social work with internally displaced persons in Kenya has been described.
IFWS was among the major visible participants at the Forth World Urban Forum held in Nanjing, China on 3-7 November 2008. In addition to conducting a Habitat seminar tilted Social Work Practice in Developing Cities ,Vice President of the China Association of Social Workers Mr. Xu Liugen co-chaired the UN- Habitat Civil Society Forum and also held disummision with the UN team on the UN-Habitat CSO Strategy paper.
This is the third time that IFWS has taken part in this biennial gathering which is normally attended by a wide range of UN partners, urban thinkers and professionals, academics local and central governments and other UN agencies such as ILO, WHO, UNESCO and UNDP.
The event provided an opportunity to build bridges between partners, integrate and mutually support objectives of broad based participation through inter alia forming alliances, pooling resources, sharing knowledge, contributing skills and capitalizing on the comparative advantage of global collective actions. Unlike the three previous events the, WUF4 cerebrated city as a carrier of civilization and the guardian of culture, social and environmental stewardship for an ever increasing world population that will have to share limited resources on a finite globe. And as majority on the world population begin to live in cities, social workers approach and strategy to social development also need to change and new partnerships and alliances need to the forged.
The role of social workers in reconciling contradictory and complimentary elements in urban development issues will in the next 30 years or so be informed by the realization that more urban population will be added to cities than any other comparable period in history With existing and new IFSW membership in some of the poorest regions of the world which have the largest slum population that suffer from multiple shelter deprivation overcrowding and lack of access to clean water IFSW and UN-HABITAT cooperation will continue to be strengthened through shared priorities in advocating for a balanced social development which enhance the economic potential of cities and region around them. The emerging reality now shared by both is IFW and UN- Habitat is that modern cities can no longer be treated as distinct spaces unconnected to regions surrounding them and hence balanced development cannot occur without sharing the visible and hidden opportunities that arise out of the flow of people and resources from one area another to another.
More than ever before, UN is working much closer with the private sector and there is also evidence that a section of the private sector is now a vital partner in social work practice and the two must work closely if social development was to achieve the envisaged sustainability. While IFSW like UN is in full support of business community operating within ethical parameters, it also holds very strongly that that viable business cannot succeed in socially failed societies and therefore the business community has a role to play in creating and supporting the functioning of societies and communities for business to thrive.
IFSW Participation had 5 key features
1 Habitat Seminar
The presentation focused on the WUF theme and how it relates to social work practice in cities. Elizabeth a social worker in Mathare slums demonstrate how an illegal brewing activity by youth in Mathare valley slums was transformed into a farming and hawking enterprise through social work intervention .An area which previously was a no- go-zone became a friendly and a meeting centre for all.
Sharima from Malaysia demonstrated the role of social work process in a disaster situation in cities while Jackton demonstrated how new migrants into cities fuse into city life even with no immediate next of kin to welcome them in the city. The climax of the seminar was a video on social work perspective on microeconomic activities such as hawking, vending and urban farming in the city of Nairobi
2 Civil Society Forum
IFSW had been expected to nominate a co-chair to this important forum .Mr. Xu Liugen from China together with Mr. Davider Lamba of Canada co-chaired the forum at which the CSO strategic paper was discussed, in addition , Mr. Liugen attended a series of meetings with the UN team to discuss among other issues the possibility of forming a permanent committee to lead this forum during the consequent WUFs and during Governing Council sessions.
The IFSW team participated in several dialogues .The objective of a dialogue sessions during WUFs is to stimulate discussions between and among governments, local authorities and other Habitat Agenda partners on how to put into practice lessons learned and actionable ideas. The dialogues also strengthen the commitments of governments as Habitat Agenda partners to local actions and also provide the civil society groups with an opportunity to question the governments on the unfulfilled commitments.
4 Distribution of IFSW flier
IFWS had 2000 copies of a flier titled; Promoting Social Equity and Inclusiveness.
Copies were given out during the seminar; other copies were placed at the registration desk, display tables and entry points where delegates accessed them as they attended the various seminars.
This flier made IFSW effectively visible at this event. The flier relatively carried with it both the IFSW and Hong Kong 2010 websites, and all the 2000 copies were distributed within the 4 days.(A copy available but not able to send by email- hand copies to be posted)
The next world forum will be held in Brazil in 2010, for obvious reasons it will add value for IFSW to participate