The 5th World Urban Forum

Greetings from Brazil especially from the City of Rio de Janeiro, the January River. I guess not many knew that or bothered to know that. Apparently Guanabara Bay where the river flows to was found on 1st January 1502 by the Portuguese and hence the river was named January River and in Portuguese Rio de Janeiro.

One thing I can tell you is that the city is a totally European city in the middle of South America which is not surprising. It even served as the capital of Portugal when Napoleon invaded Portugal and many Portuguese migrated to Rio and reestablished the capital here making it the most unusual of capital of a European country. It was not in Europe.

What am I doing here? If you have been keeping track, I am here to attend this:-

The 5th World Urban Forum organised by United Nations Habitat. The World Urban Forum is the largest gathering of policy makers and practitioners of planning and housing. It's held every two years. I attended the last one in Nanjing in 2008. The amount of knowledge available and the amount of discussion were tremendous.

This is the opening ceremony. The organisers seriously underestimated the number of people turning up. In most of the talks or forums we attended, there were not enough seats. The event is being held at converted old warehouses and the airconditiong is next to attrocious. On the second day, most of us turned up minus coat and tie and everyone blended in with the Cariocas (the Rio people).

Unlike our solemn opening ceremony, here the opening ceremony is loud and very musical. Despite the heat, people can still dance and sing. The maximum temperature yesterday was around 40 Celsius.

I guess recycling at its height.

Finally, President Lula of Brazil going up to the do the opening ceremony.


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