Green, social, and digital change-makers share their unfiltered stories and insights.

Is it a conference? Festival? Event? Urban Future is it all! It is Europe's most inspiring event for people who are driving change to make our cities more sustainable. Whether they are mayors, architects, mobility experts, urban planners, scientists, sustainability managers, representatives of start-ups, environmentalists, innovation experts or others. What unites them is their passion for better cities.

The Programme

The programme release marks a pivotal moment for the conference, scheduled to take place with 2,500 visitors from June 5 to 7 at Rotterdam Ahoy. Attendees from all over the world will converge to experience three official conference days.

With a lineup of around 200 speakers, 60 sessions, 35 field trips and 20 side events, Urban Future 2024 is positioned to deliver a detailed exploration of green, social, and digital elements within urban landscapes. The conference is structured around five themes: climate adaptation, building sustainable cities, social aspects of transformation, leadership and CityChanger skills.

5 topic tracks for better cities

The #UF24 programme is now officially out, highlighting 5 specific themes to be thoroughly discussed:

Track 1: Climate Adaptation - Cities must transform, and this track focuses on the essential steps: execution, avoiding pitfalls, building necessary teams and skills, prioritizing actions, and successful collaboration with citizens.
Track 2: Building Sustainable Cities - To revolutionize urban development, we must embrace significant changes. This involves reusing building materials, closing loops in construction, and efficiently repurposing city spaces.
Track 3: Social Aspects of Transformation - To understand how “social” and “green”can go together, we’ll learn how to rally enough people behind “green”, and how to talk to those who won’t.
Track 4: Personal Growth - This track focuses on the personal experience of those who drive change, on how to make change happen – and how not to. All with the goal to help build resilience and grow as leaders.
Track 5: CityChanger Skills - Whether you’re just getting started, gaining influence, or scaling for impact, skills for CityChangers provides you with essential know-how for taking your next step.

Rotterdam – an icon in adaptability & innovation

Rotterdam is located in a delta region prone to water-related risks and was reconstructed following the aftermath of World War II. Therefore, the city has become known for adapting to challenging and constantly-changing circumstances. Rotterdam is also famous for its resilience and forward-looking mindset. Additionally, Rotterdam has nurtured a cooperative bond with its inhabitants and continues to embrace creative concepts.

These are just a few reasons to look to Rotterdam for significant, local stories and lessons. Day three will cover field trips into the city, where Rotterdam awaits discovery. In small groups, attendees are invited to see, feel and experience the city first-hand with expert guides.

Gerald Babel-Sutter, CEO and co-founder of Urban Future says, "Every year we tailor the themes to the host city, but our overarching theme always remains: how do you bring about change? Rotterdam is a perfect fit for us. The city is strongly committed to sustainability, its distinctive architecture and rich history of innovation and change. Urban Future is ultimately about the adaptability of cities and their residents, emphasizing the importance of soft skills in fostering meaningful change."

Who will be there

International CityChangers from each track will enter the stages, talking about the highs and lows of making projects like the Barcelona Superblocks or the greening of the Champs Elysée happen. Specialists from fields such as urban planning, architecture, mobility, energy, real estate and construction meet without barriers, regardless of organizational form or hierarchy.

So far, mayors and city officials from 60 cities have signed up to join Urban Future 2024. Some of them are: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bratislava, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Helsingborg, Leicester, Lisboa, Napoli, Paris, Vienna and Warsaw.

“The uniting element in between all these movers and shakers of the urban world, is the passion that they bring to the table when improving urban living,” says Gerald Babel-Sutter.

Among others, these change-makers will speak at #UF24:

Ahmed Aboutaleb – Mayor of Rotterdam
Christophe Najdovski – Deputy Mayor of Paris, Revegetation, Green Spaces, Biodiversity and Animal Condition. President Parisian Urban Planning
Derk Loorbach – Director at DRIFT, Rotterdam
Eleanor Sharpe – Head of the Department of Planning and Development, City of Philadelphia
Elena Doms – Born in the Arctic & on a mission to protect it, Head of +EARTH+, cleaning Soils & CO2 with Nature, Sustainability Speaker & Artist
Janet Sanz – Former Deputy Mayor for urbanism, ecology and mobility and now Vice President of Climate Action and Strategic Planning, Barcelona
Lykke Leonardsen – Head of program for Resilient and Sustainable City Solutions at City of Copenhagen
Rutger Bregman – Author of two New York Times Bestsellers “Utopia for Realists” and “Humankind”, The Netherlands
Safaa Chafari – Gender consultant at Urban Inclusion, working towards more inclusive, fairer, safer and more prosperous cities
Susan Leadbetter – Principal Consultant or “The Gender Equality Maker” at WSP, London
Vojtech Vosicky – LinkedIn Top Green Voice, Circular Economist, helps organisations go circular
Xavier Matilla Ayala – Former Chief Architect of Barcelona, Project Leader Superblocks

The speakers, sessions, field trips and side events will fill the conference week to the brim with content, all with one goal: to bring urban change.

“Urban transformation is never, ever easy. At Urban Future you will hear not only the ‘sunny side up’ stories, but also the real, unfiltered side of change-making,” adds Gerald Babel-Sutter. “Anyone who is passionate about their city, simply must be at #UF24 in Rotterdam this year.”


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