A Habitat UNI Hub is a consortium of universities that agree to work on the same thematic priority under the principles of mutual collaboration, exchange and learning, producing outputs which strengthen the role of universities in forwarding sustainable urban development. The Hubs established under the umbrella of the Habitat Universities are to link the ongoing related work of UN-Habitat to the work the Hub does on the subject. Through active collaborations UN-Habitat and these academic consortia are to forward research and action on the thematic target, promoting education, policy advice and professional development which are updated to current urban realities, and which have a strong focus on translating into direct impacts on the city level.
You find a full definition of a Hub, as well as requirements and roles involved here
The current Hubs are:
Informal Urbanism: Hosted by University of Hannover, Germany
Urban Governance: Hosted by London Metropolitan University, UK
Climate Change: Hosted by Makerere University, Uganda
Food Security: Hosted by Newcastle University, UK
Urban Futures: Hosted by University of South Florida, US
Find descriptions of and information on how to engage in these Hubs in the tabs below.
What: The thematic hub on ‘Informal Urbanism’ provides a platform for exchange in studying the phenomenon of informal urbanization and the advance of understanding related to improve policies and responses in the future. It seeks an interdisciplinary perspective that views physical, social, cultural, economic, environmental, governance and policy issues as interdependent. The Hub supports activities that can be generally categorized into two streams:
1) Studying and better understanding existing informal urbanization, including responses by governments, NGO’s and academic institutions in the form of citywide upgrading programs, integration policies and redevelopment approaches.
2) Studying future informal urbanization, trends and anticipative approaches and strategies that include but are not limited to the development of sustainable living strategies for arriving low populations.
Why: The goal of the Hub is to enable academics to make a useful contribution to practices and policies that improve the lives of those living in informal conditions. Currently, municipal attitudes towards informal urbanism range from eradication to neglect to grudging tolerance; sometimes to improvement and rarely to anticipation. This Hub will investigate and propose appropriate processes of engagement for academics and professionals to improve and anticipate informal urbanization. This production of knowledge and empirical evidences is to improve research and education methodologies on the topic of informal urbanism as well as provide a window for academics to work with and contribute to the improvement of UN-Habitat programs. This to help mainstream the results of academic production and ideas into the global debate led by the United Nations in improving the lives of urban dwellers.
Who: The Hub embraces an inclusive, inter-disciplinary and inter-regional approach to the investigation of informal urbanism. As many academics are working on issues related to informal urbanism from a variety of perspectives much can be gained by sharing innovative practices across urban disciplines. The phenomenon of informal urbanism is geographically diverse and the Hub will engage with individuals and institutions from around the globe to exchange regional approaches and best practices. For a list of proposed partnerships and connected projects, see concept note.
How: The Hub will serve as a platform for academic exchange and collaboration on topics related to informal urbanism. The Hub will grow over time in response to the discussions generated by exchange between members. A phased development approach is proposed as a means to guide this development.
Phase 1: Academic Exchangeto facilitate member exchange and discussion through annual conferences.
Phase 2: Coordinated Research to use coordinated research initiatives in investigating research questions identified by member institutions and UN-Habitat in phase one.
Phase 3: Academic & Professional Collaboration Progressing to collaboration between academic institutions and UN-Habitat and other partner institutions on relevant projects.
What: To document, analyze and promote effective governance models, processes and tools to deliver sustainable urban development in line with current global trends. The Hub will create an evidence base of practical knowledge and expertise involved in researching and delivering urban governance, alongside evaluation of such practices, to enable impact on education and policy, and enable others to deliver promising practice. The Hub has the aim to deliver more inclusive, participatory and effective governance, particularly in relation to the three macro trends of: planning and design for urbanization; the near ubiquity of mobile and other information and communication technologies in developing countries; and the demographic reality of youth being the preponderance of urban populations in most/all developing countries. It focuses on documentation, analysis, and promotion of promising practices regarding sustainable urban governance.
Often the elements that deliver urban governance are intertwined within various government departments and are difficult to access and make known. This Hub will allow a collective resource to be developed and shared through the network. As the principals of promising practice of governance are often challenging to relay, the collective resource will allow practice to be shared with universities and open up opportunities for methods to be analyzed and improved through academic study that is linked to the realities of urban environments, and subsequently make a useful contribution to practices and policies that improve the life in urban places. The Hub raises awareness for promising practices and engage academia and governments in supporting their further spread, development and application.
This Hub will provide a forum for local and central government functionaries and associations, academics and professionals to connect and share their practice and polices of effective urban governance, and by doing so, create a resource that can be promoted to influence the practice of others. The initial proposal is for 15 regional university-government representatives to be part of the core group. The Hub will be closely connected with other HPUI thematic Hubs, other UN-Habitat programmes, key local government contacts, and ensure collaboration with civil society, national government, NGO’s, youth organisations, and the private sector (including telecoms). For a list of proposed partnerships and connected projects, see concept note,
The Hub serves as a platform for recording information, exchanging knowledge and enabling promising practice.The first phase of this will happen through the online HPUI portal. A template to record promising practice will be available and sent to interested parties. The case study template along with the evaluation will form the basis of the online resource library. Following this, an online discussion will be held, with invited specialists asked to participate and discuss the initial case studies and evaluations. This program will be repeated several times in order to build up the resource. Each time it is repeated, an online discussion forum will be held to disseminate findings of the case studies and evaluations, to help direct the agenda of the subsequent research.
What: This Hub focuses on climate change and disaster risk reduction responding to the knowledge and practice gaps in adaptation and mitigation of climate change. The Hub will provide a platform for knowledge generation through interactive processes of research-dissemination-uptake. The Hub builds on a multiplicity of methodological and analytical frameworks that enhance co-generation of knowledge among academics working with students, communities and researchers in the various regions. It focuses on knowledge management initiatives that are envisaged to enable transfer of knowledge to practice, tools, frameworks and utilizing multiple strategies for dissemination. It is envisaged the Hub to provide knowledge on practice, strategies and develop capacity on climate change issues affecting cities through enhancing existing training and educational modules but also develop new modules. The modules will be tailored for on-demand training to decision makers and other climate knowledge users.
Why: The Hub rationale is to contribute to the identified knowledge gap in climate change and urban disaster risk reduction. But there are also research-policy and practice gaps needed for current and future response. These gaps will be filled by developing tools, policy briefs, strategies and approaches to respond to the climate change challenge. The Hub is to enable urban actors to make a useful contribution to practices and policies that improve the lives of urban dwellers while addressing urban risks and hazards. In addition the capacity development programming is to train future practitioners with necessary skills and knowledge that addresses climate risks, adaptation and mitigation. Recognizing the existence of various research and capacity development initiatives, the activities of the hub envisaged to provide a knowledge-sharing platform.
Who: The Hub is comprised of members from diverse disciplines and institutions with a broad range of expertise. This is considered an important element and principle of the hub that will enable build a team with multi-disciplinary skills to steer research and co-generation of knowledge on the thematic areas of the hub. Members’ disciplines range from Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Architecture, Environmental Science, Business Management and Social Sciences. For a list of proposed partnerships and connected projects, see concept note.
How: The Hub is planned and envisaged to develop leveraging existing initiatives of knowledge generation and management. A phased development approach is proposed as a means to guide the development of the hub. Phase 1: A Local Urban Knowledge Arena (LUKA) has been established at the coordinating in-depth research on specific topics drawn from the thematic areas of the hub. Phase 2: This phase will overlap with phase one to produce research outputs namely, published papers, policy briefs, application tools and research conferences/workshops geared towards dissemination of emerging knowledge. Phase 3: For continuity and sustainability of the hub, training modules, curricula and training events will be organized including workshops, writing workshops and faculty exchanges.
A collaboration of academic and practice partners seeking to promote urban food security through development of initiatives in research, communications, education, outreach, and capacity building, to assure a sustainable urban food supply that reduces environmental impact, enhances the food security and livelihoods of the urban poor and protects public health and urban ecosystems.
Urban food security, as defined by continuation of affordable, appropriate, safe and accessible supply, is probably the most critical issue facing the urban poor in the Global South. The UN recently raised concern over escalating world food prices. However, work on urban food security has typically been disconnected from other development agendas; for example, spatial and urban development, housing and settlements, water quality, health, sustainability or urban governance. There is an urgent need to bring these agendas together. Moreover, because the provision of a sustainable food supply has strong links with several UN-Habitat issues, including resilience and gender, the theme cross-cuts several of the WUC themes.
Initially: Newcastle University, Global Urban Research Unit, Global Urban Research Unit (UK); University of Pennsylvania, Penn Institute for Urban Research (USA); Chandigarh University (India); Obafemi Awolowo University (Nigeria); Foro Ciudades Para La Vida (Peru); University of South Florida (USA); University of Twente (Netherlands).
For a list of proposed partnerships and connected projects, see concept note
Partners developed and circulated a draft work plan at the HPUI Global Meeting in Tampa, May 11, 2013. In order to advance the program, members will work virtually and meet regularly at international meetings. They will engage in the following activities: Research: The Hub will develop a global landscape study of urban food security, surveying and assessing national and local food security policies and make recommendations for improved policies. Instruction: The Hub will create a web-based catalog of curriculum offerings and develop modules to enhance knowledge and capacity building in urban food security for further and higher education which will also be the basis of capacity building materials. Communications: The Hub will develop an educational and awareness outreach campaign related to urban food security through a range of audience-specific publications, including a quarterly bulletin. It will also seek to develop and host workshops related to research and instructional initiatives.
URBAN FUTURES - Habitat UniversitiesThematicHub
Hosted by: University of South Florida
Hub Coordinator: Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy: firstname.lastname@example.org
What: The Urban Futures Hub is a centre of excellence for developing new approaches and tools to foster sustainable urban communities and environments through collaborative research. In adopting a forward-looking view, the Hub will focus not only on current but also emerging trends in urban development, embracing innovative and creative solutions to the problems surrounding urban planning and integrated resource management for cities, particularly in Africa. Resource flows in a city such as water, energy, and mobility will be analysed and optimized for sustainable urban development. Therefore, broader issues of urbanization that includes efficient management of resources and integrated management of infrastructure systems (e.g., water, transportation, energy) will be considered. The integrated approach will allow cities to address the interactions between urbanization, population growth, and other future change pressures including: climate change, deterioration of aging infrastructure systems, changes in public behaviours, and economic changes
Why: Currently cities or towns are home to nearly half of the world’s population of 7 billion people (UN, 2011). Urban populations are estimated to nearly double from the current 3.4 billion to 6.4 billion by 2050. Between 2005 and 2010, for example, Africa experienced the highest urban growth rate in the world (3.3% annual average) and the pace is expected to remain the same over the next 15 years. It is predicted that about 90% of the urban expansion in the coming decades will take place in the low-income countries (UN-Habitat, 2008). This growth is expected to increase the number of slum dwellers significantly. It is projected that in the next 30 years, the global number of slum dwellers will increase to about 2 billion, if no firm action is taken (UN-Habitat, 2008)
One of the pressing problems associated with urbanization and urban resource management is the provision of basic urban services. Almost a billion poor people live in urban areas in the world without adequate shelters and basic services. In Africa, only 36% of the population has even marginal sanitation coverage and 240 million people are undernourished. Access to energy has improved, but supplies are irregular and unpredictable. On the other hand, it is predicted that by 2020 more than 50% of the middle class population will live in Africa and Asia.
Hence, Africa and Asia could account for over 40% of the global middle class consumption (OECD, 2011; World Bank, 2008). The rising living standards will lead to significant increases in demand for urban services and massive increases in the rate of waste generation including the rate of emissions and pollutants. In addition, cities are facing a range of other dynamic regional and global change pressures including climate change, deterioration of infrastructure systems, which will exacerbate these problems while reducing available resources.
The urban development challenges facing Africa in particular require that we reimagine urban development and take these challenges as opportunities for innovative technological and social change. For example, creating sustainable urban forms that facilitate closing the urban water and nutrient loop and allow cascading water use can produce fertilizer for urban agriculture, low-emission sustainable energy sources, recycled water for both agricultural and urban growth, as well as improve public health and reduce infant mortality due to water-borne disease. An integrated systems approach that combines regulation with entrepreneurial action can revolutionize urban development in Africa. The Hub will, therefore, develop a suite of tools that will allow designing urban forms and associated infrastructure and governance systems that are technologically and socially adaptable to local conditions and demands
Who: In the spirit of HPUI, this Hub will attempt to respond to the challenges of today's rapid urbanization by being a centre of excellence on urban resource management that will involve PCGS expertise in the areas of urban sustainability and through strategic collaboration with partners. Led by PCGS, it is anticipated that the Hub will bring together partners such as the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway, Universityof Nottingham, UK, Gothenburg University, Sweden University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), USA, University of Madras, India, CEPT University, India, University of Auckland, New Zealand, Makerere University, Uganda, Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering (2ie) Burkina Faso and University of Biskra, Algeria. The Hub will work closely with UN-Habitat’s Research and Capacity Development Branch to promote and coordinate research, policy advice and education in the field of sustainable urban development. Indeed, the Hub will engage with experts working in sustainable urban development on different scales and in different regions through teaching, research and improving the accessibility of knowledge to and from the wider community. For a list of proposed partnerships and connected projects, see point 5 below and point 2 in part C.
How: The Hub will involve expertise from different universities in several areas of sustainable urban planning and integrated urban resource management to address the aforementioned objectives. The Hub will facilitate and coordinate discussions on the opportunities and challenges for universities in advancing sustainable urban development through teaching, research and fieldwork, and bridging research, policy and implementation gaps. For example, the Hub is planning to organize an UN-Habitat Summer Research School in 2014 on the topic of “Urban Futures” hosted by one of the African partner institutions. The participating students from all partner institutions will work on joint student research projects in the area of integrated urban resource management. Furthermore, the Hub partners work on establishing a repository of graduate online courses which could be studied by students from all participating institutions. Possible courses to include in the repository are: GIS (Georgia Tech), economic evaluation techniques (University of Nottingham), energy efficient buildings (University of Nottingham), building design for hot climate (University of Biskra), systems thinking (PCGS), financing sustainability (PCGS), communicating the value of sustainability (PCGS) etc. In addition best practice case studies on integrated urban resource management will be collected in an open access project repository. Another planned activity is a short course on Integrated Urban Water Management which will be developed by the Hub in partnership with the Global Water Partnership GWP, the Water Research Commission South Africa, ICLEI and the World Bank Institute. PCGS will also develop an “Africa Water Atlas” representing the potential for Integrated Urban Water Management in African cities. These activities are complemented by a series of short technical and policy briefs that quickly inform the reader (in particular UN-Habitat branches) about key issues relating to integrated urban resource management. Building on the position papers the Hub is planning to develop some UN- Habitat guidelines which will help cities around the world with a transition to a new sustainable resource management paradigm.
GENDER - Habitat UniversitiesThematicHub
Hosted by: National University of Cordoba, Argentina
Hub Coordinator: Ana Falú: email@example.com
What: The thematic hub on ‘Gender’ provides a platform forthe documentation, analysis, definition and promotion of a global agenda on gender equality and women’s rights to the city. “The gender equality action plan aims to promote women’s rights, women’s empowerment and gender responsive sustainable urbanization policies and practices at the national and local levels. With its goal of reducing gender discrimination and promoting equal opportunities and outcomes for women and men in the provision of adequate services, security and employment opportunities in cities, the plan strives to create an environment for Governments, cities and local authorities to fulfil existing policy commitments related to gender equality in sustainable urbanization.” The Gender Hub will focus research on the following issues:
- Advocacy and gender mainstreaming
- Urban Planning
- Women’s rights to the city
- Land and Housing
- Urban Services
- Everyday life quality and Time
Why: “Gender issues affecting housing and urban development:
Women own less of the world’s private land than men, as little as 2% according to some estimates.
A woman’s right to land and housing is often linked to marital property and inheritance rights, and subject to cultural and traditional practices.
Poor urban design choices, such as poor street lighting and secluded underground walkways can make women more at risk of violence and sexual attacks in public spaces.
Girls in many areas of informal settlements fail to attend school, particularly after the onset of puberty, when separate toilet facilities for boys and girls are not available.
Women and girls are most often tasked with collecting water, and in informal settlements sharing a water supply with more than 200 households is not unusual, making water collection a laborious and time-consuming task that can impede education and employment.
Even though women have more opportunities for work in urban areas, they still typically earn less than men, partly because they are concentrated in low-paying jobs and sometimes because they are paid less for the same work”.
Who: The Gender Hub will provide a network of academics and professionals that can linked and share their practices and experiences about gender urban planning and women’s rights to the city in order to create and promote a global agenda on gender and urbanization issues.
The proposal is to strength linkages from the UN Habitat international capacities and the university representatives to be part of the core group. The Hub will be closely connected with other related UNI thematic Hubs as Urban Government, Urban Futures, among other; and with others UN-Habitat and UN Programmes.
The Hub will be closely connected to AGGI, the Advisor Group for Gender issues created by the ED of UN Habitat. The Hub will work closely with the Gender Unit of UN Habitat.
How: The Hub will serve as a platform for academic exchange and collaboration on topics related to gender equality and women’s right to the city.The Hub will grow over time in response to the discussions generated by exchange between members. A phased development approach is proposed as a means to guide this development. Phase 1: Academic Exchangeto facilitate member exchange and discussion through annual conferences. Phase 2: Coordinated Research to use coordinated research initiatives in investigating research questions identified by member institutions and UN-Habitat in phase one. Phase 3: Academic & Professional Collaboration progressing to collaboration between academic institutions and UN-Habitat and other partner institutions on relevant projects.
For more information read the Concept Note; Hub - Gender
To engage in the Hub, contact the Hub Coordinator: Ana Falú: firstname.lastname@example.org