UN Habitat University – Lecture Series

urban-lectures 4-01-199x2231The Global Urban Lectures were launched in April 2014 as part of UNI’s mission to support the exchange of ideas between urban professionals, academics and experts worldwide.

Season 2 of the series, following the success of the first season, continues with 8 new speakers associated with UN-Habitat’s work, recruited from universities, think-tanks, governments, NGO’s, and private sector institutions.  Each lecture package is free, includes a 15 min video, synopsis of the topic, biography of the speaker and links to in-depth studies.

The new series speakers are:

  1. Clarissa Augustinus, UN Habitat
    This lecture addresses Global Land Challenges’ aims to introduce the land challenges facing the planet, and some of the solutions for creating sustainable cities associated to the land issue.
  2. Michael Cohen, The New School
    This lecture illustrates data about economic growth that demonstrate how cities act as engines of national economic development.
  3. Robert Buckley, Senior Fellow, The New School
    This lecture is based on the realization that little attention is being paid to the inexorable increase in urban populations, particularly in very low income countries. Buckley argues that industrial coordination problems are no doubt important, but so too is the avoidance of increasingly dysfunctional cities.
  4. Jane Weru, Executive Director, Akiba Mashinani Trust
    “Too Pressed To Wait” discusses the water and sanitation hygiene systems in informal settlements in Nairobi, and how they are causing a strain on both the physical and psychological health of people who live and work in these settlements, in particular women and girls.
  5. Dr. Juan Clos,Executive Director, UN Habitat
    Dr Clos discusses planned versus spontaneous urbanization, the issues this entails and three concrete principles for planning sustainable cities. Together they form a three-legged approach to sustainable urbanization.
  6. Chris Jefferies, Urban Drainage Expert
    Chris Jefferies addresses the need to reduce the impact of city development of flooding on residents and in other places, and the worsening of the water quality in streams, rivers and lakes caused by the expansion of cities.
  7. Peter Ward, University of Texas at Austin
    In ‘Densification in consolidated informal settlements’ Peter Ward presents data drawn from a nine-country/eleven city collaborative study that examines self-built housing in old established low-income neighborhoods formed 25-40 years ago.
  8. Marja Hoek-Smit, Wharton School of Business, University of PennsylvaniaIn this lecture Marja Hoek Smit argues that housing finance is critical to solve the housing problem, increasing, as it does, the number of households that can afford to acquire a house in the formal market, which in turn will make large scale development of middle and lower middle income housing possible.
All the materials are open to use for academic, professional or personal purposes. Download the full pdf with all synopses, biographies and links here. The courses can be used:
  1. For self-learning and as a refresher course.
  2. As addition to existing curricula and regular courses offered by universities and training institutions (eg. using the videos as ‘guest lecturers’ or teasers in the syllabus of regular courses)
  3. As resource materials for new curricula and course development.
  4. To screen in public events as introduction to debates on subjects relevant to cities and urban development

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The Global Urban Lectures are produced by Habitat UNI, UN-Habitat’s partnership with universities worldwide. For feedback, questions and suggestions, contact UNI@unhabitat.org, cc: asa.isacson@unhabitat.org


  • research type

    • Interviews
    • Tools and Data
  • Topics

    • Community Development
    • Economic Development
    • Geography
    • Housing
    • Infrastructure
    • Resiliency
    • Sustainability
    • Urban Form