Global urbanisation in the 21st century presents a range of challenges:
- The geography of many cities is characterised by inequality, segregation and fragmentation, with concentrations of poverty and wealth existing in close proximity to one another.
- Accessing affordable, decent, secure shelter is increasingly difficult as urban land and housing become targets for speculative activities. In the global South, an estimated 3 billion people will be living in informal settlements by 2050. Meanwhile in the global North, austerity policies are exacerbating homelessness and housing insecurity.
- Infrastructure and service delivery systems in many cities in developing countries are incomplete. There is an urgent need to develop accessible, sustainable and affordable energy, water and sanitation systems.
- Decent employment is a challenge for city dwellers in the context of changing patterns of work and continuing casualization within labour markets. Many rely on informal employment in order to make a living and lack the basic protections and benefits associated with formal sector work.
- Many urban residents live in smaller towns with close connections to rural livelihoods. There is a need to understand changing patterns of migration and the flow of goods and services between urban, peri-urban and rural areas.
- Climate change is already having a profound impact on cities, and in most cases its impacts disproportionately impact low-income residents. Urban processes will increasingly be influenced by climate change, and cities must simultaneously seek to mitigate climate change while adapting to its most immediate impacts.
How we are addressing it:
The Urban Futures group seek to understand and address these challenges through engaged research and practice. Research themes include:
- Addressing urban inequalities and making cities more inclusive
- Exploring innovative solutions to the global housing crisis
- Enabling city dwellers to make a decent living
- Widening access to public and green space, infrastructure and public transport for all city dwellers
- Co-producing knowledge with urban communities and social movements
This group seeks to better understand urban transformation and the complex challenges facing cities in developing countries.
This research project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, looks at how community involvement in urban development can help achieve inclusive cities.
Nicola Banks' research into the economic and social needs of young people in Tanzania.
This project explores how transnational flows of finance and people are shaping urban transformations in Accra, the capital of Ghana.
Seth Schindler's project is a Newton Advanced Fellowship
This is the first large-scale multi-site comparative research project focused on deindustrialisation in cities the Global South.
Diana Mitlin's project aims to support the fund's development through the analysis of secondary data.
Our teaching agenda:
- Global Urban Development and Planning MSc
- Research Methods with International Development MSc
- Development Policy and Management PhD
People and publications:
Click on the names below to read their latest publications or read the latest publications from the Global Development Institute.
- Dr Nicola Banks - Lecturer, International Development: Urban Development and Global Urbanism
- Dr Tom Gillespie - Lecturer, Poverty, Inequality & Pro-Poor Politics
- Prof David Hulme - Professor, Development Studies
- Prof Diana Mitlin - Professor, Global Urbanism, Director of Global Urban Research Centre
- Dr Johan Oldekop - Senior Lecturer in Environment and Development
- Dr Seth Schindler - Senior Lecturer, Urban Development and Urban Transformation
There are several non-GDI colleagues who are also involved in the Urban Futures research group
- Dr Alfredo Stein - Lecturer in Urban Development Planning
- Dr Leandro Minuchin - Senior Lecturer in Architecture and Global Urbanism
- Mohd Helmi Abu Yahya - Homelessness and the Political Agenda in Southeast Asia: The Case Study of Malaysia
News and insights:
Research project archive
Institutions for urban poor’s access to ecosystem services
A comparison of green and water structures in Bangladesh and Tanzania.
Urban climate resilience
Joanne Jordan's research into the implications of land tenure for responding to climate change in Dhaka