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UCL collaboration making cities fairer receives Global Challenges Research Fund support

8 August 2017

Lima houses

Knowledge in Action for Urban Equality (KNOW) is an ambitious UCL research programme that will bring together a global network of urban specialists working together to deliver cities for all.

UCL The Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU) is at the forefront of a network of institutions across nine countries seeking to co-produce city-based research and foster partnerships of equivalence that will challenge the structural cause of inequality in contemporary cities.

KNOW is one of 37 interdisciplinary projects recently backed by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Research Councils UK Collective Fund.

It focuses on three challenges: delivering prosperity, tackling extreme poverty and building resilient cities.

Promoting global urban equality

UCL DPU Professor and Vice-Dean International Caren Levy will lead a consortium of researchers based at UCL, University of Durham, the Indian Institute of Human Settlements (India), Ardhi University (Tanzania) and FLACSO (Latin-American Social Sciences Institute, Costa Rica) to deliver transformative research and capacity for innovation in policy and planning that will promote urban equality.

The team will work with local academic and community-based partners in Sierra Leone, Uganda, Tanzania, Cuba, Peru, Costa Rica, Colombia, India and Sri Lanka.

With a budget of over £7 million, KNOW will run to the end of 2021, creating a network of Urban Learning Hubs that will continue the work beyond the end of the project. 

Increasing resilience

KNOW partners have received the project with enthusiasm and commitment to deliver exciting and ground-breaking research.

Professor Levy said: “Achieving urban equality has become one of the key challenges of our time, as acknowledged in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. At a time when more than half of the global population lives in urban areas and the poorest people are the most affected by the global economic and environmental crises, reducing urban inequality will increase the prosperity and resilience of future cities in the global south.”

Professor Wilbard Kombe, an internationally recognised urban researcher based at Ardhi University, Dar es Salaam, added: “Our major role as local partners is to critically reflect on the transformations taking place in peri-urban areas with a view to explore alternative policy implications, as well as theoretical explanations. We will fully build on and work with the local networks we have engendered over years.”

Aromar Revi, Director of the Indian Institute of Human Settlements, highlighted KNOW’s emphasis on education and capacity building: “Jaipur is a remarkable historical city of three million people that faces many of the current challenges that Indian cities try to address. Through this project we aim to understand what research capacity exists within the local environment, both inside and outside government, and then help build this capacity by facilitating life long learning processes that will be initiated by this project.”

The GCRF is a £1.5 billion research programme and forms part of the UK Government’s Official Development Assistance commitment of contributing 0.7% of GDP to international aid.

Launched in 2016, the fund aims to ensure that UK research plays a leading role in addressing the global issues faced by developing countries.