The Bartlett Development Planning Unit

Prof Julio D Davila

Prof Julio D Davila

Professor of Urban Policy and International Development

Development Planning Unit

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
1st Oct 2000

Research summary

My research examines the role of city governments in progressive social and political transformation; governance dimensions of urban and peri-urban infrastructure (transport, water & sanitation); planning and urban informality; and linkages between rapid urbanisation and health. I was recently involved in debates with scholars and practitioners on the urban impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, aimed at furthering applied policy research to this development challenge. This involved lecturing, an international survey and research on digital & physical connectivity arising from previous work: inter-disciplinary research on urban zoonotic diseases in Nairobi (Kenya); social and urban impacts of transport investments in Medellin and Barranquilla (Colombia), and Nigeria; and interactions between urban planning and health, as examined  in, among others, a co-authored Lancet article.  

For a complete list of publications see under 'Publications' below. My books include: 

Other selected publications:

Teaching summary

Julio runs DPU's Doctoral Seminar series for first-year MPhil/PhD students and teaches in the following UCL Master's modules:

DPU: 'Critical ideas of development: Conceptions and realities' and 'Industrialisation and infrastructure'

UCL Institute for Global Health: 'Urban health' 

Bartlett School of Planning: 'International case studies in transport planning'


University of London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1998
University College London
Other higher degree, Master of Science | 1984
University College London
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Postgraduate Diploma | 1983
Universidad de los Andes
First Degree, Bachelor of Science (Honours) | 1981


Julio D Dávila is Professor of Urban Policy and International Development at UCL. 

Twitter: @DavilaJulio 

A civil engineer and urban development planner with international experience in research and consultancy projects in 15 countries in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Prof. Dávila's research focuses on the role of local government in progressive social and political transformation in developing countries; the governance dimensions of urban and peri-urban infrastructure (transport, and water & sanitation); the intersection between planning and urban informality; and linkages between rapid urbanisation and health. 

Between September 2012 and August 2020 Prof. Dávila was the Director of The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL. He has taught at the London School of Economics and the University of Cape Town, and has lectured in several universities around the world. He has had advisory roles for institutions and projects including at Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Medellín campus), the British Academy, and Children Change Colombia (a UK-based charity). He has been a consultant to international organisations such as The World Bank, GIZ and DFID, among others. He has been interviewed by prestigious international media, such as The Economist, The New York Times, BBC and the Wall Street Journal, and appeared in a 2020 BBC documentary. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers (UK). 

Prior to UCL, he was a research fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) in London and Buenos Aires, under the leadership of the late Argentinian urbanist and historian, Dr Jorge E Hardoy. In 1988 at IIED he co-founded the journal Environment & Urbanization (Sage), one of the most influential and widely quoted international journals in the urban field. 

As a young graduate civil engineer in his native Colombia, he worked as a planner and researcher at the National Planning Agency (Departamento Nacional de Planeación), where he contributed his knowledge on self-help housing in Bogotá to the country’s first National Housing Plan. 

You can listen to Julio in a Wall Street Journal video discussing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on urban transport, commenting on the impact of Medellin's aerial cable-car lines on low-income populations, and in dialogue with DPU colleagues in a podcast sharing DPU's research on urban mobility as part of the 'Thinking Cities: Debating just development in the Global South' series.