Focus on Urban Futures

The USF Patel College of Global Sustainability will host a UN-Habitat forum to examine solutions to developing healthy communities.


By Vickie Chachere

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (May 6, 2013) – The University of South Florida’s Patel College of Global Sustainability will host delegates from 23 nations for the UN-Habitat Partner University Initiative, a worldwide effort to cope with the challenges of rapid urbanization and to develop new solutions for healthy, livable and resilient cities particularly in the developing world.


The Patel College of Global Sustainability has signed on as the first North American university representative in the research and strategy partnership with UN-Habitat. Researchers will collaborate on translating new research and innovation projects into action in cities around the world straining to manage water, food and energy as their populations boom. As part of the partnership, the Patel College established the Urban Futures research hub to promote education, professional development and policy advice to cities in low and middle income countries.


“The urban challenges we face today are global in nature and therefore require global solutions,” said Kala Vairavamoorthy, dean of the Patel College. “We need to build partnerships across the globe with other premier institutions in order to tackle some of these challenges that burden urban communities. It’s an honor to work with UN-Habitat on this endeavor and we are thrilled to be hosting the UN-Habitat Partner University Initiative Global Meeting at USF.”


In the meeting, researchers will tackle such crucial issues as climate change, food security and urban governance and the challenges facing growing cities in managing and protecting vulnerable resources. The effort is designed for universities, such as USF, who have focused research efforts on urban sustainability to become active partners for struggling cities.


Subhro Guhathakurta, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of City and Regional Planning and director for the Center for Geographic Information Systems, will offer the event’s keynote address at 9 a.m. on Friday, May 10. Guhathakurta’s research has focused on overcrowding, natural hazards, deteriorating infrastructure, environmental health, and financial issues facing global cities.


His presentation will be immediately followed by a talk by USF College of Engineering Professor and Carnegie/CASE Professor of the Year Autar Kaw, a global pioneer in using technology and social media to teach engineering mathematics to tens of thousands of college students all over the world.


Continuing through Saturday and Sunday, May 11-12, the delegates will be introduced to research and analytical tools developed to enable the effort to translate research and innovation into action in vulnerable cities. The event will also provide a forum for universities to begin collaborating on both on-going and new projects.


At 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Yamina  Djacta, director of UN-Habitat New York, will deliver a presentation on Habitat III and the post Millennium Development Goals.


The Partner University Initiative is comprised of 136 institutions and 1,200 individual members. The UN-Habitat Partner University Initiative held its first global meeting in London in 2011 at the University of Westminster, where its charter and initial agenda was defined.


For more information on UN-Habitat Partner University Initiative, including reports and presentations, click here.


Vickie Chachere can be reached at 813-974-6251.