Dhaka. Credit: MD FAYSAL AHMED

Happy Urban October – Applications Open for Sustainable Cities Small Grants Fund

SHLC celebrates UN Habitat’s ‘Urban October’ and launches next round of Capacity Development Acceleration Fund and Visiting Research Fellowship.

The number of people living in our towns and cities across the world continues to rise every day. By 2050, the United Nations estimates that 3 billion more people will be added to our urban population.

This scale of urbanisation provides a positive opportunity for economic growth and social change, but alongside this rapid growth our cities also face major demographic, environmental, economic, social and spatial challenges.

As we celebrate UN Habitat’s ‘Urban October’, the Centre for Sustainable Healthy and Learning Cities (SHLC) is working to respond to urban challenges across fast-growing cities in Africa and Asia.

And, we want you to join us! Applications are now open for SHLC’s Capacity Development Acceleration Fund and Visiting Research Fellowship.

What is the fund?

The SHLC small grants fund supports a visiting research fellowship programme, as well as pilot research, knowledge mobilisation and research management projects, to help tackle urban, health and education challenges in neighbourhoods across fast-growing cities in developing countries.

Who can apply?

The fund is open to individuals and organisations exploring and responding to urban, health and education challenges within cities across ODA (Official Development Assistance) eligible developing countries.

Applications lead by Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC) are particularly encouraged to apply.

What costs will be covered?

The fund is intended to support small-scale projects and activities such as a travel, transcription to support interviews and focus groups as well we venue hire and catering to support workshops and events. The fund does not cover staff costs, salary or studentships.

Our Capacity Development Acceleration Fund is supported by our project funding, which is delivered by the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund, therefore all activities must be ODA-eligible. Visit the OECD for more information about ODA eligible countries, including definition and coverage.

Apply now

Responding to urban challenges is not just about supporting sustainable cities, but can also be a vital interlocutor for delivering all of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Apply to our fund, collaborate with us, and help us ensure that cities are sustainable for all.

Throughout ‘Urban October‘ SHLC will be releasing new research, photo stories, blogs and more. Sign-up to our newsletter, follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date and find out more.

River bank, Khulna, Bangladesh. Credit: Irfan Shakil, Khulna University

Photography Exhibition: Picture This - Living in the World’s Largest Cities

Photography Exhibition: Picture This - Living in the World’s Largest Cities

  • 2 - 9 November 2019

  • Milk Café, 452 Victoria Rd, Glasgow G42 8YU

What is it like to live in one of the world’s largest and fastest growing cities? What might a person living in Govanhill, Glasgow, have in common with a person living in Daryaganj, Delhi?

This photography exhibition at the Milk Café, a social enterprise in the Southside of Glasgow, showcases a collection of images taken by our international research team and tells the everyday stories of life in the world’s largest cities.

Come along to our launch night, enjoy some fabulous food and get lost travelling through neighbourhoods around the world.

Can’t make it to our launch night? Feel free to visit the café any time during the week, have a coffee and enjoy exploring!

This event is part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s 2019 Festival of Social Science.

Local Farmers Market at Burigangga River, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Credit: Hanafi Latif

Guest Lecture - The Future of Sustainable Neighbourhoods

Guest Lecture - The Future of Sustainable Neighbourhoods

In this guest lecture Josef Konvitz, Honorary Professor at the University of Glasgow and former Head, Urban Affairs and Regulatory Policy Divisions at OECD, explored how sustainable neighbourhoods might help cities respond to challenges of globalisation and widening inequality.

You can listen to his presentation by clicking on the link in the blue box above.

Globalisation has spurred urban development around the world, and has helped billions of people to move out of poverty. Trade, it turns out, is more important than we thought when trying to explain economic performance and social outcomes, but the subject is more complicated when some cities specialize in the service sector, and others in manufacturing.

Globalisation is also blamed for widening inequality which is fueling populism and protectionism. These political trends, which reflect regional disparities within countries, are jeopardizing the gains realized worldwide in terms of better incomes, better education, better health, and will make sustainability and the challenge of climate change, particularly in urban areas, much more difficult to address.

In his guest lecture, Professor Konvitz explored three important areas:

  1. Place-based design (or place-making) with attention to housing and the environment, and education, often come to the top of the list of policy options. Why? How can place-based design support sustainable neighbourhoods?
  2. The OECD, the UN, the World Bank have all promoted multi-level governance, cross-sectoral policy integration, and cross-generational participation for over 25 years. But, the mix of top-down and bottom-up initiatives has proven difficult to get right. What can we learn from our mistakes?
  3. The guest lecture will conclude with a look ahead to the impact of climate change at neighborhood level, and asks: can the climate change agenda create more political traction for the support and design of sustainable neighborhoods?

Women Sanitation Workers India. Credit: Nilanjana Bhattacharjee.

Guest Lecture: Bodies of Accumulation – Learning from a Participatory Action Research on Women Sanitation Workers in India’s Cities

Guest Lecture: Bodies of Accumulation – Learning from a Participatory Action Research on Women Sanitation Workers in India’s cities

In this guest lecture, co-hosted by SHLC and Centre for Research & Development in Adult and Lifelong Learning (CR&DALL), Nilanjana Bhattacharjee presented a Participatory Action Research conducted by Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), New Delhi on the lived experiences of women sanitation workers in the informal settlements of Jhansi (Uttar Pradesh), Ajmer (Rajasthan) and Muzaffarpur (Bihar) in India.

You can download the presentation by clicking on the blue box above.

‘Dalit Women Sanitation Workers’ exhibit the intersections of caste, class and gender of the most vulnerable identity group in India. These women who work as sanitation workers suffer the harshest brunt of patriarchy and casteism in the largest democracy of the world

The lecture gives an insight into the design of the study, the methods and associated hurdles, the different findings and the nuances of subject positionality experienced by the researcher herself.  The lecture also briefly tells the tale of how urban development and storytelling meet to advocate for policies as well as social change.

Indian schoolgirls choose souvenirs on the street, New Delhi, India.

APPLY NOW: Research Associate - Education and International Development

The GCRF Centre for Sustainable Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC) is looking for a new Research Associate focussing on education and international development to join our international team.

Are you interested in education and international development? We need you!

SHLC’s Research Associate – Education and International Development will be based at the University of Glasgow and will join an international team of 50 experts from a range of disciplines and countries including Bangladesh, India, China, the Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania.

APPLY BY 5 SEPTEMBER – http://bit.ly/SHLCjobsEducation

Job Purpose

To make a leading research and knowledge exchange contribution to the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC), an international research consortium, which aims to strengthen capacity to address urban, health and education challenges in fast-growing cities across Africa and Asia. Case study countries are: South Africa, Rwanda, Tanzania, India, Bangladesh, China and the Philippines.

Specifically, the job requires expert knowledge in the area of education in relation to Africa and/or Asia. Candidates with a strong interest in education in urban settings are particularly encouraged to apply. Within the SHLC, education is interpreted broadly to include schooling and other formal education, non-formal and adult education, and ‘learning cities’. Applicants with expertise in any of these are welcome.

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about the role, please do not hesitate to contact the SHLC project team at: shlc-info@glasgow.ac.uk.

SHLC is funded via UK Research and Innovation as part of the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund.

Busy market streets with colorful houses, buildings and crowds of people, rickshaws near Jama Masjid in Old part of New Delhi, India

‘Grow, Sow, Reap’: Training India’s Future Urban Leaders

This summer 32 urban researchers from all across India came together as part of a week-long intensive workshop to bridge the gap between urban theory and practice and help India in its quest to make cities more liveable, sustainable and smart.

India’s changing urban landscape is becoming increasingly unequal. Are urban researchers ready to respond? Critics often question whether the country has urban academics, planners and designers primed with suitable skills, knowledge and experience to handle the complex and dynamic challenges of its growing cities.

This training workshop, co-hosted by the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) and, Jawaharlal Nehru University was designed with the sole aim of responding to critics and making sure India’s urban academia can respond, yes, our country has sound theoretical and practical expertise to support sustainable, smart and healthy cities.

Professor Debolina Kundu, Professor,  NIUA, said:

“Continuous skill building based on lived realities of Indian city expansion will yield big dividends when it comes to the development of well-informed urban development policies. Too often urban curricula is sporadic in its attempt to build skills beyond urban theory and therefore our graduates are simply not prepared to tackle everyday urban challenges. By nuturing practical and policy relevant skills of our early career researchers now, India’s urban policy and practitioners will reap the benefit of a highly knowledgeable and holistic urban workforce ready to tackle growing urban challenges.”

Vasundhara Rohtak, an early career researcher from Maharishi Dayanand University, said:

“I really enjoyed my time at the workshop. Not only did I grow and learn from my fellow attendees, I got the chance to learn from well-respected practitioners and scholars with different backgrounds and knowledge of what it is like to work in urban planning and policy. I have a lot to learn, but I now feel a lot more confident that the skills and knowledge I am growing will help me to build on my knowledge academic theory and put urban theory in practice.”

Capacity-strengthening workshop, Delhi, India.
Capacity-strengthening workshop, Delhi, India. Image credit: NIUA.

Workshop attendees had the opportunity to attend a wide variety of sessions, including migration and labour mobility, climate resilience, blockchain and trust in smart cities, urban land management, infrastructure financing   as well as ‘softer’, but just as important, skills based training around conflict management and negotiation skills.

Suvamoy Pramanik an early career researcher from CSRD, Jawaharlal Nehru University, said:

“The workshop attempted to touch on almost all related realms of the urban sector which was really wonderful. The experts invited  were a balance  mix of Academicians and Practitioners and were extremely knowledgeable”

Sidd Pankaj Joshi, an early career researcher from CRDF, CEPT University, said:

“The sessions like ‘New Urban Agenda’ and ‘National Policy Framework’ were very important . All the other sessions were very interactive and covered multi-dimensional aspects of contemporary urban issues”

This research project ‘Capacity Building Workshop for Early Career Researchers on issues and challenges of Urban Sector’ was funded by the Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC)’s Capacity Development Acceleration Fund. SHLC is funded via UK Research and Innovation as part of the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund.

University of Glasgow.

Enhancing Urban Research - SHLC Welcomes Khulna University to Glasgow

SHLC’s team at the University of Glasgow were thrilled to host Vice-Chancellor Professor Mohammad Fayek Uzzaman, Professor Shamim Mahabubul Haque and Dr Shilpi Roy from our partner institute, Khulna University.

Responding to rapid and uneven urbanisation requires strengthening urban research so that effective policies and practices can help build sustainable cities. With a limited number of national urban research institutes in place, universities are often the incubators for crosscutting urban studies in Bangladesh. Khulna University visited the University of Glasgow to share their experiences and to learn from each other how to improve a supportive and collaborative urban research environment.

The team from Khulna University spent two days at the University of Glasgow and met with academics and staff from across the organisation, including Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, business development teams and SHLC researchers, to discuss a variety of topics from research support to international collaborations and urban resilience.

Welcoming colleagues from Khulna University, SHLC’s Principle Investigator Professor Ya Ping Wang said:

“At SHLC, collaboration and partnership lie at the heart of our research. We aim to connect academic experts from many different developing counties and regions around the world to share knowledge, work together and understand fast-growing cities from the inside out. Through our collaboration with Khulna University, our international research team are benefiting greatly by learning about the diversity of Bangladesh’s neighbourhoods as well as learning about innovative methodological and analytical approaches from their highly-skilled research team.”

Khulna University team with Professor Ya Ping Wang and Principal and Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli.
Khulna University team with Professor Ya Ping Wang and Principal and Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli.

The team from Khulna University also toured the School of Engineering’s innovative 5G test lab. Dr Faisal Tariq, Dr Yusuf Sambo and Dr Joao Pedro Battistella Nadas demonstrated how this innovative technology could be used in the aftermath of a natural disaster in hard-to-reach or dangerous places.

Dr Yusuf Sambo, University of Glasgow, demonstrating 5G communication technology. Image credit: Gail Wilson, University of Glasgow.
Dr Yusuf Sambo, University of Glasgow, demonstrating 5G communication technology. Image credit: Gail Wilson, University of Glasgow.

During their visit to Glasgow, Khulna University team delivered a public lecture showcasing the challenges and opportunities of doing urban research in Bangladesh. The team also presented forthcoming findings of the SHLC research at Khulna University that highlights the pattern and process of urban growth and structure and differentiation of neighbourhoods in Bangladesh’s cities.

SHLC’s CO- Investigator Dr Shilpi Roy said:

‘‘Building sustainable cities will require integrated development approach that promotes liveable, viable and equitable neighbourhoods and healthy living and learning environment in the cities. This fundamental consideration is inadequately reflected in the planning and development practices in Bangladesh. Large-scale international collaborative research like SHLC will offer invaluable neighbourhood level data and new findings to inform Bangladesh's future urban development.’’

Dr Shilpi Roy delivering a presentation at the University of Glasgow. Image Credit: Gail Wilson, University of Glasgow.
Dr Shilpi Roy delivering a presentation at the University of Glasgow. Image Credit: Gail Wilson, University of Glasgow.

Professor Mohammad Fayek Uzzaman added:

‘‘This visit created opportunities for Khulna University to co-learn about how universities in Bangladesh can create enabling research environment. Our visit will play a crucial role in fostering innovative ideas for researches in Khulna University.’’

‘Returning the Streets to its Rightful Owners’: Meeting Newly Elected Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso

Our research team in the Philippines recently met with the Manila’s new City Mayor, Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso, to discuss opportunities for the capital city of the Philippines to continue its journey towards becoming a sustainable, healthy, and learning city.

As SHLC’s research design and implementation in the Philippines centres on an ongoing collaboration with the City Planning and Development Office, with the active cooperation of other bureaus and offices of the Manila City Local Government, the meeting provided an excellent opportunity to give an update to the new Manila City Administration on the progress of the research over the past two years.

The City Mayor expressed his support to the efforts of the team, and shared with them some of his aspirations, ideas, and plans that are very much in line with the goals of the project. He stressed the importance of returning the streets to its rightful owners – the public – by making Manila City sustainable and giving the people access to open areas and green parks. He also shared his intention to lead by example by working at the grassroots level and making regular site visits to critical areas such as his recent inspection of Vitas Slaughterhouse, among others. Through his actions, Mayor Domagoso said that he aims to make Manila vibrant again, in the hope of bringing the city back to its old glory.

SHLC’s International Co-Investigator Dr Mario R. Delos Reyes from the University of the Philippines Diliman said:

“It was a pleasure to meet Manila’s new City Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso and share our ideas on how to support Manila in its journey to becoming a sustainable, healthy and learning city. We welcome his desire and aspiration to ensure the public and communities are at the heart of his policy efforts and are looking forward to continued collaboration with the City Mayor and his team."

SHLC Philippines research team meet Manila City Mayor and government officials.
SHLC Philippines research team meet Manila City Mayor and government officials.

During the meeting, which was held at the Manila City Hall on July 17, 2019, the research team presented an overview of the project to the new administration. The presentation emphasised the distinctiveness of SHLC’s approach compared to other studies on urbanisation by honing down to the neighbourhood level. A neighbourhood audit is currently underway using focus group discussions, neighbourhood visits, and walking interviews to capture the distinct characteristics and nuances of the various neighbourhoods that make up of the colourful City of Manila.

Atty. Mark Anthony M. Gamboa presents SHLC Philippines research to Manila City Mayor

The project team invited the City of Manila to partner with our wider research in the upcoming activities where research partners from Asia, Africa, and Europe will converge in Manila City for the Philippine leg of the project’s international partner meeting in February 2020. This event will be held simultaneously with the International Conference on Sustainable Living (ICSL) in Manila on February 19 to 20, 2020 with the theme “Towards Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods”.

In addition to the City Mayor, attendees present at the meeting included: International Co-Principal Investigator Dr. Mario R. Delos Reyes, In-country Co-Investigator Atty. Mark Anthony M. Gamboa, EnP, and members of the project team, Ryan Randle B. Rivera, EnP, and Keith Gerard L. Daguio, EnP. Also present were Ar. Danilo Victor H. Lacuna, EnP, Officer-In-Charge of the Manila City Planning and Development Office (CPDO), Ar. Joy Dawis-Asuncion, Executive Assistant on Special Projects, Ar. Marlou B. Campaner, EnP, Chief of the Urban Design Division of the Manila CPDO, and Ms. Sarah Labastilla-Bonzon, Chief of the Zoning Division of the Manila CPDO.

Edge of the city - Rupsa River Ghat, Khulna, Bangladesh. Credit: Irfan Shakil, Khulna University

4th Conference of Digital Belt and Road - Urban Sprawl in Bangladesh

4th Conference of Digital Belt and Road - Urban Sprawl in Bangladesh

At the 4th conference of Digital Belt and Road  (DBAR) network held in Shenzhen, China in December 2019, Professor Tanjil Sowgat from our Bangladesh team presented research findings highlighting the scale and extent of land cover changes in rapidly urbanising Bangladeshi cities as well as data challenges regarding inequality and segregation studies in South Asian countries.

DBAR is international scientific program for sustainable development of the countries along the silk route of China  and aims to bring together academics and professionals to influence future policy making in this region.

Download a copy of Professor Sowgat’s presentations in the links below.

Professor Sowgat delivered two presentations. The first  highlighted on the scale and extent of land cover changes in rapidly urbanising Bangladeshi cities. Research findings called for the promotion of migrant sensitive policies to best accommodate new migrants in the disaster affected areas and a new development control mechanism to protect agriculture and water bodies.

In his second presentation, Professor Sowgat focused on data challenges regarding inequality and segregation studies in South Asian countries and stressed the need for creating and sharing of data for better understanding the key development issues.

Our Bangladeshi team are now part of the DBAR research network, which aims to make effective contribution to bring changes to future sustainable policies in coastal regions. The benefits of this network are already coming to fruition.

The DBAR-COAST Co-Chair Professor Zhang Li expressed support to be involved in extending impact activities in different Chinese cities. As part of ongoing collaboration, Dr Bowei Chen, Assistant Professor at the Chinese Academy of Science has been awarded funding through our Capacity Development Acceleration Fund to collaborate with Khulna University on an urban research project exploring transformation of agricultural land and waterbodies in rapidly urbanising Bangladesh.

Guest Lecture: Strategic Green Infrastructure Planning in Response to Social & Ecological Challenges of Cities

Guest Lecture: Strategic Green Infrastructure Planning in Response to Social & Ecological Challenges of Cities

This talk is jointly hosted by the Glasgow Centre for International Development (GCID) and the Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods and presented by Dr. Wan-Yu Shih, introduces strategic green infrastructure research and associated planning implications for cities.

Findings from empirical research, particularly work undertaken in the context of Taipei City, are drawn on to illustrate the potential value and limitations of green infrastructure approaches in responding to social and environmental issues in cities. Green Infrastructure is a synthetic and evolving planning concept, which is rooted in theory and principles from nature conservation and green space planning.

It is increasingly recognised and valued in international environmental agendas, such as the European Union’s environmental policy and CitiesIPCC’s research and action agenda. Green infrastructure is viewed as a nature-based solution for city-regions to conserve biodiversity, adapt to climate change and improve human wellbeing and social equity.

This talk introduces wider issues about the interrelationship of green infrastructure with built environments (grey infrastructure), social vulnerability, and spatial inequality as well as the challenges to integrate this strategy into current planning systems in Taiwan to the audience.

Image sourse: Jean Francoeur, FLICKR


  • Dr Wan-Yu Shih – Assistant Professor, Ming-Chuan University, Taiwan

Dr Wan-Yu Shih is an Associate Professor in the Department of Urban Planning and Disaster Management at Ming-Chuan University, Taiwan. She holds a PhD in Planning and Landscape from the University of Manchester, UK.

Her research interests lie in the interdisciplinary nature of ecological/environmental planning and governance in cities. Recently she has focused on nature-based adaptation strategies for climate change, looking at multi-functionality of urban green infrastructure and its interrelation with land use change and socio-ecological characteristics.

Dr. Shih is motivated to inform decision makers for urban planning with scientific evidence through her work in Taiwan. At the same time, she constantly strives to develop international collaborative research and has established research activities in Taiwan, UK, Japan and Vietnam which are supported by prestigious institutes such as Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Japan), Ministry of Science and Technology (Taiwan), Royal Society of Edinburgh (UK), Wellcome Trust (UK), and Urban Europe and Belmont Forum: SUGI-FEW Nexus (International).