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Reconceptualising and responding to urban crises: Researcher-practitioner reflections on innovation, culture and transformative urban practices


8 February, 2020
World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi

This roundtable will be a forum for discussion, reflection and knowledge sharing between researchers and practitioners engaging in challenged cities. We seek a transdisciplinary interface between international urban stakeholders across research, practice and policy to explore innovative approaches to addressing urban challenges. These challenges include migration, humanitarian emergencies, insecurity, and infrastructural and institutional breakdown that threaten sustainable urban development. A conceptual introduction will frame the session, followed by three expositions of practices from Colombia, Lebanon, Jordan and India revealing innovative ways that urban stakeholders contend with and work through urban challenges. We conclude with practitioner-researcher dialogues in a roundtable.

The session activates researchers, practitioners and partners associated with two international transdisciplinary research projects concerned with vulnerable populations and cities in crisis: ‘DWELL: Displacement, Placemaking and Wellbeing in the City’ (India, UK, Finland, Norway) and ‘Learning Flexibility’ (Norway, Columbia).

The event seeks to extend discussions on the role of local agency, knowledge and innovative practice in cities that face development challenges and highlight how knowledge and practice exchange can stimulate sustainable urban development. As the WUF10 concept note outlines, ‘The city with its concentration of people, ideas, and resources serves as a catalyst to initiate and sustain innovation’, this session gives a platform to show how novel local knowledge and practice can be seen as a source of cultural capital to overcome urban challenges.
Recognising the complementary but often disconnected work among researchers and practitioners on the ways that cities and citizens contend with crises in cities, this session seeks to deepen discussions between urban stakeholders to:

  • connect and contextualise concepts of what constitutes urban crisis
  • highlight new, innovative practices emerging from cities facing development challenges and
  • foster exchanges between local and international urban stakeholders about novel and transferable practices to contend with urban crises that also respect the local cultural contexts in both original and adopter contexts.

The Roundtable will take place at the UN-Habitat’s World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi, UAE, 8–13 February 2020.