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Lessons learned from Habitat I, II towards Habitat III – Han (Henricus) VERSCHURE, University of Leuven (KULeuven)

By on September 21, 2016
Lecturer - profile

Han (Henricus) VERSCHURE

Professor Emeritus with assignment

Main affiliation
University of Leuven (KULeuven)



European Union


Han Verschure is professor emeritus with special assignments, at the K.U.Leuven, Post Graduate Centre Human Settlements (PGCHS), Department of Architecture, Urbanism and Spatial Planning. His specialities are training and capacity building, policymaking, research, and development and follow-up of projects in the domains of habitat, sustainable urban and rural settlement development, urban renewal and heritage conservation, spatial and environmental planning, particularly but not exclusively, in developing countries, more specifically in North-, East- and Southern Africa, the Caribbean and Latin-America, South- and South-East Asia.
Han Verschure was for many years programme director of the international course programme ‘Master of Architecture in Human Settlements’ (1985-2007), and guest Professor at the Brussels University teaching “Environmental Planning and Policy”.

He has initiated and guided many development cooperation programmes for the Belgian Development Cooperation and for international agencies. He co-directed with UNHABITAT the mid-career professional training programme “Housing in Development” as well as the major programme ‘Localising Agenda 21: Strategic Planning for Sustainable Development’, in cooperation with UN-HABITAT, Nairobi and active in Kenya, Morocco, Vietnam, Cuba etc. He participated in all UNHABITAT Conferences since Vancouver 1976, Istanbul 1996, and in almost all World Urban Fora, and he is also expert advising in the preparation for HABITAT III in Quito October 2016. He was co-organiser or advisor in several EU projects among others MED-Campus, MED-Urbs, ASIA-Link, ASIA- Urbs, ALFA (Latin America).

Among other memberships he was chairing the working group on International Cooperation and Sustainable Development of the Belgian Federal Council for Sustainable Development, the Platform Local Agenda 21 of Leuven and chairman of the Network Sustainable Leuven. He was also a Belgian Advisor for the United Nations Commissions on Human Settlements and the UN Commission Sustainable Development and participated in the 2012 Rio+20. The last few years he was still active as strategic planning advisor among others in Haiti, Nepal, Kenya, Senegal, Vietnam, Tanzania, etc. Now still guest teaching in among others in the course “Human Settlements in Development” at KULeuven, in St Lukas(Gent-KULeuven), Architecture Hasselt (University of Hasselt), Vives-Howest Post graduate Noord-Zuid (Kortrijk) as well as in several developing countries (in 2015 in Thailand, Laos, Cambodja, Pakistan, Nepal, in Senegal, Tanzania, so far in 2016), and he is active as volunteer advisor to several development NGO’s. He is member of Leuven Klimaat Neutraal 2030 and and expert advisor to the Leuven Urban Planning Commission.

For presentation : Prof em. Han Verschure, Professor in Human Settlements, Spatial and Environmental planning, Expert advisor development cooperation programmes and cooperation with UN-Habitat.

English Proficiency

Previous experience of recording video lectures

Experience of lecturing to large audiences

Experience of lecturing to large audiences

Frequency of lectures
Very often

Recording opportunities
Habitat III attendance and availability
in Quito from 16th to 21st, not free on 16th and 17th (Parallel event) and on 19th (11.00 am – Side-event)


Main themes
Sustainable Cities
Slum Upgrading
Planning and Design
Capacity Development

Lessons learned from Habitat I, II towards Habitat III

What lessons can we learn from HABITAT I, II towards Habitat III : utopia versus reality (intentions, obstacles, perspectives)

Issues which the lecture addresses
The lecture is based on my evaluation of 40 years of work on Human Settlements issues, having participated in Habitat I, Habitat II, and in the preparation of Habitat III. I also particpated in most World Urban Fora

Short analysis of the above issues
As early as Habitat I, many good proposals and agreements were formulated to tackle the issues of what was then called “Exploding Cities” (video of UNHABITAT prepared shortly after 1976). Similarly during Habitat II again several good proposasl and agreements were formulated, including the application of the Agenda 21 to the HABITAT Agenda and the application to the Millenium Development Goals.

Propositions for addressing the issue
The gap between agreements and reality has remained large after each of the major HABITAT World Conferences. Propositions centre on

1)The increasing condraction between well intended strenghtening of Public Policies to meet challenges of Urbanization and the realities of a decrease of public policies involvement under increasing neo-liberal market forces

2)The contradiction between increasing willingness and demands from civil society and from local authorities to be involved in decisionmaking in making cities more sustainable, and the lreluctance of national authorities to effectuate devolution of powers and related budgets to the local levels.

3)The lack of specific monitoring and possibly sanctionning of those national, regional or local partners (both public and private) who substantially violate agreements approved during Habitat I and II and as part of the preparation of the New Urban Agenda.

Additional Reading Materials
“Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages” by Saskia Sassen
ISBN: 9780691136455, 512 pp.

“Ten essentials for the New Urban Agenda in one page”
Policy and planning Urban, David Satterthwaite and Cassidy Johnson Blogs, 19 July 2016 @Dsatterthwaite

“Shelter / Need and Response”, Jorge Hardoy and David Satterthwaite, John Wiley, 1981