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UNI Action Plan

Following the Habitat III conference of October 2016 UNI initiated an action plan for it’s partners on the ‘How’ of working with the New Urban Agenda.

To this end, UNI specified an action plan for higher education, along with the tools for its implementation.

As the plan progresses, more reports on university activities will be available throughout the site along with specific lists of activities under ‘Universities and the New Urban Agenda’.

Thematic Scope

Capacity Development to support the implementation of the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goal 11 ‘to make cities and human settlements safe, inclusive, resilient and sustainable’.

Target Beneficiaries
Academic institutions: scholars, lecturers and undergraduates and post-graduate students; Government: senior government officials and technical cadre of local authorities/municipalities; Community: young practitioners, community leaders

Members of the UN-Habitat Partnership with universities worldwide (UNI) which currently consists of 198 institutional members and over 1600 individual members.

Programme Summary
The 3rd United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) concluded that collaboration amongst higher education institutions, cities, communities, and governments can achieve direct impact on the sustainability of cities. Universities occupy a key role in encouraging and building the foundation for sustainable urban development, as well as contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda. However, initiatives need to be adequately assessed and reported against agreed outcomes and indicators.

Habitat UNI, UN-Habitat’s partnership with universities worldwide, was introduced as a vehicle to promote, facilitate and consolidate such collaborative endeavours for sustainable urban development, aiming at the formation of a new generation of urban planners and managers. With the overall goal of strengthening the role of universities in their engagement with cities and communities, this programme will help improve the capacity of multiple actors from the public, private, academic and community sectors involved in urban management and planning, design and delivery of public services.

The UNI action plan aims at 4 fundamental goals:

 Supporting action research on key areas that strengthens the implementation of the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and the SDG11;

 Supporting the development of new curriculum, educational and learning products focusing on the implementation of NUA and SDG’s;

 Assisting universities to engage with city governments and urban communities in support to their actions to achieve sustainable urban development;

 Engaging universities in UN-Habitat research and flagship reporting and establishing a two-way collaborative process that tap in resources, knowledge, and expertise that can bring mutual benefits.

In addition to this, this program also aims at:

 Strengthening cooperation amongst various actors and promoting public debate on sustainable urbanization.

 Facilitating the articulation between urban practitioners and universities which can boost confidence and trust;

 Promoting the positive outcomes of partnerships among universities, cities, communities and governments and establish a best practice database for best performing universities in these fields. The strategy of the programme is to strengthen UN-Habitat’s role in linking the academic work led by universities with concrete and transformative projects on the territory of cities and local governments. Through knowledge and practice exchange and collaborative projects, UN-Habitat, universities and cities can jointly address the challenges of urbanization and promote sustainable urban development practices.


The programme has three components:

1. Produce the Global Urban Learning series which draws on the successful Global Urban Lectures series of UN-Habitat, referred to as one of the best MOOC-Massive Open Online Courses. These are the online lectures on various themes of sustainable urbanization delivered by renowned scholars and urban experts that has over 91,000 views, 3 seasons and 35 released lectures as per 1 March 2017. The new Series will combine open access knowledge with online learning tools to monitor learning impact;

2. Consolidate the existing UNI portal <www.uni.unhabitat.org> as a top-notch knowledge exchange platform that promotes innovative education, policy advice and professional development for sustainable urban development. This includes developing the mobile site, enhancing user’s interface, live discussion forums and maximize UNI members’ contributions to capacity development for the NUA and SDG11;

3. Create a project fund to support the establishment of the UN-Habitat Chairs in universities as a way to maximize the interface between operational and normative work of UNHabitat and the UNI members, particularly those engaged in concrete projects with cities and communities. The fund will be sustained by the UN-Habitat Chair’s yearly contribution of US$ 12,000. This annual contribution will enable UN-Habitat’s support to education and research carried out by the UN-Habitat Chairs in their universities as well as the maintenance and operation of the UNI portal and all the activities required to maintain the UN-Habitat partnership with universities through UNI. These entails knowledge management, the organization of a UNI annual award, the Global Urban Learning Series and international seminars.

UN-Habitat will assist in fund-raising those universities/faculties that wish to establish a UNHabitat Chair but do not have the resources to pay for their annual contribution.

UN-Habitat chairs will be individuals based at universities who will propose projects to be implemented in all or at least one of the categories below:

A. Enhanced Educational Capacities For Sustainable Urbanization. Improving research, teaching and knowledge exchange, development of new curricula in response to the needs of the NUA and SDG 11.

B. Projects to enhance University – City – Community Partnerships;

C. Capacity development. Enabling multiple actors from urban communities to develop the skills to plan and realize their development objectives in line with the Agenda 2030 (SDG 11) and NUA.

The UN-Habitat Chair will be entitled to the following:

 Use the UNI portal <uni.unhabitat.org> to disseminate the UN-Habitat Chair’s research and education activities and products, publications and other material;

 Organize international Expert Group Meetings, seminars and symposia as well as public lectures jointly with UN-Habitat;

 Showcase project results during UNI activities at World Urban Forums;

 Participate in biennial competition for the UN-Habitat University Award;

 Partner with UN-Habitat in project proposals and fund-raising opportunities;

 Make use of UN-Habitat expertise to enhance the Chair activities in education, research and project development;

 Participate in peer-review of UN-Habitat flagship research, reports and capacity development programs;

 Support data analysis and reporting on the UN-Habitat Global Sample of 200 Cities and the Global Sample of Cities of the City Prosperity Initiative and actively participate in the monitoring of the NUA and SDG 11.

 Make use the UN-Habitat – UNI brand logo in the implementation of all their activities including business cards.

UN-Habitat role

UN-Habitat will manage the initiative, coordinate selection of UN-Habitat Chairs, monitor implementation of approved projects, organize the UN-Habitat UNI award and will continue hosting the UNI portal. UN-Habitat will also create the Global Urban Learning series. UN-Habitat Chairs will implement proposed projects.

Main Outputs

1. The Global Urban Learning Series comprised of several lectures in the format of MOOCs. The series will support the UN-Habitat chairs in their academic, research and project activities, and meet the knowledge needs of urban communities, local authorities and urban practitioners on sustainable urbanization.

2. The consolidated UNI portal and its mobile version. These will be updated and monitored as a tool used for knowledge exchange on sustainable urbanization.

3. 70 (seventy) UN-Habitat Chairs established and operational by the end of 2018. By beginning of 2019, all UN-Habitat Chairs will be actively implementing proposed projects in categories A,B and C; By 2018 Biennial UNI awards presented to the best performing Chairs and results published in the UNI portal.

Main Results/Impact

1. Capacity of UN-Habitat partners and general users of the UNI-Portal and the Global Urban Learning Series is enhanced. Reports provide evidence of the use and improvements in knowledge and skills of users.

2. Increased knowledge exchange through the UNI portal measured by the traffic of user’s interface, number of uploads and downloads, and reports on the use of its resources.

3. UN-Habitat Chair report on improvements against approved indicators in the following categories:

A. Enhanced Educational Capacities for Sustainable Urbanization*. This may get the form of improved or new curriculum, increased number of students or institutional strengthening that ensures inclusion of NUA and SDG 11 into research and education.

B. At least 30% of UN-Habitat Chairs report changes and results due to successful partnerships among universities, urban communities and cities*.

C. Local officials and civil society leaders participating in Capacity Development projects report enhanced knowledge and skills as a results of the Chairs’ activities*.

*Impact of UNI Chairs projects will be measured as per specific project indicators proposed.

The UN-Habitat UNI award will have been granted to best performing Chairs. Related best practices will be disseminated through the UNI portal and UN-Habitat channels.

Duration and Budget

Two years starting in first quarter of 2017. Duration of the inception phase: 1 year.

 US$ 1,200.000,00. The establishment of 50 chairs will enable 100% cover of the costs.

 UN-Habitat is seeking funding US$ 102,904.00 for the inception phase of 12 months, equivalent to 8.6% of the total estimated budget.

 UN-Habitat is also looking for private foundations and donor institutions interested in directly sponsoring universities to become UN-Habitat Chairs.


UNI Action Plan – Universities

UNI Action Plan – Donors 

UNI information flyer