Update: 28 Urban Thinkers Campuses announced

Update: Applications for new Urban Thinkers Campuses are now closed, and the full slate of 28 events — running through early 2016 — has been announced. The final list is available at the end of this post, and any queries can be sent to urbanthinkers@unhabitat.org.

In October of last year, urbanists, philosophers, writers, journalists, bloggers, planners, designers, city leaders, policymakers, entrepreneurs and marketers gathered in Caserta, Italy, a UNESCO Cultural Heritage site near Naples. The gathering, sponsored by UN-Habitat and the Universal Forum of Cultures of Naples and Campania, was the first Urban Thinkers Campus.

The event functioned as a kind of mini-conference, with the explicit goals of contributing to the debate around next year’s Habitat III conference and refining the aspirational “The City We Need” statement, created in 2014. (This statement will eventually be expanded to provide formal input from civil society into the Habitat III process.)

Feedback from the event was so positive that the World Urban Campaign partners decided to expand the idea and requested UN-Habitat to issue a call for proposals to host more of the campuses worldwide.

“Urban Thinkers Campuses are conceived as open spaces for critical exchange between urban researchers, professionals, civil society and grass-roots organizations, decision-makers and individuals who believe that urbanization is an opportunity and can lead to positive urban transformations,” says Christine Auclair, World Urban Campaign project leader at UN-Habitat.

Following three calls for proposal, there are now 28 planned campuses. Their geographic scope is global, touching down in cities across Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East and the Americas over the next 15 months. The themes are likewise diverse, covering public space, smart cities, legal frameworks, mobility, housing, sanitation, public art and gender. Many are clustered in October — World Habitat Month and also one year from the Habitat III conference.

“These are the stakeholders’ — local government, professionals, academia, civil society and private sector — tools to influence the New Urban Agenda.’”

Elin Andersdotter Fabre
Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation

The third Future of Places conference, slated for 29 June through 1 July in Stockholm, is the first event that will host an Urban Thinkers Campus.

“As the Future of Places is a platform for various actors to put public space on the agenda in global processes such as Habitat III and post-2015 [Sustainable Development Goals], and in particular advocating for an approach to urban development putting the users’ needs at the centre, it makes sense to join the World Urban Campaign and organize an Urban Thinkers Campus,” says Elin Andersdotter Fabre of the Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation, a Future of Places organizer. “These are the stakeholders’ — local government, professionals, academia, civil society and private sector — tools to influence the New Urban Agenda.”

The New Urban Agenda is the outcome document from Habitat III, intended to offer a landmark new global strategy for urbanization. A cycle of urban labs, constituent groups, urban thinkers and media sessions will generate ideas for the The City We Need debate, ultimately funnelling into the New Urban Agenda through vehicles like the World Urban Campaign’s new General Assembly of Partners. (More on the GAP is available here. Formal information on how partners can contribute to the Habitat III process is availabel here and here.)

“The Urban Thinkers Campus process shall be an inclusive global conversation, debate and review process driven by partners of the World Urban Campaign,” UN-Habitat’s Auclair says.

“By holding future Urban Thinkers Campuses, this space can be opened to new regions, partners and themes in order to facilitate comprehensive and diverse feedback from as many groups and perspectives as possible before Habitat III.”

The full schedule of Urban Thinkers Campuses, subject to revision, is as follows:







Public Space in the New Urban Agenda


29 Jun-1 Jul 15

Future of Places, Citinet, SDI, INU


The City with a Gender Perspective we Need

13 cities, Mexico

Jun-Dec 15

Huairou Commission 


The City we Need: Open for Art

Alghero, Italy


University of Sassari 


The Progressive City We Want

Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe

13-18 Jul 15

Huairou Commission & Ray of Hope


Solutions to Urban Slums: Building on Communities Knowledge & Heritage 

Kampala, Uganda

5 -7 Aug 15

Africa Union of Architects


Urban Inclusive Space

Cartagena, Colombia

17-21 Aug 15

Observatory for Sustainable Development of Cartagena


Who has a right to Asia’sWorld City: 1% vs 99%?

Hong Kong, China


Designing Hong Kong


Asia Pacific Housing Forum 5 (Philippines Satellite Event)

Manila, Philippines

4-5 Sept 15

Habitat for Humanity 


Wamama Tunauwezo (Women have the Power)

Nairobi, Kenya

tbc: Sept 15

Huairou Commission & Polycom Development Project


Urban Thinkers Campus Mannheim. Impact for a Global Urban Century [focus on life styles, environment and unemployment]

Mannheim, Germany

tbc: Sept 15

Institute for Global Responsibility and Leadership


Urban Thinkers Campus INDIA

New Delhi, India

5-8 Oct 15

National Institute of Urban Affairs


 The City as a Service

Palermo, Italy

8-10 Oct 15



Urbinsight: Knowledge and Information for Sustainable Cities

Abu Dhabi, UAE

11-13 Oct 15

Ecocity Builders


A Well-Planned, Financed and Governed City for All

Abuja, Nigeria

19-23 Oct 15

Federal University of Technology


NYC Convening on The City We Need

New York, USA


MAS New York


Healthy and Just Cities for Children and Youth

Geneva, Switzerland

tbc: end Oct 15

World Vision International


Fierce Voices: Women Transforming Cities

Vancouver, Canada

tbc: Oct 15 – May16

Huairou Commission


The role and opportunities in urban sustainability for small and mid-size cities

Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

tbc: Nov 15

Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities


Technology for the City We Need

Hangzhou, China

tbc: Nov 15

IMCC – Global Mayors Forum


Mobility, Resilience and Identity for the City We Need

Dhaka, Bangladesh

tbc: Nov 15

Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology


The Legal Framework towards Habitat III

Mexico City, Mexico

17-20 Nov 15

Colegio National de Jurisprudencia (CNJUR)


Health and Wellbeing in The City We Need!

Penang, Malaysia

24-26 Nov 15

United Nations University – International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH)


Inclusive City – Catalyzing learning spaces for youths and open technologies

Recife, Brazil

25-27 Nov 15

UFPE – Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (Federal University of Pernambuco)


Housing and Habitat – A Human Right

Barcelona, Spain

tbc: Dec 15

Habitat Professionals Forum


Future Cities Forum

Dubai, UAE

10-11 Jan 16

Dubai Real Estate Institute, FIABCI


Safety and Sanitation: A Path to Well-Being

New Delhi, India

tbc: end Jan 16

Habitat for Humanity India


Smart Planning 

Paris, France

tbc: Feb 16

Federation francaise des agences d’urbanisme (FNAU


Ethical Cities – The Global Challenge

Melbourne, Australia

tbc: Feb 16

Global Compact Cities Programme & World Vision International, RMIT University


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