The University of Melbourne
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Linking UN-Habitat and universities

posted on 2023-01-16, 01:56 authored by Michele AcutoMichele Acuto, Carolina Mayen Huerta

Linking UN-Habitat and universities: Harnessing the potential of knowledge partnerships

A study of university-UN partnerships around urban change

University partnerships are key to UN-Habitat’s ‘centre of excellence’ aspiration when it comes to convening discussions and action on urban change on a global scale. They can act as drivers of capacity building, innovation, and transformative urban development and are present a cross a wide variety of what this United Nations agency does on a daily basis. These partnerships are enacted through a wide array of ‘knowledge products’ and across a vast geography of collaborations internationally. A reform and enhancement of Habitat UNI, as the university partnership initiative of UN-Habitat, could be pivotal to reap the benefits of this multifaceted engagement. 

Between November 2021 and March 2022, the Centre collaborated with UN-Habitat’s Capacity Development and Training Unit (CDTU) to provide UN-Habitat with an assessment of both challenges and opportunities to strengthen university partnerships, looking also more specifically to the role and opportunities afforded by Habitat UNI, as UN-Habitat’s “main mechanism for partnerships with academia”.

The Study involved a mixed method approach including desk reviews of 29 documents, 13 case studies, 12 key informant interviews, and a wide survey of 84 UN-Habitat staff alongside 121 academics, rounded off by 2 focus groups internal to, and with academic UNI partners of, UN-Habitat.

Linked here are the main report of that study, including recommendations for UN-Habitat, as well as its two annexes on the history of Habitat Uni and on Case Studies of UN-Habitat-University partnerships in practice.


UN-Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Agency

Melbourne Centre for Cities, the University of Melbourne


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