Universities are not only outposts of knowledge production and
human resources, but also part of the existing global
infrastructure for training the next generation of young
professionals who will contribute towards urban sustainability. In
2014, UN-Habitat created the UN-Habitat University Initiative –
‘UNI’ for short – to establish a framework in which university
work in the field of urban sustainability could be integrated with
that of UN-Habitat.
UN-Habitat’s university partnerships have born repeated fruits in
the work of the agency and its partners. Initiatives have ranged
from sweeping international-collaboration programs to ad-hoc
projects and applied technical support initiatives. University
partnerships vary far and wide across UN-Habitat programs.
The history of UNI stresses the value of having a formal bridge
between the academic world and UN-Habitat operations, linking its
vast range of university partnerships across the global North and
South. Likewise, it also testifies to the self-organising
potential and resilience of academic collaboration in cross-border
urban research and education.
UNI aims to create global awareness of academic progress in the
field of urban sustainability. In doing so, it bridges academic
research to the ongoing work of UN-Habitat, as well as that of
UN-Habitat’s partners, such as local governments and civil society
actors. UNI is the institutional link between current urban issues,
university research, and tangible change towards sustainable cities
of the future.
To unlock the potential of universities as key actors in city
governance, UNI is committed to promoting the following principles
of sustainable urban development:
Accessible and pro-poor land, infrastructure, services, mobility
- Socially-inclusive, gender sensitive, healthy and safe development
Environmentally sound and carbon efficient built environment,
including the use of appropriate technologies
Our university partners
See list of university partners
Universities & the New Urban Agenda
Together with other flagship global agendas, the New Urban Agenda
(NUA) aims at closing the gap between academia and practice. The
NUA recognises the potential for university-city collaborations to
become interconnected accelerators of knowledge and skills.
UNI aims to enhance the profile of university-city partnerships,
both through its own and university networks, as well as through
initiatives aimed at recognising how higher-education institutions
can act as conveners of multi-scalar conversations.
Learn more about the New Urban Agenda
Universities & the SDGs
Many universities today are embracing the SDGs in their curricula
and research. This is reflected in frequent university cooperation
with governing authorities in the form of Voluntary Local and
National Reviews (VLRs and VNRs) targeting progress towards SDG11.
UNI aims to focus explicitly on the urban dimension of the SDGs,
both in the context of the Global North and South.