About Uni


Our history

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

    and housing
  • 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.

Learn more