Cities have a distinctive role in development processes: they are focal points for economic growth, jobs and innovation but also for poverty, inequality, vulnerability and conflict. Although we can learn from historical processes of urbanisation, there are many new development elements to understand on how cities play a role in these processes, and what it means to be living in a city in the 21st century.
Our research focuses on the circumstances of poor and vulnerable people and explores ways in which different forms of inequalities interact to produce both good and bad outcomes for people in cities. It maintains a focus on rights and social justice through explorations of the boundaries between the formal-informal, legal-illegal, and of urban social movements and forms of association. There is a strong commitment to working and understanding from the ‘bottom-up’ and for finding ways to engage with people and organisations that work directly with and for city people.
Ultimately, our work on cities aims to transform the knowledge needed for better lives and more equitable and sustainable development globally.
Current IDS research explores a wide range of issues in cities and on the role of cities in contemporary development processes, which includes:
- The emergence of new patterns and forms of poverty and vulnerability
- Urban governance and livelihoods
- New forms of association and political action
- The role of ICTs
- Concerns for sustainable development
- The peri-urban space
- The transmissions of diseases
- Habitat III and The New Urban Agenda
IDS researchers working within the Cities thematic cluster are members of the following: