By 2030, 60 per cent of the global population will live in towns and cities. In Africa and Asia the urban population is set to double in the next two decades, while the urban share of global poverty is increasing. These demographic shifts mean new challenges for development in terms of providing access to basic services and the design and implementation of effective poverty reduction strategies, health systems and climate change adaptation programmes.

Urban development and slum

IDS Cities Cluster researchers (many of whom work with the IDS-convened STEPS Centre) are exploring the implications of increasing urbanisation and the expansion of peri-urban areas for both rural and urban sustainability. This research seeks to understand what the expansion of these urban centres and peri-urban areas means for the health and wellbeing of local communities and in particular the impact on their access to basic services, resources such as land and water and decent livelihoods.

We are also researching the implications of rapid urbanisation on wellbeing and resilience, assisting safe and inclusive urbanisation and how climate change adaptation programmes and poverty reduction initiatives need to respond to these demographic shifts.

Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda

The United Nations Habitat III Conference was convened to reinvigorate global commitment to sustainable urbanisation. Held in Quito, Ecuador, from 17–20 October 2016, the Conference's mission is the adoption of a New Urban Agenda - a document which will set global standards of achievement in sustainable urban development.

See how IDS and our partners are engaging with Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda.

A Mobile Training Platform for Urban Policing in India and Nepal

The aim of this project is to develop training videos for urban police that can be accessed via mobiles. This kind of platform allows the videos to be centrally updated, accessed (or ‘pushed’) on demand, and also allow for an innovative addition to police performance monitoring. More details

Capacity Building for Smart Data and Inclusive Cities (SDIC)

The “Capacity Building for Smart Data and Inclusive Cities” (SDIC) project aims strengthen technical and institutional capacities by working directly with municipal authorities participating in the Smart Cities Mission in four secondary cities in India: Bhopal and Jabalpur (in Madhya Pradesh) and Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi (in Kerala). More details

Cities, Violence and Order

Cities have long been recognised as not only the firm centres of government in the global north and south, but also as central to the processes of state consolidation, transformation and erosion (as seen in the work of Charles Tilly in the 1980s and 1990s). More details

Ebola: Lessons for development

IDS researchers argue that there is an urgent need to look beyond the immediate, on-the-ground concerns of disease control and containment to consider the bigger and broader questions about international development. More details

Futures Workshop on Cities, Violence and Order: The Challenges and Complex Taxonomy of Security Provision in Cities of Tomorrow

Cities have for long been recognised as not only the firm centres of government in the global north and south, but also central to the processes of state consolidation, transformation and erosion (as seen in the work of Charles Tilly in the 1980s and 1990s). More details

Improving access to livelihoods, jobs and basic services in violent contexts

Expanding access to work and services, such as public utilities and safe and reliable transportation, are important elements of any approach to strengthen security in poor urban neighbourhoods. More details

Interactions Eldis Website

Interactions is an IDS-hosted interactive online resource on Empowering Women and Girls, featuring real-time research and analysis. The website features up-to-the minute research findings and policy analysis on gender-based violence, urban health and unpaid care work from IDS and partners More details

Political economy of peri-urban expansion

This project examines the role of peri-urban spaces in urban expansion and how resilience can be fostered in these contexts. More details

The Urban Land Nexus and Inclusive Urbanization in Dar es Salaam, Mwanza and Khartoum

This action-oriented research project will use the urban land nexus and its politics to provide the entry point for analysing the cities of Khartoum, Dar es Salaam and Mwanza and as integrated city systems. The overarching objective is to identify, research, and stimulate policy debate on actionable changes that are politically feasible and scalable within existing urban systems, and will foster more inclusive and welfare-enhancing urban transitions. More details

UN Habitat III: Creating Safe and Inclusive Cities That Leave No One Behind

Addressing security and inclusion in cities as universal issues, at this side-event we will focus on how well-managed urbanisation can revitalise urban spaces that had either been lost to violence or suffered from a lack of access to basic services and neglect. More details

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IDS publications on international development research

CALL FOR PAPERS: Rethinking Urbanisation and Equity in Asia: Harnessing the Potential of Urban Living for All Children

This multi-disciplinary conference seeks to investigate and explore the question of how issues of urban inclusion can be addressed to support equitable access to services and livelihood options, particularly for the most marginalised and excluded children in Asia. More details

Making the Urban Poor Safe: Lessons from Nairobi and Maharashtra

Making the Urban Poor Safer: Lessons from Nairobi and Maharashtra

IDS Policy Briefing 47 (2013)

The most impoverished neighbourhoods of Nairobi and Mumbai are characterised by severe lack of service provision, poor access to employment opportunities and urban violence. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Legacy of Inequality and Negligence in Brazil’s Unfinished Urban Transition: Lessons for Other Developing Regions

International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development 5.1 (2013)

Compared to other developing countries in Asia and Africa, Brazil experienced an early urban transition. Cities, especially large ones, already concentrate most of the country's population and economic activity. However, an underlying structure of inequality persists in urban areas, reflecting a historical reluctance to accept urban growth or to steer markets and planned developments towards meeting the housing needs of the poor. More details

Non-IDS publication

Urban Settings as an Opportunity for Realizing All Child Rights

South-South Cooperation for Child Rights Working Papers 3 (2013)

This brief focuses on the challenges posed by urban poverty and exclusion, and the need to ensure that urban settings live up to their potential for realizing the rights of all children as the region continues to develop rapidly. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Housing Density and Housing Preference in Bangkok's Low-income Settlements

Urbanization and Emerging Population Issues 12 (2013)

The traditional view of a low-income informal settlement is of overcrowded space that has both high population density within its land area and within each dwelling. This paper investigates whether this high density is observed in practice, and whether it is perpetuated in other forms of low-income housing, both community-developed (in settlements upgraded through participatory processes) and public housing. More details

Image Teaser for ER17

Unemployment, Service Provision and Violence Reduction Policies in Urban Maharashtra

IDS Evidence Report 17 (2013)

This report analyses the relationship between violence and economic vulnerability among urban populations in the Indian state of Maharashtra. More details

ER15 Image Teaser

The Climate Change – Migration – Urbanisation Nexus: Workshop Report

IDS Evidence Report 15 (2013)

The concept of the ‘Climate Change – Migration – Urbanisation’ nexus emerged from the recognition that climate change, migration, and urbanisation are closely and intimately linked together, and can potentially become sources of vulnerability. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Urbanization and Economic Growth: The Arguments and Evidence for Africa and Asia

Environment and Urbanization 25.2 (2013)

The relationship between urbanization and development is a vital policy concern, especially in Africa and Asia. This paper reviews the arguments and evidence for whether rapid urban population growth can help to raise living standards. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Evolving Urban Health Risks: Housing, Water and Sanitation, and Climate Change

This chapter examines the urban health risk transition and some of its implications. It starts by examining how and why health indicators can counterbalance more conventional economic indicators in assessing the impacts of urban environmental burdens. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Fair and Effective Responses to Urbanization and Climate Change: Tapping Synergies and Avoiding Exclusionary Policies

Over the first half of this century, the urbanization level of Asia is expected to increase from about 37 to 64 per cent, while that of Africa is expected to grow from 36 per cent to 58 per cent (United Nations, 2012). More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Urban Transformation: Health, Shelter and Climate Change

This volume brings together some of the world's foremost experts in urban development with the aim of approaching these issues as an opportunity for real positive change. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Community-driven Sanitation Improvement in Deprived Urban Neighbourhood: Meeting the Challenges of Local Collective Action, Co-production, Affordability and a Trans-sectoral Approach

There is an international consensus that urban sanitary conditions are in great need of improvement, but sharp disagreement over how this improvement should be pursued. Both market-driven and state-led efforts to improve sanitation in deprived communities tend to be severely compromised, as there is a lack of effective market demand (due to collective action problems) and severe barriers to the centralized provision of low-cost sanitation facilities. In principle, community-driven initiatives have a number of advantages. More details

Non-IDS publication

The Agency and Governance of Urban Battlefields: How Riots Alter Our Understanding of Adequate Urban Living

HiCN Working Paper 122 (2012)

For the first time in close to 100 years, India reports higher population growth in its urbanised areas than across its vast rural landscape. However, a confluence of vast urbanisation and scarcity of resources has implied heightened levels of localised violence, centred in and around already impoverished neighbourhoods. This therefore has a disproportionate impact in further marginalising poor communities, and is at odds with the notion that cities are incontestably and inevitably the context of sustained poverty eradication. More details

IDS publications on international development research

What’s Civil About Intergroup Violence? Five Inadequacies of Communal and Ethnic Constructs of Urban Riots

The main question guiding this paper asks how our understanding of intergroup violence is altered when we explicitly engage with the agency to perpetrate violence at the individual level. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Extralegal Security and Policing for the Urban Dispossessed in Mumbai

Gupte, J., 'Extralegal Security and Policing for the Urban Dispossessed in Mumbai' More details

IDS publications on international development research

Migration and Social Protection: Claiming Social Rights Beyond Borders

In a time of increasing migration, citizenship as a form of classificationhas come to assume the kind of importance once reserved for other kinds of discriminatory and exclusionary classifications of status. Although citizenship has many other aspects, for migrants its primary significance is the extent to which it enables them to gain access to a territory and to rights within it. More details

CSP Research Report 01 cover

The Mobility Patterns of Rural-Urban Migrants and their Social Protection in China: Beyond the Extension of Urban-based Approaches

CSP Research Report 01 (2011)

Although security of residence is central to the social policy agenda in most developed countries, it has not been a prominent concern is most developing countries in recent years. In countries such as Pakistan, urban planning is skewed in favour of housing for the rich and the middle classes. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Urban Health: Global Perspectives

In this important new book, experts identify the priority problems and outline solutions that can generate and sustain healthy urban environments. More details