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Gordon McGranahan

Research Fellow

Gordon McGranahan is a multidisciplinary researcher, with a doctorate in development/economics, and more than three decades of experience working on urban issues. He is a Research Fellow with the Cities Cluster and works on urban sustainability with the STEPS Centre at IDS.

During the 1990s he led the urban environment programme at the Stockholm Environment Institute, conducting research on urban environmental risk transitions and environmental justice, including a multi-city study of household environmental burdens in Accra, Jakarta and Sao Paulo. Between 2000 and 2016, he worked at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), heading up the Human Settlements Programme and then Group for a decade, and more recently leading its work on urbanization. His most cited work during this period was on urban risk transitions, the climate-related risks of human settlement in coastal zones, and water privatization.

His current research interests include the politics, economics and practicalities of: how urbanisation can contribute to economic productivity, social inclusion and environmental sustainability; how growing cities can accommodate their additional population more equitably; how the challenges of coproducing sanitation in deprived urban settlements can be overcome; how the informal economy can be enhanced or transformed, and most recently; the dynamics of urban violence.

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Gordon McGranahan’s recent work



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...