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LIDC & The Guardian Development Debates: Are Slum Free Cities Achievable?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 - 18:00 to 20:00
John Snow Theatre, LSHTM

On Tuesday 31st January the second debate of the LIDC & The Guardian  Development Debate Series took place. 

The theme of the second debate was urbanisation and discussed 'Are Slum Free Cities Achievable?'

LIDC has teamed up with The Guardian Development Network to host a series of panel debates on current key issues in international development. Four speakers, comprised of academics from the Bloomsbury Colleges, development practitioners and policy-makers, take questions from the audience and discussions are guided by a moderator.


The global population is projected to rise to 9.7bn people by 2050, and it is estimated that around 66% of that total will be living in cities, with the majority of urban growth expected to take place in developing regions in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

According to UN-Habitat, around 33% of the urban population in the developing world in 2012, or about 863 million people, lived in slums, a figure that is increasing every day with urban growth.

On the one hand, slums give people opportunities, allowing them to move to cities, driving economic growth and lifting societies out of extreme poverty; however, they can also lead to overcrowding and squalid conditions resulting in problems of inadequate sanitation, poor health and social unease.

In October 2016 a new Urban Agenda was adopted at the Habitat III Summit in Quito to provide global standards for the achievement of sustainable urban development but how should developing countries effectively respond to the challenge of surging city populations and the growth of slums and informal settlements? Is it possible to have slum free cities and should developing countries be focusing on upgrading slums or eradicating them?


Professor Julio D Dávila

Julio is Professor of Urban Policy and International Development, and Director of  UCL's Development Planning Unit. A civil engineer and urban development planner, he has over 25 years’ international experience in research and consultancy projects in 15 countries in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. His research focuses on the role of local government in progressive social and political transformation in developing countries; the governance dimensions of urban and peri-urban infrastructure (transport, and water & sanitation); the intersection between planning and urban informality; and linkages between rapid urbanisation and health. 

Amina Khan

Amina is Senior Research Officer at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). Her current research interests include growth, poverty, and inequality in urban contexts.

Himanshu Parikh

Himanshu Parikh studied engineering sciences at Cambridge University and practised in the UK for ten years before moving to India in 1982. In India, he has done innovative work in structural engineering as well as in urban planning, environmental upgradation and infrastructure design, with an emphasis on low-income urban and rural areas. His focus is to use water and environmental sanitation as a principal catalyst of poverty alleviation. His work has transformed the lives of about half a million slum dwellers in India. He has also been actively involved in academics, in India as an Adjunct Professor at School of Planning, CEPT University and currently teaching intermittently at Cambridge University and University College London in development studies.

Himanshu Parikh has held various positions outside his practice, including as a member of the Planning Commission group on poverty alleviation and member of Governing Council of Department of Science and Technology, India. He has received several awards including the SOM Fazlur Khan Fellowship for excellence in structural design, the United Nations World Habitat Award for Urban Development, Aga Khan Award for Architecture and a Citation by Government of India. In recognition of his contributions, in 2005 he was invited as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Arts, UK.

Anna Walnycki

Anna Walnycki is a researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development (iied), with expertise in urban poverty, water and sanitation, as well as ethnographic and participatory research. Her current work involves research on the role of partnerships in urban poverty reduction, particularly for the delivery of water and sanitation services. 

Bibi Van der Zee (moderator)

Bibi van der Zee, editor of the Guardian’s Global Development Professionals Network.