Three Projects: 2005-2020

Promote equitable and sustainable development

  • 2005-12: Global Studio
  • 2013-15: People Building Better Cities
  • 2018-20: Agenda 2030 Local Projects Challenge

2005-12 | Global Studio

The Global Studio was spearheaded by the UN Millennium Project Task Force on Improving the Lives of Slum Dwellers (MDG 7) in 2004. Founded to support Millennium Development Goal 7 (environmental sustainability and the slum dwellers target) and MDG 8 (develop new partnerships), over 600 students, educators and professionals from 35 countries, 66 universities and 11 disciplines participated in Global Studio Istanbul (2005), Vancouver (2006), Johannesburg (2007, 08, 09) and Bhopal (2012).

Led by Anna Rubbo at the University of Sydney, Australia, Global Studio engaged in a ‘people as partners’ hands-on educational experience in four countries, and worked with communities on local, co-produced projects to help alleviate poverty, reduce inequality and improve lives – and at the same time counter the narrative that ‘urban professionals don’t listen’ to the urban poor.

Global Studio shared processes and outcomes in communities, in universities, at UN World Urban Forums in Vancouver, Nanjing, Rio de Janeiro, Naples and Quito, and other conferences, It produced some 37 short films (see below) as well as a number of academic publications.

Post Global Studio: In Diepsloot township, Johannesburg, work in water and sanitation, arts and culture that began with Global Studio (2007-09), community-led development by young people continues to make good progress.

2013-15 | People Building Better Cities traveling exhibition

People Building Better Cities: Participation and Inclusive Urbanization (2013-15) built on the work of Global Studio. A  traveling exhibition, PBBC  was developed by a team led by Anna Rubbo at the Center for Sustainable Urban Development, NY, and consists of 23 panels. PBBC was shown in 10 countries and 18 cities, including Medellin, Colombia (World Urban Forum7) and Durban, South Africa (Union of International Architects Congress). PBBC shared lessons learned in Global Studio, profiled the work of people-centered urban professionals SE Asia, Australia, and the Caribbean.

PBBC encouraged debate and action on issues confronting cities in the context of climate change, poverty and inequality,  citizen engagement, as well as education modes. PBBC is available in English, Portuguese, French, Spanish, Chinese and Hindi.

2018-20 | Agenda 2030 Design, Planning and Policy Studio: Local Projects Challenge

This effort builds on the Global Studio and People Building Better Cities.  The Sustainable Development Goals (2015-30), heralded as ‘goals to transform our world’ are the centerpiece of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. The 17 goals build on, expand and improve the 2000-15 MDGs. Goal 11 (‘make cities and human settlement, inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ ) shines a very bright light on cities; so does Goal 10 (‘reduce inequality) and many others.

The project is in three parts:

  1. ASK + learn (City Maker survey, 2018);
  2. ACT+ learn (Local Projects Challenge, 2019);
  3. SHARE + learn (in local, national and international arenas, 2020).

With the adoption of the SDGs by 193 countries (2015) and the New Urban Agenda by 167 countries (2016), the AIM of the Local Project Challenge is to accelerate awareness of the SDGs and NUA, and to help mainstream them.

Stage 1ASK + learn
The survey asks  ‘city makers’ in education, the urban professions and civil society, ‘How are the SDGs traveling in your world?’ Available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi, Mandarin and Arabic.


Stage 2: ACT + learn
LOCAL PROJECTS CHALLENGE. During 2019 urban professionals, universities, local authorities and civil society – and especially women, youth and LGBT communities, are invited to form local partnerships to develop local projects that are useful, creative and respond to relevant SDGs and the NUA. Projects can be of any size or type. Co-design is encouraged. The Challenge  closes on December 7,  2019.  More information will be posted February 1.

Stage 3: SHARE + learn
All LOCAL PROJECTS CHALLENGE outcomes will be posted online, with winning projects printed and displayed at UN Habitat’s World Urban Forum 10, Abu Dhabi, February 2020.  Representatives of winning teams will discuss inclusive and innovative approaches and processes to people centered sustainable projects. Post WUF, co-publications and peer to peer city and regional events are planned, including attendance at the UIA (Union of International Architects) Congress, Rio de Janeiro, June 2020.

Project Principals
Anna Rubbo, with Elliott Sclar, Jacqueline Klopp, Vera Tangari and CSUD affiliates William Chan (Australia), Silvia Vercher (USA/Spain), Devangi Ramakrishnan (India), Elaine Angeles (USA /Philippines), Jennifer van den Bussche (South Africa/Australia).

Center for Sustainable Urban Development, The Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York

Global Studio Films

Global Studio Istanbul (2005)

New Mindsets (2007)
Small Change, Big Difference (2007)
A student made film about insulating shacks
SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation) (2007)
Academic Acupuncture (2008)
Diep Salute (2009)
A student film made to promote hip hop artists

INDIA 2012
Short films, interviews with speakers at the GS international conference ‘Reimagining Inclusive Urbanization’; interviews with GS participants

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