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our story

We are a growing collaborative of researchers working with communities, NGOs, government agencies and other stakeholders, co-producing knowledge that seeks to improve living conditions in Latin America’s cities and towns.

This collaborative endeavour started with a series of research activities in 2014 in the city of Medellin, Colombia, led by the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University in the UK, in partnership with academic and non-academic institutions and organisations in Colombia. A key initial platform for our evolving research agenda was the two-year Medellin Urban Innovation (MUI) project, funded by a Newton Institutional Links Grant from the British Council. MUI investigated to what extent urban innovation in Medellin has helped increase social equity and well-being in the city. It focused on four key themes: housing and habitat; public realm, green infrastructure and wellbeing; cultural values and heritage; and mobility and socio-spatial integration.

MUI provided an opportunity for the co-creation of research agendas which have led to the development of the Global Urban Research Collaborative. A key initial strand of research was on resilience and co-produced landslide risk management in low-income communities, initially in Medellin and later also in São Paulo, Brazil. Our research has since then expanded to encompass other climate change-related risks and the role of communities in the development of mitigation and adaptation strategies. Currently we are conducting  research on flood risk management in vulnerable communities in Mexico City and Puebla in Mexico, and on sustainable resource management and innovation in Galapagos in Ecuador. We are also conducting research on co-produced water management infrastructures in the intersection between rural and urban areas in Medellin, Colombia.

The collaborative continues to strengthen in the depth of its research, and to grow in breadth of issues and geographic areas. Our geographic focus is Latin America, but the relevance of our research is worldwide, and we are open to extending the collaborative to work elsewhere in the Global South.

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