Session 1

session title

The Capacity Gap

delivered by

  • Chair: Mr Alex Wright, Head of Policy, Association of Commonwealth Universities.
  • Framing presentation: delivered by Mr Kalim Siddiqui, Chair of the Pakistan Council for Architects and Town Planners
  • Panellists:
    • Ms Trudy Morgan, President, Sierra Leone Institution of Engineers 
    • Prof Dan Inkoom, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
    • Ms Geetika Anand, External Consultant, Indian Institute of Human Settlements
    • Ms Jacquiann Lawton, Head of School, University of Technology, Caribbean School of Architecture, Jamaica
  • External voice: Ms Raphaelle Vignol, Capacity Development and Training Unit, UN Habitat. 


The aim of this first session was to consider the critical capacity gaps identified in the Survey of the Built Environment Professionals in the Commonwealth and how we might work together to address the underlying issues. Following a short framing presentation in which Mr Kalim Siddiqui, Chair of the Pakistan Council for Architects and Town Planners, presented the high level findings from a recent national survey, Kalim was joined by a panel of discussants and the session concluded with time for question and answers from the audience.

This session was first broadcast on 22 April 2021 and was watched by over 145 participants from over 34 countries. The live recording of this session is available to watch at the top of this webpage.

key messages

  • Mr Kalim Siddiqui: We need governments to declare an urban emergency. Politics play an important role in addressing sustainable urbanisation and as such the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is the perfect opportunity to highlight these issues and encourage drastic measures to be taken.
  • Ms Raphaelle Vignol: We need dedicated funding for capacity building to build networks and centres of excellence and develop innovative ways to reach out to urban professionals in a cross-sectoral, trans-disciplinary manner.
  • Ms Jacquiann Lawson: Funding is vital. But we also need to recognise the importance of biodiversity and water resources to ensure liveable cities
  • Ms Geetika Anand: We need a new generation of ‘Urbanists’ capable of navigating and intermediating the various stakeholders. We need to create platforms for learning and knowledge exchange, such as this session, particularly encouraging South to South conversations.
  • Ms Trudy Morgan: The built environment needs informed urban practitioners to address sustainable urbanisation and look after our cities
  • Prof Dan Inkoom: We need to focus on inclusivity, where everybody is part of the city and where initiatives benefit a wide variety of people.

links to further information

Transform Freetown

additional resources

A copy of Kalim Siddiqui’s presentation can be found here.