Event 3

event title

Responding to the Global Urban Planning Challenge: Developing an Open Innovation Competition

delivered by

  • Chair: Ms Kathy Nothstine & Mr Olivier Usher, Nesta Challenges, UK
  • Opening and closing remarks: Mr Peter Oborn, Senior Vice President, Commonwealth Association of Architects
  • Panellists:
    •  Mr Patrick Lamson-Hall, Research Scholar, New York University Marron Institute of Urban Management, USA
    • Mr Manuel de Araujo, Mayor of Quelimane City, Mozambique
    • Dr. Shipra Narang Suri, Chief, Urban Practices Branch, Global Solutions Division, UN-Habitat
    • Mr Kilion Nyambuga, Programme Officer, Slum Dwellers International, Kenya


This is the final of three events in support of the Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation in the Commonwealth that has been developed jointly by the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Commonwealth Association of Architects, the Commonwealth Association of Planners and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, with support from the Government of Rwanda and The Prince’s Foundation. 

The pace of urbanisation in many Commonwealth Countries in Asia and Africa is without precedent. However, there is a critical shortage of reliable, easy-to-use, data-driven planning and mapping tools to support planning decision-making in rapidly urbanising countries. Cost-effective, user-led, data-driven products and services have the potential to significantly improve the capacity of local governments and communities to make planning decisions and strategic infrastructure investments that are evidence-based and in line with sustainable and equitable development principles. A challenge prize holds potential to drive innovation in this space. This event explored the points where a prize could have significant leverage, including a dive into the nature of the problem; current barriers to developing, using and scaling data-driven tools; and strategies to engage innovators, cities and stakeholders to accelerate innovation.

This event was first broadcast on 07 July 2021 and was watched by over 147 participants from over 36 countries. The live recording of this event is available to watch at the top of this webpage.

key messages

  1. A challenge prize could spur the creation of cost-effective, data-driven, scalable, locally relevant planning tools to better inform decision making in rapidly urbanising cities and human settlements.
  2. We want to discuss further with partners and funders who have an interest in supporting solving this problem, as well as exploratory conversations with potential host cities and other partners.

links to further information

Sign up for the Nesta Challenges newsletter for news as this challenge develops at https://challenges.org/newsletter/ and be sure to specifically select ‘Cities’ as your interest area.

additional resources

A copy of the PPT shared in the event can be found here.