Session 5


Upskilling Professional Capacity for Climate Change and the Recovery

held on

Wednesday 22nd July 2020 at 13:00 CAT, 12:00 BST, 11:00 UTC


The programme of events associated with a Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation in the Commonwealth was launched on Wednesday 24 June 2020 under the leadership of 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 Prince’s Foundation, the Rwandan Ministry of Infrastructure, and the Rwandan Ministry of Local Government.

This event was co-hosted by the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the Commonwealth Association of Architects. It focused on the findings of the ‘Survey of the Built Environment Professions in the Commonwealth’ and the need to build capacity and capability to better respond to the challenges created by climate change and rapid urbanisation. 

Opening remarks were given by:

  • Dr Joanna Newman MBE, Secretary General, Association of Commonwealth Universities

The session was chaired by:

  • Ms Sithabile Mathe, Commonwealth Association of Architects, Chair of the Validation Committee
  • Mr Alex Wright, Head of Policy, Association of Commonwealth Universities

The panel included:

  • Ms Mina Hasman, Head of Sustainability, Skidmore Owings and Merrill, London
  • Eng Papias Kazawadi, Immediate Past President, Institution of Engineers, Rwanda
  • Mr Phillip Luhl, Head of Department, Architecture and Spatial Planning, Namibia University of Science and Technology
  • Mr Alex Ndibwami, Director, Teaching and Learning Enhancement, University of Rwanda
  • Prof Barbara Norman, Chair of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Canberra
  • Dr Philippa Tumubweinee, Head of School, Department of Architecture, University of Cape Town
  • Ms Geetika Anand, Consultant, Indian Institute of Human Settlements

The event attracted over 127 attendees from 29 Commonwealth countries with a further 43 watching the livestream. Questions to the panel together with expressions of support came from variety of sources including the Young Planners Network. The live recording of this session is available to watch by clicking on the image at the top of this webpage.

key messages

  • Recognised the importance and scale of the issues identified in the Survey of the Profession, particularly the lack of professional and educational capacity in many parts of the Commonwealth which are urbanising most rapidly and are among the most vulnerable to climate change impacts
  • Recognised the need to strengthen existing capacity at all levels, particularly within local government, among existing professionals and within academia, and to strengthen the relationship between these three groups
  • Recognised the need to better align the curriculum with the SDGs and particularly with the issue of climate change 
  • Recognised the importance of developing more effective interdisciplinary, cross sector collaboration, working with all stakeholder groups
  • Recognised the opportunity to create a new cohort of ‘urban practitioners’ with the skills to navigate the complex social, economic and environmental issues associated with city making
  • Recognised the need for greater South-South collaboration especially around in the area of informality and with participatory design
  • Recognised the role of the Commonwealth as a convening force to maximise the impact of shared learnings and resources


A copy of Alex Ndibwami’s presentation can be found here.
A copy of Papias Kazawadi’s presentation can be found here.
A copy of Geetika Anand’s presentation can be found here.

further information

If you are interested in the issues raised in the programme and/or would like to become involved in a Call to Action, then please contact us at