Suzanne Trimel FOR IMMEDIATE USE (212) 854-5573 firstname.lastname@example.org As a followup to last year's Habitat II City Summit, Columbia University Tuesday (March 25) announced a research and training partnership with the United Nations to unite scholars and public officials worldwide in solving urban problems.
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY AND UNITED NATIONS
ANNOUNCE GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP TO IMPROVE CITIES
Columbia to Provide Training, Analysis and Research
To Help Local Officials Worldwide
Columbia President George Rupp and U.N. Assistant Secretary- General Wally N'Dow, head of the U.N. Centre for Human Settlements, signed a formal agreement to jointly create the United Nations Habitat Project at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs.
Under the agreement, Columbia will lead a global academic effort to accomplish the goals of the Habitat conference, according to Professor Mark Gordon, director of the Habitat Project at Columbia. Columbia will serve as the international center for research, training and information on innovative approaches to urban problems, he said.
The centerpiece of the project, Professor Gordon said, will be the training of local elected officials around the globe and an international clearinghouse of innovative approaches to urban problems. In addition, Columbia will create a network of 10 world-class universities to participate in the project.
Under Habitat II's "Best Practices Initiative," urban success stories worldwide will be analyzed by scholars and researchers at Columbia and other institutions. These 'best practices' will then be assessed for how they can be successfully repeated elsewhere. This analysis, along with expertise provided by the U.N. Center for Human Settlements and Columbia faculty and other scholars, will be available through the Internet.
"There is presently a wide range of information on 'best practices,'" said Professor Gordon. "What is missing is the critical analysis of the underlying forces that affect the potential for success in other places. This will be of enormous potential use around the globe."
Another key goal of the project will be the development of a six-week intensive training curriculum on international public management to assist government and nonprofit officials who wish to implement the recommendations of Habitat II but who lack the expertise to do so.
In addition, the Habitat project will establish:
- A formal research agenda to identify promising areas of study for accomplishing Habitat goals
- An International Urban Fellows program to focus on solutions for poverty, homelessness, unemployment, pollution and violence, among other urban ills
- Case studies and a magazine on Habitat-related goals and accomplishments
"This project offers a wonderful opportunity for collaboration between the U.N. and Columba," President Rupp said. "We share an international orientation and an urban agenda. As we work together to address the pressing problems that confront cities worldwide we look forward to establishing an internationally accessible database, to organizing common research programs, to shaping curriculum for multiple settings, and to forging a network of cooperating universities around the world."
Dr. N'Dow, who led the Habitat conference last June in Istanbul, said: "The U.N. Habitat Project at Columbia will go a long way to realize the hopes and goals of Habitat II. It is not enough for a conference, no matter how successful, to pass resolutions of good intent. More important is their implementation. I am delighted that Columbia will be our partner in helping the international community meet one of the major challenges of the new century."
Dean Anderson said: "The United Nations Habitat Project brings together our longstanding links with the United Nations, our New York- based urban policy programs and our international student body in novel and enormously fruitful ways." The Project will be housed in the Barnard- Columbia Center for Urban Policy.
Columbia will hold a competition among universities worldwide to participate in the program and within two years expects to name the first of 10 university partners that will join a network of scholarly exchanges, conferences, joint research and collaborative curriculum development and training.
These University Centers of Excellence and Innovation will share expertise across a range of areas, including public management, urban affairs, environmental protection and social and economic inequality, Professor Gordon said.
In addition, the Habitat Project will track the implementation of key Habitat goals and accomplishments through periodic reports.