DAIDA foundation Global Urban Thesis Award

The annual DAIDA foundation Global Urban Thesis Award aims to acknowledge and support master graduates who, through their work, help improve the urban infrastructure and living conditions for vulnerable groups in the rapidly growing cities of developing economies. Eligible participants are either students or recent graduates of university programmes with an urban/environmental research or design component.

2020 Theme: Water and Development

The theme for 2020 edition of the awards is Water and Development. Eligible theses address topics like water supply, flooding and/or drought-related to urban vulnerable groups in the developing world. The theses must also link to one or more of the selected SDG targets for this award (listed below) and must be written in English. Only theses submitted during the academic years 2019-2020 and 2018-2019 are eligible.


1st prize:      €6000 Award for Best Thesis & €5000 award for a follow-up research project

2nd prize:     €5000

3rd prize:      €4000


Submissions for the 2020 edition of the awards have closed. Institutions which indicated their interest have been provided with an application package with they distributed internally to eligible students. Following the dissemination of this call by the university, students were invited to submit their applications. Each university subsequently selected their three best applications, which were submitted to IHS by the 1st of December 2020. The jury is currently deliberating and will announce the winners by mid February 2021. 

Meet the Jury

Read more about the members of the jury: Shyam Khandekar, Melissa Navarra & Claudio Acioly Jr.

read more

Attend the online Award Ceremony!

The event takes place on the 25th of February from 12:00 to 13:30 (CET)

Go to the event

See the candidates

Check the participating universities and the shortlisted theses!

read more

Selection criteria

    • Relevance for urban vulnerable groups
      A clear focus on challenges for disadvantaged and vulnerable urban groups in the Global South

    • Innovative perspective
      An innovative approach on how to tackle these challenges             
    • Policy relevance
      The policy implications and recommendations of the work for improving the livelihoods and living conditions of vulnerable urban groups
    • Link to SDG target(s)
      The link to and potential contribution to help reach one or more of the selected SDG targets
    • Academic quality/research design
      A clear link between research questions and relevant theory. The justification of the methodological approach and its limitations
    • Goals and objectives
      A clear intention of what the project wants to accomplish. Objectives that derive from the goals and constitute measurable targets.
    • Methods, timeline and costs
      The justification of the methodological approach. A clear plan, including a time frame and specifications of costs. The duration of the proposed follow-up project must not exceed 2 years.
    • Outputs and results
      The relevant outputs which are expected (e.g. publication, a new method, new tool etc.

Selected SDG targets relevant to the award

  • 6.1 By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all

    6.2 By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations

    6.3 By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally

    6.4 By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity

    6.5 By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate

    6.6 By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes

    6.A By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies

    6.B Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management

  • 11.5 By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations

    11.B By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels.

  • 13.1 Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries

    13.2 Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning.

    13.B Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in less developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities.