Research in Urban Strategies and Planning

USP researches projects areas are on urbanization, sustainable urban development and planning, urban management, urban governance, social innovation and informal land markets with a geographical focus on Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Europe. The team is part of a large research consortia with universities, development cooperation organizations and consulting firms. USP is engaged in the following research projects:

1) Spatial Inequality in Times of Urban Transition: Complex Land Markets in Uganda and Somaliland. The objective of the research is to explore the spatial inequalities through Complex Land Markets in 4 cities in Uganda and Somaliland. It will investigate the urban transition of these fast growing cities by assessing the role of urban land markets, being understood as multiple and complex in producing or reducing inequalities. The research seeks to develop a more holistic understanding of how these cities work as and within integrated systems. In this understanding, the social and legal components of land markets institutionalise diverse practices of land transactions presenting an informal-formal continuum. CLM are an institution that has substituted to an important extent the merely formal, partially dysfunctional land governance institutions.

2) TRANSIT (Transformative Social Innovation Theory) (link) is an ambitious 4-year long research project that develops a theory of transformative social innovation which is about empowerment and change in society. It is an EC-funded (FP7) research project responding to the call for research on “Social Innovation – empowering people, changing societies?”. TRANSIT’s vision is to increase the impact and potential of transformative social innovation that can empower people and facilitate change for sustainable development in society. It utilises a research method which encourages feedback from social entrepreneurs and innovators, policymakers and academics to develop a theory with practical relevance. Just recently TRANSIT researchers have completed 20 case studies of transnational social innovation networks within Europe and Latin America, bringing in-depth empirical research to an end.

Recently completed:

Urbanisation in Mozambique: Assessing Actors, Processes, and Impacts of Urban Growth (link)

The team has recently finalised a research project on urbanisation in Mozambique (link). The research had the purpose of filling theoretical and evidence gaps related to the comparative merits of planned expansion and compactness by collecting and analysing data on cities and urban land expansion in Mozambique, testing the relevant theories/models and feeding the results into the current academic and policy debates at national and international levels.