Volvo Research and Educational Foundations Support

Volvo Research and Educational Foundations logo

The Center for Sustainable Urban Development was launched in 2005 with support from the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF)’s Future Urban Transport (FUT) Initiative. VREF focuses on future urban transport by funding research and education centers (Centers of Excellence) that explore engineering, social and political aspects of urban transport. As one of eight VREF Centers of Excellence (CoE), CSUD is embedded in a global network of centers each with different research focus. 

CSUD’s early work sought to understand the complexity of interactions between land use and transport through research and education, including student and professional training programs. CSUD’s work started in the Nairobi Metropolitan Region, and continues to have a sustained, strong engagement there including through the “Re-imaging Nairobi” project which catalyzed the Kenya Transport Research Network, a series of policy dialogues and the Non-Motorized Transport policy for Nairobi County. With VREF support, CSUD has also engaged in critical work on financing urban access, governance of BRT in Africa and minibus electrification.

Rockefeller Foundation Support

The Rockefeller Foundation logo

In the summer of 2007 we were asked by the Rockefeller Foundation to organize four one week seminars at their Bellagio conference center as what was termed a “Global Urban Summit”. We brought together world leaders for intense discussions on Water, Sanitation and Shelter, Climate Change Resilience, Urban Health, and Designing the Inclusive City summarized in the book Century of the City: No Time to Lose.

Our center received further funding in 2008 from the Rockefeller Foundation to work more intensely on Nairobi metropolitan planning and in 2011-12 for the DigitalMatatus project which has spurred a global DigitalTransport4Africa network, supporting open transport data for African cities and more recently DATUM, a similar platform for Latin American cities. These collaborative “digital commons” platforms are hosted by our partner World Resources Institute and funded by the French Development Agency. CSUD continues to work with VREF, engage in global exchanges and play a supporting role in the Mobility and Access in African Cities program which aims to support African researchers. 

Our center has also expanded its funding and partners and attracted a diverse set of scholars and activists working on a greater range of urban sustainability problems. This includes being part of the Clean Air Toolbox for Cities Initiative, building a Local Projects Challenge to accelerate realization of the SDGs and working on an American Lead Map Collaboratory, supporting Urban Heritage, Sustainability and Urban Inclusion as well as working in Harlem and South Bronx on Extreme Heat, Green Infrastructure and Climate Resilience.