Worldwide, approximately one billion people currently live in slums – the vast majority of them in developing countries. Their numbers are expected to double by 2030, placing unprecedented pressures on cities around the globe.
To encourage fresh ideas on dealing with this challenge, USAID’s Urban Programs Team, together with the International Housing Coalition (IHC), The World Bank, the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Comparative Urban Studies Project (CUSP), and Cities Alliance, launched a research paper competition for graduate students. The competition was inspired by both “The Places We Live” exhibit, which was brought to Washington, D.C., in commemoration of World Habitat Day, October 2009, and the World Urban Forum V, held in March 2010 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The competition was open to students currently pursuing postgraduate degrees from domestic and international universities. Contestants were asked to submit policy-based, solutions-oriented papers focused on one of the following topics:
- The Right to the City / Bridging the Urban Divide
- Equal Access to Shelter
- Cultural Diversity & Identity in Cities
- Governance and Participation
- Inclusive Sustainable Urbanization
More than 160 students from around the world submitted abstracts from a wide range of perspectives, including urban planning, architecture, economics, political science, geography, public policy and management, sociology, anthropology, and demography. Representatives from the sponsors selected fourteen finalists to submit full papers.