United Nations Grant to Yale University Focuses on Research Into Environmental Challenges Facing the World's Megacities

The end of the century will witness an unprecedented change in the worldwide pattern of human settlements -- for the first time in history, more people will live in cities and towns than in rural areas. More than simply a demographic shift, rapid urbanization is one of the most significant processes affecting developing countries and shaping their future. The result is a radical transformation in the structure of cities, accompanied by complex social, economic and environmental changes.

The end of the century will witness an unprecedented change in the worldwide pattern of human settlements – for the first time in history, more people will live in cities and towns than in rural areas. More than simply a demographic shift, rapid urbanization is one of the most significant processes affecting developing countries and shaping their future. The result is a radical transformation in the structure of cities, accompanied by complex social, economic and environmental changes.

Environmental challenges facing the world’s megacities is the focus of a recent $200,000 research grant from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (F&ES). The two-year grant established the Public-Private Partnerships for the Urban Environment, a program that seeks new and innovative approaches to solving urban environmental problems through partnerships between the public and private sectors.

“Yale’s strength in the areas of education, research and policy analysis is an important complement to the UNDP’s strength in program development and operational expertise in developing countries,” said Bradford Gentry, F&ES senior research scholar, who is codirector of the Yale/UNDP Public-Private Partnership along with Luis Gomez-Echeverri.

The Yale/UNPD program is being carried out by the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, which is jointly sponsored by the Law School and F&ES. It is coordinated by a faculty committee chaired by John Gordon, F&ES dean. Yale also is providing facilities for peer-reviewed publications, hosting two seminar series on private investment in the urban environment, and designing courses so graduate students can earn credit for working on the program.

The Yale/UNDP program also will:

- Establish an inquiry and support center at Yale for between 130 and 140 UNDP Country Offices in developing countries throughout the world. The center will help countries forge public-private partnerships for environmental projects, and will create a data base and documentation center describing those partnerships.

- Form alliances with educational institutions in other countries to collaborate on research projects and design leadership training programs. Yale also will create a roster of experts and institutions that can provide support for the program’s activities around the world.

- Establish a network for dissemination of information on project activities, including a World Wide Web page.

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