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Prof Adriana Allen
34 Tavistock Square
  • Professor of Development Planning and Urban Sustainability
  • Development Planning Unit
  • Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL Principal Supervisor

Adriana Allen is Professor of Development Planning and Urban Sustainability at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL, where she leads the research cluster on Environmental Justice, Urbanisation and Resilience (EJUR) and the practice-based component of the MSc in Environment and Sustainable Development (ESD). She is also the co-chair of the UCL Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities.

Originally trained as an urban planner, I specialised in the fields of urban environmental governance and transformative planning, with a focus on poor and impoverished women and men. I have over 30 years of international experience in research, postgraduate teaching and consultancy undertakings in over 20 countries across the Global South, including assignments in Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uruguay and Venezuela. 

I am a regular Visiting Professor at various universities in Latin America, co-editor of the International Journal of Sustainable Urban Development, member of the editorial board of Urbanization and the International Journal of Urban Dynamics. Within UCL, I support a number a university-wide initiative in the theme of urban sustainability, justice and resilience, devoted to shape the global urban development agenda.

Most recent books include:

Burayidi, M.A., Allen, A., Twigg, J., Wamsler, C. (eds.) (forthcoming 2020) A Handbook on Urban Resilience. London: Routledge.

Vojnovic, I., Pearson, A., Gershim, A. and Allen, A. (eds.) (2019) Handbook of Global Urban Health. London: Routledge.

Allen, A., Griffin, L. and Johnson, C. (Eds.) (2017) Environmental Justice and Urban Resilience in the Global South. Palgrave MacMillan: New York. 

Bell, S., Allen, A., Hofmann, P. and Teh, T-H (eds.) (2016) Urban Water Trajectories. London: Springer Future City Series.

Allen, A., Lampis, A. and Swilling, M. (Eds.) (2015) Untamed Urbanisms. Routledge: New York.

Research Summary

Adopting a political ecology perspective, my work focuses on investigating and promoting transformative links between socio-environmental change, justice and sustainability in urban and peri-urban contexts, by exploring how grassroots groups navigate their right to the city through food, land, infrastructures & services and risk accumulation cycles. 

Recent and ongoing projects include: a four-year GCRF funded international programme on Knowledge in Action for Urban Equality (Urban KNOW); ESRC-funded Urban Africa Risk Knowledge (Urban ARK); cLIMA sin Riesgo – Disrupting Urban Risk Traps, funded by CDKN and inter-disciplinary research on Urban Zoonotic Diseases, Nairobi supported by MRC. 

My research interests span across the following areas of intellectual inquiry:

Production, reproduction and transformation of urban environmental (in)justices. My work in this field looks at the interface between insurgent practices and planned interventions and their capacity to generate transformative spatial and social relations.

Citizenship and the governance of service provision. Current gaps in service provision for the urban poor require more than technical solutions, my work in this area looks in particular at questions of hydric justice and the scope of service co-production to deliver not just improved access to basic services but also inclusive citizenship.

Risk, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change. Calls for and actual responses to climate variability in the urban Global South are prompting new debates on the way in which concomitant challenges are socially constructed by scientists, governments and citizens: who should respond to them and how and who is worst affected and why. My research examines these questions by focusing on risk accumulation cycles and the gaps and potential synergies between quotidian and formal planning responses in the context of fast urbanisation and widespread informality.

Rural-urban linkages for reciprocal urbanisation. The so-called ‘urban transitions’ faced by the global south today are underlined by emerging geographies of capitalist accumulation through unequal peri-urbanisation and truncated rural-urban linkages. My work in this area explores how and why such geographies are increasingly being shaped under conditions of ‘differential sustainability’, that is by adjusting thresholds to meet the needs and wants of certain privileged social groups and territories at the expense of others.

Teaching Summary

Much of my teaching arises from my research interests and professional work, as described above. From this perspective, I aim to create an innovative and stimulating learning platform equally concerned with enhancing critical thinking and action in planning. I contribute regularly to various components of the MSc in Environment and Sustainable Development and I am responsible for the delivery of BENVGES3 Environment and Sustainable Development in Practice.

In addition, I support various academic and non-academic organisations across the Global South in curriculum and pedagogic innovation and staff capacity-building in planning education.

01-OCT-2014 Professor of Development Planning and Urban Sustainability The Bartlett Development Planning Unit University College London, United Kingdom
01-SEP-2003 Senior Lecturer The Bartlett Development Planning Unit University Colege London, United Kingdom
01-SEP-1997 – 31-AUG-2003 Lecturer The Bartlett Development Planning Unit University College London, United Kingdom
01-SEP-1995 – 31-AUG-1996 Lecturer The Bartlett School of Planning Studies University College London, United Kingdom
01-MAR-1992 – 31-AUG-1993 Deputy Head Urban Development and Environmental Management Secretariat Municipality of Mar del Plata, Argentina
01-MAR-1990 – 31-AUG-1995 Research Associate Centre for Environmental Research National University of Mar del Plata, Argentina
01-MAR-1986 – 28-FEB-1989 Lecturer and Researcher Faculty of Architecture, Urbanism and Design National University of Mar del Plata, Argentina
Academic Background
2011   Doctor of Philosophy University College London
1994   Master of Science University College London
1986   Diploma of Architecture Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata
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