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Prof Julio D Davila
34 Tavistock Square
Prof Julio D Davila profile picture
  • Professor of Urban Policy and International Development
  • Development Planning Unit
  • Faculty of the Built Environment

Julio D Dávila is Professor of Urban Policy and International Development at UCL. 

Twitter: @DavilaJulio 

A civil engineer and urban development planner with international experience in research and consultancy projects in 15 countries in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Prof. Dávila's research focuses on the role of local government in progressive social and political transformation in developing countries; the governance dimensions of urban and peri-urban infrastructure (transport, and water & sanitation); the intersection between planning and urban informality; and linkages between rapid urbanisation and health. 

Between September 2012 and August 2020 Prof. Dávila was the Director of The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL. He has taught at the London School of Economics and the University of Cape Town, and has lectured in several universities around the world. He has had advisory roles for institutions and projects including at Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Medellín campus), the British Academy, and Children Change Colombia (a UK-based charity). He has been a consultant to international organisations such as The World Bank, GIZ and DFID, among others. He has been interviewed by prestigious international media, such as The Economist, The New York Times, BBC and the Wall Street Journal, and appeared in a 2020 BBC documentary. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers (UK). 

Prior to UCL, he was a research fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) in London and Buenos Aires, under the leadership of the late Argentinian urbanist and historian, Dr Jorge E Hardoy. In 1988 at IIED he co-founded the journal Environment & Urbanization (Sage), one of the most influential and widely quoted international journals in the urban field.  

As a young graduate civil engineer in his native Colombia, he worked as a planner and researcher at the National Planning Agency (Departamento Nacional de Planeación), where he contributed his knowledge on self-help housing in Bogotá to the country’s first National Housing Plan. 

You can listen to Julio in a recent Wall Street Journal video discussing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on urban transport, commenting on the impact of Medellin's aerial cable-car lines on low-income populations, and in dialogue with DPU colleagues in a podcast sharing DPU's research on urban mobility as part of the 'Thinking Cities: Debating just development in the Global South' series.

Research Summary

My research focuses on the role of city governments in progressive social and political transformation; governance dimensions of urban and peri-urban infrastructure (transport, water & sanitation); planning and urban informality; and linkages between rapid urbanisation and health. I am currently involved in debates with scholars and practitioners on the urban impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a view to furthering applied policy research to the greatest development challenge facing humanity for generations. This includes participation in a recent international survey, and arises from previous work, including: inter-disciplinary research on urban zoonotic diseases in Nairobi (Kenya); social and urban impacts of transport investments in Medellin and Barranquilla (Colombia), and in Nigerian cities; and the interactions between urban planning and health, as examined  in, among others, a co-authored Lancet article

For a complete list of publications see under 'Publications' below. My books include: 

Selected other publications: 

Teaching Summary

Julio is currently on a sabbatical period until September 2021. In previous years he has run the Doctoral Seminar series for first-year MPhil/PhD students at the DPU and taught in the following UCL Master's modules:

DPU: 'Industrialisation and infrastructure' (not run in 2020/21)
UCL Institute for Global Health: 'Urban health' 
Bartlett School of Planning: 'International case studies in transport planning'

Academic Background
1998   Doctor of Philosophy University of London
1984   Master of Science University College London
1983   Postgraduate Diploma University College London
1981   Bachelor of Science (Honours) Universidad de los Andes
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