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

Julio D Dávila is Professor of Urban Policy and International Development, and Director of  the Development Planning Unit, UCL.

Twitter: @DavilaJulio
A civil engineer and urban development planner, I have over 25 years’ international experience in research and consultancy projects in 15 countries in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. As an academic interested in practice, in recent years my work has focused on the role that local governments in cities of the Global South can play in social and political transformation. Much of my teaching arises from my research interests. I explore how infrastructure can help shape people’s lives and its links with development. In my research I have also examined the importance for development of understanding urbanisation processes, rural-urban linkages and the potential embodied in the peri-urban interface.

In DPU, I have been a director of the MPhil/PhD Programme, the MSc Urban Development Planning and the MSc Development Administration and Planning, as well as Director of Studies and editor of DPUNEWS. I have taught at the London School of Economics and the University of Cape Town, have lectured in several universities around the world, and have been an external examiner of PhD dissertations in half a dozen universities in the UK, France, Holland, Italy, Spain and Egypt. I have collaborated on an advisory capacity with a number of institutions, including Universidad Nacional de Colombia (Medellín campus), Children of the Andes (a UK-based charity) and Homeless International (also a UK-based charity).

Prior to joining UCL, for six years I was a research fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) in London and Buenos Aires, where I worked on a number of research projects in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, under the leadership of the late Argentinian urbanist and historian, Dr Jorge E Hardoy. In 1988 at IIED I co-founded the journal Environment and Urbanization, currently published by Sage, and one of the most influential and widely quoted international journals in the urban field.

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

You can listen to Julio talking about critical challenges facing cities of the Global South.

Research Summary

My current research interests are: role of local government in progressive social and political transformation in the Global South; governance dimensions of urban and peri-urban infrastructure, especially public transport, and water & sanitation; intersection between planning and urban informality; and linkages between rapid urbanisation and health.

I am currently involved in an inter-disciplinary research on urban zoonotic diseases in Nairobi. Recent research includes an ESRC-DFID funded project on the links between mobility, poverty reduction, social inclusion and urban integration in urban interventions in Medellin, Colombia. And a cross-Faculty UCL Lancet Commission synthesis of current knowledge on how the built environment influences health outcomes leading to a co-authored article in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet.

For an updated and complete list of publications, follow links to Research outputs on the left. My books include:
Other outputs:


I run DPU's Doctoral Seminar series and provide teaching inputs in the following modules:
  • Industrialisation and infrastructure (MSc Development Administration & Planning)
  • Urban Health (MSc Global Health)
  • Transport in Emerging Countries (MSc Transport & City Planning)
Teaching Summary

I run the Doctoral Seminar series for first-year MPhil/PhD students and teach in the following Masters modules:

BENVGDA1– Management and planning for development: International and national dimensions
BENVGDA3 – Political economy of development: Industrialisation and infrastructure
BENVGDA4 – Development in practice

I also contribute to the following module run by UCL Geography:

URBNGO01- City, Space and Power

Academic Background
1998 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Planning studies University of London
1984 MSc Master of Science – Urban Planning University College London
1983 P.Grad Dip Postgraduate Diploma University College London
1981 BSc Hons Bachelor of Science (Honours) – Civil Engineering Universidad de los Andes
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