UN-HABITAT and the University British Columbia have announced a partnership to create the UBC / UN-HABITAT Archives which will be the world's most complete online repository of information on building sustainable cities.
In a statement read on her behalf, UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka said she was delighted to learn that the Vancouver-based university had taken initiative to build a virtual human settlements information centre containing critical print and electronic material from Habitat’s first conference held in1976 up to and including the 2006 World Urban Forum III both of which took place in Vancouver.
The resulting web-based UBC / UN-HABITAT Archive will provide an invaluable resource for learning, teaching and practice on our towns and cities locally, nationally, and globally, she observed.
"Rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, economies and the environment is one of the most pressing issues facing the world today," said UBC President Stephen J. Toope. "UBC's leadership in urban planning will contribute to this important and timely endeavor."
With the partnership, researchers from UBC's Centre for Human Settlements (CHS) will curate the UN agency's more than 50-year multimedia collection of research and expertise on urban issues.
The online portal will give governments, urban planners, developers, acadenics and others access to sustainable solutions to all aspects of urban life, including housing, transportation, infrastructure, resources management, land tenure, governance and climate change.
In time, the ongoing project will feature several thousand items, including a unique collection of 2,000 videos accumulated since UN-HABITAT 1976. "These materials can show us how to improve the liveability and economic viability of the world's communities,” said UBC Professor Emeritus Peter Oberlander, inaugural director of CHS. "The UBC/UN-Habitat Archives addresses this gap between knowledge and action, by bringing together tested urban knowledge, practical experience, and current research."
CHS, a unit within UBC's School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP), was established as a legacy of HABITAT I, the 1976 UN Conference on Human Settlements in Vancouver, and was a key participant and sponsor of HABITAT III, the 2006 UN-HABITAT World Urban Forum in Vancouver.
The centre houses students who conduct multi-disciplinary research and capacity-building programmes related to regional, urban, and community development. In 1990, CHS was designated a Canadian International Development Agency “Centre of Excellence.”
“For example, a municipal clerk in Kumasi, Ghana, instructed to introduce water metering can now access the UN’s best practices on this subject to help ensure accessible and equitable water distribution,” said Prof. Oberlander, who also founded the Centre for Community Planning at Ghana’s University of Science and Technology.
The UBC/UN-Habitat Archives is made possible with USD 20,000 in seed-funding from the British Columbia Real Estate Foundation.
A pilot version of the portal, with nearly 500 books, videos, magazines, pamphlets, websites and other materials, is available at: www.chs.ubc.ca/archives. In time, the ongoing project will feature several thousands of such items, including a unique collection of 2,000 videos accumulated since the 1976 Habitat I conference. After setting up a free account, users can browse subjects by topic, year, agency, country, and media type.