UNI is UN-Habitat’s network for academia/research partners. It changed to its current name (Habitat University Network Initiative, or UNI for short) in September 2013, prior to this it went under the name Habitat Partner University Initiative (HPUI).
The Habitat Partner University Initiative was piloted between 2008 and 2010. Engaging with universities and other stakeholders through the Habitat Partner University network, gains were to be made for cities, for universities and for UN-HABITAT. They include:
- For cities: Enhanced relevance of training and research on sustainable urban development, well and relevantly trained future practitioners.
- For Universities: More international exposure, increased cooperation with city actors, enhanced credibility of training and research offerings; laboratories for student and PhD work.
- For UN-HABITAT: Enhanced quantity and quality of research and training in sustainable urban development to underpin the implementation of the agency's vision of sustainable urbanization. Building a stronger network with universities and their partners is key for highlighting the challenges and solutions of rapid urbanization.
In 2010 an evaluation of the pilot phase of the Habitat Partner University Initiative was conducted. The evaluation was informed by universities around the globe and the university roundtable discussions during the World Urban Fora in Nanjing (WUF4, November 2008) and Rio de Janeiro (WUF5, March 2010), reports from the fora are to be found here and here
The resulting assessment report, entitled: "Operationalizing and Developing the Habitat Partner University Initiative" provided far reaching recommendations addressing relevance, governance structure, membership, resources, areas of work as well as priorities. An abridged version of the report is available here
The launch of the second phase of the Habitat Partner University Initiative was prepared from January 2011. In early 2011, an E-forum was set up to solicit the views of universities. Key issues of the future institutional setup and the core components of the Initiative were discussed Jan-Mar, 2011
Following the E-forum the first Global Meeting of the Habitat Partner University Initiative was held 16-18 May, 2011 to discuss the future institutional setup (governance, i.e. Steering Committee, secretariat, Terms of Reference; funding; membership criteria etc.) as well as the priority areas of the Initiative. The meeting resulted in the development of a Habitat Partner University Initiative Charter and Terms of Reference, outlining the main ideas as well as specific guidelines for the work of the Initiative.