The University of Lincoln has become part of a select group of institutions to hold partner status with a pioneering United Nations programme, opening the door for staff and students to engage with humanitarian projects around the globe.

The United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-HABITAT) is the agency for human settlements that is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities, with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.

As part of a new UN-HABITAT University Network Initiative, staff and students from the University of Lincoln will now have access to unique research opportunities and UN resources. They will also have the opportunity to collaborate with international organisations on a number of UN-HABITAT programmes, which are specifically designed to help policy-makers and local communities tackle important issues surrounding human settlements and urban living.

Lincoln is one of just a handful of universities in the UK to achieve partner status, and to celebrate there will be an introductory event on Monday 7th October 2013, which also marks World Habitat Day. The event will be hosted in the University of Lincoln’s EMMTEC Lecture Theatre, where an evening of expert talks and networking will take place from 6pm – 8pm.

Professor Hugh Byrd, Professor of Architecture at the University of Lincoln, led the application to be part of the UN-HABITAT University Network Initiative. He said: “On World Habitat Day, governments, universities, voluntary organisations and local communities around the globe will reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and the basic right of all to adequate shelter. 

The day is intended to remind the world that we all have a responsibility to shape the future of our towns and cities, and I feel that this offers an ideal occasion to introduce the fantastic opportunities open to staff and students here at Lincoln. Now that we are a UN-HABITAT Partner University, there is more opportunity than ever before to engage in international collaborations that will deliver valuable research and funding, and above all, make a difference in the world.”

At the University of Lincoln’s World Habitat Day event, academics from a variety of disciplines will deliver short presentations on their experiences of human settlements around the world.

Professor Byrd, who was part of the team commissioned to shape the rebuild of Christchurch in New Zealand following the devastating earthquakes of 2011, will present “The Upside Down World of Humanitarian Aid in the South Pacific”, illustrating the problems of humanitarian work after a disaster.

Dr Lucy Easthope will also discuss her research into disasters, under the topic “Research into Active Practice: Reflections of a Disaster Response Researcher”. Dr Easthope is an expert in mass fatality disasters, having advised governments, corporations and relief agencies in the aftermath of major incidents, including the Christchurch earthquakes and the Bali terrorist attacks.

Dr Carl O’Coill will deliver a presentation entitled “The Missionary Position”, which questions the role that international development NGOs play in improving the conditions of informal settlements. Dr O’Coill has conducted research into voluntary organisations in Africa and India over the past 15 years.

The evening will also reveal how University of Lincoln researchers across all disciplines can become involved in international networks, conferences, publications and bids for funding, in diverse fields such as governance, climate change, sanitation, gender issues, energy and food.

For more information on UN-HABITAT and the University Network Initiative