The Development Planning Unit conducts world-leading research and postgraduate teaching that helps to build the capacity of national governments, local authorities, NGOs, aid agencies and businesses working towards socially just and sustainable development in the global south.
We are part of The Bartlett: UCL's global faculty of the built environment.
Adriana Allen is a Senior Lecturer at the The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL, where she teaches in the MSc in Environment and Sustainable Development and leads the DPU Research Cluster on Environmental Justice, Urbanisation and Resilience (EJUR).
Originally trained as an architect and urban planner in Argentina, my native country, I specialised over the years in the fields of urban environmental planning and political ecology. I have over 25 years international experience in research and consultancy undertakings in over 17 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Both as an academic and practitioner, my work focuses on the interface between development and environmental concerns in the urban context of the global south, and more specifically on fostering transformative links between environmental justice and urban sustainability and resilience.
Over the years, I have worked for several national and international organisations, including the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), UN-Habitat, WaterAid, Department for International Development (DFID/UK), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC), Plan Construction et Architecture du Ministere de l'Equipement (France), IberoAmerican Cooperation Institute (ICI / Spain), The European Commission (EC) and Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIC, Belgium). In-country research, training and advisory assignments include: Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mexico, South Africa, Tanzania, Uruguay and Venezuela. Within Europe, she has undertaken research assignments in Spain, The Netherlands and the UK.
I am a Visiting Professor at various universities in Latin America and acted a beacon member for the 2006 IV World Water Forum cross-cutting perspective dealing with institutional development and political processes in water provision. I am also co-editor of the International Journal of Sustainable Urban Development and a regular reviewer for Urban Studies, Cities, Local Environment, Human Ecology and Natural Resources Forum, among other international academic journals.
Within UCL, I currently support a number a university-wide initiatives in the theme of urban sustainability and resilience, which include my role as the Environment Institute Co-Director for Sustainable Cities; member of the Advisory Committee of the Institute for Sustainable Resources and Energy Institutes and formerly Urban Laboratory Co-director in ‘Social cohesion, urban infrastructure and the public realm. In addition, I am a member of the UCL-The Lancet Commission on Managing the Health Effects of Climate Change and of the UCL Grand Challenges of Sustainable Cities (GCSC) Executive Group.
My research interests span across the following areas of intellectual inquiry:
Production, reproduction and transformation of urban environmental (in)justices
Through the articulation of an urban political ecology and regulation theory perspective, my work looks at the interface between insurgent practices and planned interventions and their capacity to generate transformative spaces, places and social relations.
Citizenship and the governance of service provision
Current gaps in service provision for the urban poor require more than technical solutions, my work in this area looks in particular at questions of hydric justice and the scope of service co-production to deliver not just improved access to basic services such as water and sanitation but above all to forge mechanisms for inclusive citizenship.
Resilience, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change
Calls for and actual responses to climate variability in the urban global south are prompting new debates on the way in which concomitant challenges are socially constructed by scientists, governments and citizens, who should respond to them and how and who is worst affected and why. Part of my current work examines these questions by focusing on the current gaps and potential synergy between grassroots and planning local responses that situate climate variability in the context of fast urbanisation and informality.
Rural-urban linkages for reciprocal urbanisation
The so-called ‘urban transitions’ faced by the global south today are underlined by emerging geographies of capitalist accumulation through unequal peri-urbanisation and truncated rural-urban linkages. My work in this area explores how and why such geographies are increasingly being shaped under conditions of ‘differential sustainability’ or, in other words, by adjusting thresholds to meet the needs and wants of certain privileged social groups and territories at the expense of others.