New Year's Event: cities of the future


On Monday 30 January 2017 the VLIR-UOS New Year’s Event took place at BOZAR, Brussels. The topic of the afternoon was the significance of the city and what universities can do to make them sustainable. Professor Isa Baud shared her international experiences and rectors Pauwels and Van Goethem gave their view on sustainability and the role of the university.


NY-event 2017_Panel

(View the pictures)

Cities of/for the future

Cities worldwide are hubs for ideas, culture, commerce, science, productivity and social development. But at the same time cities are confronted with many challenges, like mobility problems, migration, inequality and unsafety. One of the Sustainable Development Goals, n° 11, focuses on cities and how to make them inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Can universities contribute to that sustainable city we are looking for? And what do we learn from urban development in the Global South? That were the main questions of the New Year’s Event.


About 175 guests gathered at BOZAR, including rectors, university policy makers, professors, researchers, university (college) staff, students, policy makers, institutions of the Belgian Development Cooperation and friends of VLIR-UOS.

Isa Baud: making our cities future-proof

NY-event_Isa BaudKeynote speaker Isa Baud focused on the significance of urban governance and knowledge management to tackle urban challenges such as poverty and pollution. Isa Baud is professor International Development Studies and member of the Centre for Urban Studies at the University of Amsterdam. She coordinated the EU-funded research project Chance2Sustain, in which she did research in ten cities in India, Brazil, South Africa and Peru, focusing on the use of digital spatial knowledge.


Isa Baud: ‘One of our main research results was to realize how crucial it is to build knowledge interactively for making cities future proof. Such inter-active knowledge building combines the knowledge of university researchers, planners, local communities, governments, and practitioners to produce solutions which are acceptable to the majority of those involved.’

I have a dream...

NY-event 2017_TrésorWe asked five researchers to imagine they were the director of their home city’s Urban Planning department. How would they transform their home city? We got interesting visions on how to create more pedestrian areas, how to integrate rivers in the city again, among other ideas. 

The researchers:


  • Parul Jarin (India), student of the Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning at KU Leuven
  • Carolina Tavares (Brazil), student of the Master of Urban Planning at KU Leuven
  • Claudia Lucia Rojas Bernal (Colombia), PhD researcher at KU Leuven Research Group Urbanism
  • Niels Dujouri, architect and former student at Hasselt University who went to Tanzania to do research on urban planning
  • Trésor Lumfuankenda (DR Congo), PhD researcher at l'Université Libre de Bruxelles and Ghent University

Sofa talks

Moderator John Vandaele (MO*) interviewed Caroline Pauwels, rector of the VUB, and Herman Van Goethem, rector of the University of Antwerp, on the link between the city and the university and what sustainability means for the university. 

The pictures

View the pictures of the event and the reception.

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