Category Archives: Other news

Lent Term LSE Cities Seminars: The Emotional Life of the City

15 January 2019

The Emotional Life of the Cities seminars are expert led discussions hosted by LSE Cities and open to all both within and beyond the LSE Community. They are held in the LSE Cities seminar room 8.01H from 12.00-13.30 with lunch provided. 

This seminar series thinks in critical as much as creative terms about the place of extreme emotional life in the city. Gesturing toward a tradition of urban observation that extends back to the likes of Flora Tristan and Walter Benjamin and reaches forward to writers such as Rebecca Solnit and Teju Cole, seminars will provide lively, incisive commentary willing to experiment, formally as well as methodologically. If you would like to attend any of the seminars please RSVP to

The speakers and dates for the Lent Term Seminars are as follows:

January 17 2019, 12.00pm – 1.30pm

Dr Ruth Raynor (Newcastle University)

March 21, 12.00pm – 1.30pm

Dr Thomas Jellis (Oxford University)

May 2, 12.00pm – 1.30pm

Dr Lauren Elkin (Liverpool University)

For more information please contact

Ricky Burdett interviewed by CityLab on shaping cities

7 June 2018

Ricky Burdett, Director of LSE Cities and Urban Age, was interviewed by CityLab’s Feargus O’Sullivan on the The Hidden Forces That Shape Cities. Commenting on how cities change, Burdett said: “Too many designers think about the reality of the built environment at one moment in time—that you create an instant city.” The article was published ahead of Burdett delivering the keynote address at reSITE 2018 on 14 June 2018.

Julia King to chair public event on Citymakers: The Culture and Craft of Practical Urbanism

4 December 2017

Julia King, Research Fellow at LSE Cities, will chair “Citymakers: The Culture and Craft of Practical Urbanism” on 5 December at the London School of Economics. The event will launch Cassim Shepard’s new book, in which he offers a cross-disciplinary approach to understanding the contemporary city that focuses on emerging principles practiced by a diverse group of “citymakers” including landscape designers, housing advocates, hackers, architects, ecologists, community organisers, activists, artists, and more.

Philipp Rode to chair NYU transport panel

16 October 2017

Philipp Rode, Executive Director at LSE Cities, will chair a panel on 17 October at NYU School of Law. ‘Better Transport Makes Better Cities: Tales from the Trenches’, led by the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy and free to attend, focuses on how cities are stepping up with new strategies to improve access to walking, cycling and public transit infrastructure. The event is in partnership with Transportation Alternatives100 Resilient Cities, and Vital Strategies.

New LSE Cities report launch on urban uncertainty

8 June 2017

Projections of uncertain futures pervade public and political debates around the world. The Urban Uncertainty report explored this in the context of an LSE Cities research project led by Austin Zeiderman from 2012 to 2015. The research team, which included Sobia Ahmad Kaker, Jonathan Silver and Astrid Wood, incorporated anthropology, geography, politics and planning to focus on the environment, security, infrastructure and transportation in Latin America, Africa and Asia. It aimed to conceptualise uncertainty and better understand how, and with what effects, uncertainty interacts with and shapes urban life. The report launch involved a presentation of the project’s key findings by three of the lead researchers, commentary by Adriana Allen and a panel discussion chaired by Ricky Burdett.

Ricky Burdett speaks at CityLab 2016 in Miami

25 October 2016

On October 24, CityLab 2016 hosted a talk in Miami by LSE Cities Director Ricky Burdett on the India Smart Cities Challenge. Discussing the growing threat posed by uncontrolled urban sprawl, Professor Burdett outlined global urban trends and the role of innovation in addressing future environmental, social and economic problems. Drawing on the work of LSE Cities and Bloomberg Philanthropies in supporting and studying the Indian government’s Smart Cities Mission, he highlighted examples from a variety of Indian cities speaking to citizen engagement, competition, innovation and local agency. LSE Cities has previously worked with Bloomberg on the European Mayors Challenge.

Paris COP21 Special Feature | LSE Cities work on climate change and the environment

3 December 2015

On the occasion of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21), LSE Cities highlights some of its most relevant research and outreach around climate change, the green economy and cities, supporting the evidence base on why cities are increasingly central in efforts to reduce global carbon emissions. 

Confronting Climate Change: can cities be the solution?
An Urban Age public lecture at LSE with Nicholas Stern, Karen Seto, Bruce Katz and Philipp Rode, Tessa Jowell (chair).
19 November 2015

In the run-up to the Paris Climate Conference (COP21), this debate highlighted the fundamental role that cities can play in reducing global energy demand and limiting carbon emissions. It challenged national and international decision-makers and institutions to recognise that action at the metropolitan level can have a direct impact on the health and environmental stability of the planet, as well as promoting green jobs and social equity.

Cities and the New Climate Economy: the Transformative Role of Global Urban Growth
A paper by Graham Floater, Philipp Rode, Alexis Robert, Chris Kennedy, Dan Hoornweg, Roxana Slavcheva, Nick Godfrey. November 2014
Urbanisation is one of the most important drivers of productivity and growth in the global economy. If managed well, the potential benefits of this urban growth are substantial. However, poorly managed urban growth is likely to have substantial economic costs. This paper explores the potential of the 3C model (Compact urban growth; Connected infrastructure; and Coordinated governance) to maximise the
benefits of urban growth while minimising the costs in Emerging Cities, Global Megacities and Mature Cities, and we review examples of cities where elements of the model have already been implemented.

Steering Urban Growth: Governance, Policy and Finance
A paper by Graham Floater, Philipp Rode, Bruno Friedel, Alexis Robert.
November 2014

The pace of global urbanisation is one of the greatest challenges that governments face in the 21st century. This raises an important question for policy makers: how can governments manage the growth of cities to capture the benefits of productivity and growth, while reducing the costs of urban poverty, pollution and carbon emissions? This paper develops the argument that cities and national governments can develop an urban strategy based on the principles of the 3C model while retaining the flexibility to tailor its implementation to local circumstances.

Accessibility in Cities: Transport and Urban Form
A paper by Philipp Rode, Graham Floater, Nikolas Thomopoulos, James Docherty, Peter Schwinger, Anjali Mahendra, Wanli Fang.
November 2014

This paper focusses on one central aspect of urban development: transport and urban form and how the two shape the provision of access to people, goods and services, and information in cities. The more efficient this access, the greater the economic benefits through economies of scale, agglomeration effects and networking advantages.

Analysis of Public Policies that Unintentionally Encourage and Subsidize Urban Sprawl
A paper by Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute.
November 2014

This report investigates evidence that current development policies result in economically excessive sprawl. It defines sprawl and its alternative, “smart growth,” describes various costs and benefits of sprawl, and estimates their magnitude. It identifies policy distortions that encourage sprawl, which mostly have direct benefits to sprawled community residents, while many costs are external, imposed on non-residents.

Better Growth, Better Climate.
The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.
September 2014

LSE Cities led the work for the cities chapter of the New Climate Economy Report.

Going Green: How cities are leading the next economy
A global survey and case studies of cities building the green economy | Final report
This is the concluding report of LSE Cities major global survey of 90 city governments and a case study analysis of innovative green strategies in eight cities. The survey was conducted by LSE Cities, ICLEI – local governments for sustainability and the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), in order to closely analyse the strengths and weaknesses of cities as key contributors to the emerging green economy. Previous editions of this report were prepared for the Rio+20 summit in June 2012 and for the Global Green Growth Forum in Copenhagen in October 2012.

Better Growth, Better Climate: cities and the new climate economy.
An LSE Cities public lecture at LSE with Graham Floater, Philipp Rode, Dimitri Zenghelis.
29 January 2015

This event is structured around research for the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and the cities workstream of the Commission’s New Climate Economy (NCE) project which LSE Cities is leading. The overall aim of NCE is to provide independent and authoritative evidence on the relationship between actions which can strengthen economic performance and those which reduce the risk of dangerous climate change.

Adaptive publics: the politics of climate change in Bogotá
An article by Austin Zeiderman.
October 2015
Austin Zeiderman writes on the potential for the adaptation agenda in Bogotá to stimulate progressive climate politics elsewhere.

Towards New Urban Mobility: The case of London and Berlin
A report by Philipp Rode, Christian Hoffman, Jens Kandt, Duncan Smith, Andreas Graf.
September 2015
This report provides insight into how urban transport policy can better leverage new and emerging mobility choices in cities by investigating how people’s attitudes towards transport modes, technology and travel frame their willingness to adopt new and more sustainable forms of transport.

Going Green: how cities are building the next economy.
A keynote presentation by Philipp Rode at FutureBuilt.
3 June 2015

Philipp Rode delivered a presentation on ‘Going green: How cities are leading the next economy’ in the session on ‘The City as a Catalyst for Green Growth’ at the Future Built 2015 annual Conference in Oslo, Norway. This took place on Wednesday 3 June and focused on the benefit of climate friendly architecture and urban development as well as how cities can be catalysts for smart, green growth.

Cities and the New Climate Economy: The Role of Urban Form and Transport.
A keynote presentation by Philipp Rode at the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
9 March 2015

It has been repeatedly argued that cities have a unique opportunity to build a different model of economic growth – one that achieves the benefits of growth but with significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions alongside benefits such as improved health. This will require a focus on actions that are systematically important for how cities function including decisions around urban form, city design and transport. Philipp Rode shares the research conducted for the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

Cities and climate change.
An LSE Cities public lecture at LSE with Joan Clos and Tony Travers on the 28 March 2011
Urban areas will have to play an increasingly important role as part of strategies addressing global climate change: due to their wealth, they disproportionately contribute to global carbon emissions. At the same time, dense, compact cities have repeatedly shown to be far more carbon efficient than other settlement types of similar affluence. Joan Clos, United Nations Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-HABITAT examined climate change in an urban context and discussed UN Habitat’s new Global Report on Human Settlements: Cities and Climate Change.

Want cheap energy bills? Move to a city
Philipp Rode in The Guardian.
21 May 2014

New research shows that the compact, taller buildings typical of inner-city areas are often the most heat-energy efficient.

Cities and Energy: Urban Morphology and Heat Energy Demand
A report by Philipp Rode, Christian Keim, Guido Robazza, Pablo Viejo and James Schofield.
March 2014

This research report focuses on heat energy efficiencies created by the spatial configuration of cities and is based on the identification of the five most dominant residential building typologies in each of the four largest European cities: London, Paris, Berlin and Istanbul.

Climate change: the city solution.
An LSE Cities public lecture at LSE with Ritt Bjerregaard on Tuesday 1 June 2010
As mayor of Copenhagen, Ritt Bjerregaard presided over a number of pioneering initiatives – including promoting cycling and low emissions zones – which help demonstrate how cities can provide solutions to global challenges such as climate change.

Cities, design and climate change.
An LSE Cities public lecture at LSE with Richard Sennett and Saskia Sassen on Tuesday 17 November 2009
With cities contributing disproportionatly to global carbon emissions, urban design is increasingly important when planning for climate change. This discussion examines the social, political and economic impacts of creative urban design solutions coming out of the world’s cities.

UNEP Green Economy report (buildings chapter)
Philipp Rode, Ricky Burdett, Joana Carla Soares Gonçalves,  Ludger Eltrop, Duygu Erten, Jose Goldemberg, Andreas Koch, Tom Paladino, Brinda Viswanathan, Gavin Blyth.
November 2011

LSE Cities was coordinating author on the ‘Buildings’ and ‘Cities’ chapters of Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication, a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme. The report challenges the myth of a trade-off between environmental investments and economic growth, and makes central the roles of cities in an emerging ‘green’ economy.

UNEP Green Economy report (cities chapter)
Philipp Rode, Ricky Burdett, Joana Carla Soares Gonçalves, Edgar Pieterse, Brinda Viswanathan, Geetam Tiwari, Dimitri Zenghelis, Debra Lam, Xin Lu.
November 2011

LSE Cities was coordinating author on the ‘Buildings’ and ‘Cities’ chapters of Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication, a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme. The report challenges the myth of a trade-off between environmental investments and economic growth, and makes central the roles of cities in an emerging ‘green’ economy.





Graham Floater and Helia Costa chair session at the European Climate Change Adaptation Conference 2015

13 May 2015

LSE Cities Graham Floater and Helia Costa chaired a session on ‘Economic Costs and Benefits of Climate Adaptation in Cities’ at the European Climate Change Adaptation Conference 2015 , which took place on the 13 May in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The second European Climate Change Adaptation conference (ECCA), is an initiative of the European Commission and focused on ‘Integrating climate adaptation action in science, policy, practitioners, and business’. It was co-organised by the RAMSES, BASE and TopDad projects.

Thought Leadership: India’s Infrastructure Democracy

27 November 2014

Savvas Verdis

I have just come back from Delhi, where I attended LSE Cities’ Urban Age conference on the future of urban governance. How ready are India’s cities for the mass wave of urbanisation that is going to take place in the country? Unsurprisingly, such expansion will require big infrastructure investment in the 500 or so cities that the government is planning to expand or to create from scratch. My feeling is that this big infrastructure spending is going to concentrate power centrally, whereas there is a big opportunity to incentivise cities in what I call an ‘Infrastructure Democracy’.

First, some facts. India will need to spend over $1.2 trillion over the next 20 years, expanding its cities and building entirely new ones to house the over 250 million people that it is expecting to move into urban areas according to an influential McKinsey report. Most of these cities will lie along so-called corridors of heavy infrastructure investment. A former minister for industry told me last week that India is finally embarking on its long overdue labour-intensive industrialisation process and that the corridors will be one of the main vehicles to achieving this. The aim is to develop these corridors in an efficient and equitable way. Below are two ways that these corridors can be structured financially and legally so that the benefits are spread to all participating cities.

Pool your funds: Only last week, India launched in London its first ‘Massala Bond’ of $2 billion linking international savings to India’s infrastructure investment. Coupled with the bond market, India will be tapping into sovereign wealth funds and development bank investments. The Delhi-Mumbai corridor is tied for example to Japanese development funds. The money is there and the longer the global economy is providing low yields elsewhere, the infrastructure sector will continue to flourish. If Prime Minister Modi’s enthusiasm of a new infrastructure finance hub in Sydney announced at the G20 last week, is to go by, he will be looking for more FDI for even more corridors. My concern with this model is that it does not fully explore the great work that India has done on pooled city bonds, which is a way of bringing smaller cities together in raising necessary finance for infrastructure projects. The current model is over-centralised – with the national government doing most of the revenue generation. This may be quicker to implement but the opportunity to financially motivate the smaller cities in the corridors to make the right decisions is crucial. They need to bear the benefits or costs if these projects fail. Becoming part of a pooled bond that spreads the risk between larger and smaller cities is an incentive for team work. There is another element here. These corridors can push India’s economic policy either along the German or the English industrial model. Go down the German model, and smaller competitive cities will play a key role in the value chains of major productions centres along the corridors – think of the Mittelsdant. Go the English model and smaller cities get inundated from a London-like powerhouse. It is better for cities to do the positioning themselves rather than central government doing it for them. Being major shared debt holders for the project will incentivise good planning between these centres. Of course this will need to be balanced with the greater level of municipal debt that is going to exist in cities but this will also force them to build less white elephants.

Don’t fall in the land trap: Corridors, such as the Delhi-Mumbai link are land intensive beasts. The business as usual delivery model involves an agency such as a development corporation doing the land acquisition often by compulsory purchase order. This is easier on empty green land but more difficult on land with formal and informal tenures that is heavily politicised. All too often this results in a high level of displacement of households and businesses. Households and businesses should be given some choice here. Firstly, planners should purchase land at the periphery of project areas so that the relocation happens locally and that important social networks are not broken. If the relocation is even further away, planners need to integrate them on the new infrastructure networks. Because the corridors are being laid out now – land needs to be allocated for any resettlement along these routes and not in disconnected areas. Finally, allow households and firms to play the real estate game. Rather than simply using eminent domain, give them the option of owning a share of freehold of the corridor land. Leasehold proceeds can then flow to a larger pool of stakeholders.

The two lines of thought above are a way of redistributing both the benefits and the costs of India’s new urban corridors. Less emphasis on the central state and development corporations and more emphasis on connecting firms, households and cities through legal and financial structures so that the rewards of urbanisation are shared. These will empower Indian cities, that have long been playing catch up, but only if they are networked in these corridors effectively.

Networking cities in such a way creates a new type of regional democracy. Let’s not forget that this is exactly how democracy kick-started under Cleisthenes some 2,500 years ago. Cleisthenes, basically thought that to really create a balanced democracy he had to mix villages with different economic output together. This meant taking a village from the plains, shores and mountains of the Athens region with very different crop productivity yields to create a political entity. There were around 10 such political entities that made up the ‘Athenian people’. These entities had no administrative boundaries to avoid NIMBYism, but they had to work together for the common benefit. Infrastructure democracy can play a similar role. Here are different cities in India that will be part of a value chain heavily influenced by these corridors – some will be lower, some will be higher in that value chain. The point is to mix them in such a way that they reap the benefits fairly. Of course, one cannot plan value chains. Firms will break off from less profitable roots and seek others nationally and globally. Infrastructure democracy, tying cities from a financial and legal sense at the point of design – means that revenues will at least be flowing to lagging areas because of their original contracts. The central government started the process but it should let these corridors of cities take central responsibility for this type of redistribution to continue.

Savvas Verdis is Senior Research Fellow at LSE Cities and an Infrastructure Economist at Siemens