4 Sep 2014
An injection of new resources and expertise

Professor Ralph Horne, incoming Cities Programme Director

A number of new people have joined the Cities Programme International Secretariat team and another key appointment is in the pipeline. This is a reflection of increased commitment from the secretariat host, RMIT and a renewed agreement with the United Nations Global Compact. Both organisations are committed to heightening the support to participant cities in their efforts to tackle critical urban issues and implement the ten principles of the UN Global Compact.

Professor Ralph Horne is the incoming Director of the Cities Programme and is leading this new phase of growth. Ralph is making a number of new appointments, building depth and diversity of expertise into the Cities Programme. Ralph’s expertise is in urban social and policy change for sustainable design and development. He has extensive experience of environmental techniques and sustainability appraisal and has a specific research interest in urban transitions, including socio-technical relations in the context of climate change and resource scarcity.

Global Compact Executive Director, Georg Kell recently welcomed Professor Horne to the Cities Programme saying “we are confident that his expertise and leadership can move the Cities Programme into its next phase of impact and growth.”

Professor Horne is excited about building this new team to support Global Compact participant cities. ” I look forward to us contributing to new collaborations and new solutions that improve the lives of urban dwellers across the world in tangible ways. I am delighted to accept this invitation to lead the Cities Programme through the next 5 years of expansion and development. ”

This next stage will see closer collaboration with the international community of the Global Compact, particularly Local Networks. Walid Nagi, Head of Local Networks at the Global Compact Office in New York has joined the Executive of the Cities Programme; with Natalia Uliana from the GC Local Networks team also supporting the Cities Programme’s work.

With time a range of urban specialists will be drawn into expertise leadership positions as the Programme builds specialisation around key issue areas. These issue platforms will include: urban resilience and adaptation; food, water and energy security; housing and poverty; governance and planning; and urban form and mobility.

New Staff

This new investment of considerable resources has been under the leadership of RMIT’s new Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation, Professor Calum Drummond . The University’s objective is to scale up efforts to tackle urban challenges around the world. Some great people have come on board to take on the challenge.

Helen Scott has recently taken up the position of Research Coordinator for the Cities Programme. She brings sustainability expertise and a diverse background in business, state and local government, not-for-profit and education sectors. Helen has significant international experience in city sustainability through her work with ICLEI.

Dr Tommaso Durante,  an award winning visual artist, and globalisation academic, has joined the Cities Programme as Visual Specialist. Tommaso brings his keen eye and world leading photography to this role with the Cities Programme and will freshen and align the Programme’s visual identity and communication. Tommaso is leading the establishment of a visual database of urban imagery which we hope will result in a digital exhibition in the near future. We encourage cities to contribute high quality images.

We are currently searching internationally for an Urbanist with strong research capability to join the Cities Programme. The newly created  Cities Development Research role will provide urban expertise to city participants and will facilitate an increase in urban research and knowledge across participant cities in promotion and adoption of the ten principles. The role will also network with academic and professional colleagues, locally and internationally, and draw together tools, resources and expertise. It is based in Melbourne, Australia. Contact Cities Programme Deputy Director if interested, elizabethryan@citiesprogramme.org

Some familiar faces have either returned, or extended their roles to support this next phase of growth and transition.

Felicity Cahill, recently in New York, is project managing the new Sustainable Cities publication. The Design and Layout is being led by Melissa Postma, who was the Communications Coordinator with the Global Cities Institute. 

Zulaikha Hussain Shihab is working as the Cities Programme Administrative Officer, she has city communication and website responsibilities.

Researcher, Sandra Moye is leading a sizeable new research project, a survey of all Global Compact participant cities.

Off to the Pacific

Julia Laidlaw has been with the Cities Programme since 2011 and is highly valued member of the Cities Programme team.  Originally inspired by the work of Milwaukee, Julia undertook a year long thesis on urban aquaponics in 2012. Her passionate advocacy for food sovereignty and urban agriculture has recently extended into local and international networks, reflected in the event she hosted at WUF7 and her role in the development of a Victorian food charter. Julia has recently taken up a 12 month position with INGO, Red Cross to work with communities in the Pacific Island of Vanuatu on resilience and food.

We eagerly await her return.