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International joint program

UNESCO Chair on Sustainability

Urban adaptation to resilient futures in informal settlements

Informal settlements constitute one of the main engines of urban development in the Latin American cities. For example, in the case of Bogota, Colombia, they are the origin of at least 40% of the urban area of ​​the city. 

Studying urban development in informal settlements requires recognizing informal dynamics as part of emerging sustainable solutions that facilitate urban functionality across human, natural, and political processes. Adaptation includes questions of transformation in the forms and processes of planning at the level of the municipality, the state, and the various communities of interest.

The complexity of these urban landscapes stems from a combination of their social multiplicity (in terms of race, age, origin, culture, etc.), the different power interests at play (land speculation, trafficking of arms, people, drugs, formal versus informal rules and codes of conduct, etc.), and the uniqueness of their physical geography (topography, fluvial, ecological processes, etc.). From these human social, political and physiographic perspectives, adaptation strategies should recognize and support the heterogeneity of the landscape, rather than apply a homogenous approach to the administration of informal settlements as urban structures.

From this emerges an orientation for adaptation as a mechanism of transformation of degraded urban landscapes, building an understanding of agency through complexity, to advance new processes of use, care, administration, management, governance, and social change.

Relevant documents of the process



A document presenting a detailed overview of the UREx Sustainability Research Network, a project supported by the National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency of the United States of America


Landscape & territory

A document presenting the academical programs and resources offered by the research network on landscape and territory at the University La Salle, the host institution of our program in Bogotá, Colombia

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Growing resilience

An audiovisual piece produced to visualise a process of community resilience and integral governance, to recover an urban degraded landscape in the informal settlements of Bogotá, Colombia 

Explore antecedents, relevant documents, bibliography, audiovisual material, and further information being produced along the development of the program 

Supported by:
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Recycling the City Network
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Plattform of People Affected by Risk and Ressetlement 
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