IBA Karachi faculty member selected from Pakistan to lead GCRF Urban Violence & Climate Change Network

Lahore (Muhammad Yasir) Karachi Urban Lab Director and IBA, Karachi Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts Professor Dr. Nausheen H Anwar has been chosen as the Pakistan lead of one of 20 international networks launched by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to tackle challenges in the developing world.

Dr. Anwar is working with world-leading collaborators investigating the links between violence and climate change in marginalised city communities. The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Urban Violence and Climate Change Network is being led by Dr. Anwar in collaboration with the UK lead Dr. Arabella Fraser from School of Geography, Nottingham University. The networks, supported by the UK’s GCRF, bring together UK researchers with collaborators from across the developing world to share expertise and find solutions.

The GCRF award will allow Dr. Fraser, Dr. Anwar and their colleagues to build a network of critical researchers from multiple disciplines. The network will create a platform for debate as well as sponsoring new research projects to take off in ways that can inform current day policy needs.

The project is bringing together two research communities – those working on violence reduction and those on adapting to climate change, to understand these links in greater depth, and work with practitioners to find solutions to improve urban environments to be safer and more sustainable.

Dr. Anwar’s research looks at the power-laden forms of climate adaptation, planning and sustainability practices and policies in Pakistan, with a focus on the dynamics of water security and gender, and the violent logics of urban planning that exacerbate inequality and deepen vulnerability. “We are living in exceptional times today as we witness the Covid-19 pandemic unfold amidst the crises of planetary, ecological, and social health. This, combined with the ongoing austerity measures, suggests that for ordinary citizens the new normal is a permanent state of crisis. In urban Pakistan, the temporariness of work and housing, decaying infrastructures and exposure to institutional and political violence, have altogether made people’s lives extraordinarily difficult. With more and more people heading for cities in search of a better life, we need to urgently address the question of how to plan inclusive cities and build healthier and happy communities.”

Dr. Fraser’s research looks at how to build social resilience to climate change in the most marginalised urban communities. “Climate change and violence are growing development challenges, both in regions that are rapidly urbanising and those that have predominantly urbanised. Both negatively affect lives, livelihoods, health, and productivity. We hope that by exploring innovations to reduce the multiple risks that people are facing (and which will include COVID risks and associated responses), we can support efforts towards safer and more secure cities for the most marginalised.”

Dr. Fraser said, “This is an outstanding opportunity to build relationships with stellar urban researchers and policy communities across the world to develop a new research agenda, including my incredible and passionate colleagues at the Karachi Urban Lab, who direct the network”.

The network currently has 15 partners in South America, the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the UK. Further details can be found on https://www.ukri.org/news/networks-launched-to-identify-solutions-to-global-challenges/.