This above shows a panel on Financing and Implementing the SDGs at WUF10, organized by PwC’s Hazem Galal (center), to discuss climate finance initiatives. Pictured (left to right) Mauricio Rodas, immediate past Mayor, Quito, Ecuador and Penn IUR/Perry World House/Kleinman Center, Visiting Fellow; Victor Pineda, president, World Enabled and co-chair, General Assembly of Partners  (GAP) Persons with Disabilities Group; Alice Charles, Lead, Cities, Infrastructure & Urban Services, World Economic Forum; Hazem Galal, Cities and Local Government, Global Leader, PwC; Eugenie L. Birch, Nussdorf Professor and co-Director, Penn Institute for Urban Research; Nicolas Buchoud, Founding Principal, Renaissance Urbaine; Aziza Akhmouch, Head, Division on Cities, Urban Policies, and Sustainable Development, OECD.


Member Spotlight, February 2020

Member’s Name: Eugenie L. Birch
Member’s Position/Title: Lawrence C. Nussdorf Professor of Urban Research, co-Director, Penn Institute for Urban Research (PennIUR)
Organization: Weitzman School of Design and PennIUR
Organization Type: Research or academic institution


Tell us about your organization and its goals.

The Penn Institute for Urban Research (PennIUR), a university-wide subsidiary of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA, is dedicated to advancing cross-disciplinary, urban-focused research, instruction, and civic engagement on issues relevant to cities around the world. As the global population becomes increasingly urban, understanding cities is vital to informed decision-making and public policy at the local, national, and international levels.


What activities/initiatives related to cities climate finance are you currently engaged in or planning?

Working with Mauricio Rodas, the immediate past mayor of Quito, Ecuador, we created and delivered a new class, “Introduction to International Development: Financing Cities,” open to advanced undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania. Among the enrollees are students from city planning, architecture, and historic preservation from the Weitzman School of Design and students from the Huntsman Program in  International Studies from the Wharton School. The students have produced a draft Climate Resilient Infrastructure Finance Taxonomy, and launched a pilot website with PennIUR Researchers.

Mauricio Rodas and I are also leading a research initiative around the City Climate-Resilient Infrastructure Finance involving faculty and researchers in three university centers, PennIUR, Perry World House (international center) and the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy.  This initiative has two parts:

  1. Additional detailing of the Climate-Resilient Finance Taxonomy
  2. Initiated the creation of mayors’ guidance effort to provide advice on preparations to work with project facilitation facilities with a pilot study in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and plans for two others – one in Latin America and a second in Asia – to detail conditions in other regions

We have publicized this work in various convenings and among different groups. For example, we discussed it at the World Urban Forum 10 in Abu Dhabi in February. We have also shared it with the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization in its regular meetings, and will present it at the council’s meeting at MIT in April. We have also shared it with the planning committee for the U-20 convening to take place next October. We are currently planning a convening in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance to discuss the results of the research projects (tentatively on 24 April 2020).


 How can other Alliance members learn about your work and cooperate with you?

In addition to the activities/initiatives discussed above, we are also open to providing short written briefs to Alliance members, engaging in video conferences, and so forth.


How do you stay informed about city-level climate finance and related subjects?

Being an academic enterprise, we have assigned a PennIUR researcher to monitor publications, meetings and any other sources of information. We also stay informed by regularly engaging conversations/interviews with other Alliance members and by attending relevant international meetings.


What does PennIUR hope to gain from the Alliance?

PennIUR seeks to share its knowledge with others working in the field of city climate finance. We also hope to gain insights from others, especially practitioners who have much to offer academic researchers.


What does PennIUR expect to bring to the Alliance?

PennIUR can offer research, convening power, and student interns. We have access to faculty expertise in Penn’s 12 schools, especially the Weitzman School of Design (Architecture, City Planning, Historic Preservation, Fine Arts, Landscape Architecture and Urban Spatial Analytics), and the Wharton School of Business (Finance, Real Estate and other business-related areas).




Find out more about PennIUR.