Malaysia, UK partnership to help build the cities of the future

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Sustainable urban environments are a key battleground in the fight against climate change.

By U2B Staff 

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Sustainable urban environments are a key battleground in the fight against climate change and reaching the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Goal 11 from the UN is to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” While great progress has been made on this front, there’s still a long way to go.

More than 1 billion people still live in slums and the vast majority of urban residents are forced to breathe poor-quality air, and have limited access to transport and open public spaces.

With the areas occupied by cities growing faster than their populations, there are profound repercussions for sustainability.


As the nature of cities continues to evolve and governments strive for sustainable urban environments, research into the sector is needed now more than ever. That is why Sunway University in Malaysia and Lancaster University in the UK have teamed up to establish the new Future Cities Research Institute (FCRI) to advance work on sustainable cities.

 “Our efforts at Sunway are driven by our recognition that realising the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure peace and prosperity for all, are not the sole responsibility of Governments. It requires the commitment of many areas — the private sector, academia, civil society, and, of course, every single individual. We are all in this together,” said Chancellor of Sunway University, Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah.

The pair have worked together since 2006, collaborating on degree programmes and developing an extensive catalogue of research. The new centre will expand on this, responding to the challenges facing urban environments and offering critical step-changes relevant to their context.


Taking a holistic approach, the research centre will take an interdisciplinary look at the subject matter and incorporate areas, such as design for healthy living, people-based infrastructure, night-time urban environments, and urban food security.

“We are now taking the Sunway Lancaster partnership into a new phase as we extend the collaboration very firmly into the area of research. The joint Future Cities Research Institute will focus on one of the biggest challenges facing mankind, namely how to make cities more livable and sustainable in the future,” said Vice-Chancellor of Sunway University, Professor Graeme Wilkinson.

It is predicted that by 2050 more than 80 percent of the population in Europe and North America and more than 60 percent of the population in Africa and Asia will live in cities, totaling around 6.7 billion people. It is therefore entirely fitting for us to choose the challenges of urbanisation to be the focus for our first joint research institute.”