Aromar Revi, Director, Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), Bangalore, India

Aromar Revi

Aromar Revi is the founding Director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS). For over a decade, he has helped built IIHS into one of the world’s leading urban education, research, capacity building and advisory institutions located in the Global South, focusing on the multi-dimensional challenges and opportunities of sustainable urbanisation.

He is an alumnus of IIT-Delhi and the Law and Management schools of the University of Delhi. He is an international educator, practice and thought leader, with 33 years of interdisciplinary experience in public policy and governance, sustainable development, human settlements, global environmental and technological change. Aromar is amongst the most cited urban scholars in the world across multiple fields, with over 75 publications and 8,000 citations: urbanisation (#6), climate adaptation (#4), infrastructure (#8), sustainable development (#24), and public policy (#48) . He is the Editor of the interdisciplinary international journal Urbanisation (Sage) and on the editorial Boards of the International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development (Taylor & Francis), Urban Climate (Elsevier) and Nature Sustainable Earth (Springer-BMC).

Aromar is a global expert on implementing Sustainable Development; and Co-Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), where he led a successful global campaign for an urban Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 11) as part of the UN’s 2030 development agenda, which brought major global urban institutions and over 300 cities and organisations together. He has addressed special sessions of the UN Open Working Group on the SDGs and the 71st General Assembly special session on the New Urban Agenda on the theme of Sustainable Cities, in 2014 and 2017.

Aromar’s recent research and policy work lie at the interface of sustainability and climate science; and the emerging discipline of ‘urban science’, that he is helping define internationally. He is a member of the UCL-Nature Sustainability Expert Panel on urban research and global sustainability. In 2016, curated by him, UNSDSN & the SDG Academy launched the first 75-session global Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Sustainable Cities & SDG 11, featuring 30 of the world’s leading urbanists. Over 10,000 participants from 110 countries registered for this course.

Aromar is one of the world’s leading experts on global environmental change, especially climate change. He is a Coordinating Lead Author of the 2018 IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C that will define potential implementation pathways for the Paris Climate accord. He was earlier a Coordinating Lead Author of the IPCC Assessment Report 5 on Urban Areas that established the role of cities and regions in addressing climate risks. He is a co-PI of a large international Climate Adaptation Research Programme that spans India and Africa.

He is one of South Asia’s most experienced risk and disaster management professionals having led teams to plan & execute rehabilitation programmes for ten major earthquake, cyclone and flood events affecting over 5 million people; and was a member of the Advisory Board of UNISDR’s Scientific & Technical Advisory Group (STAG) and its bi-annual Global Assessment of Risk, from 2008.

Aromar is a member of the Managing Board of Cities Alliance, the global partnership for sustainable cities and urban poverty reduction. He has been a long-standing Board member of the Balaton Group that pioneered the development of sustainability. He was a Fellow of the India China Institute at the New School University, where he worked on long-range development pathways for the two countries.

He has been a senior advisor to multiple ministries of the Government of India, since the late 1980s; and has consulted with a wide range of international development institutions, national and transnational firms on economic, environmental and social change at global, regional and urban scales. This includes extensive in-country and regional experience across key UN, multilateral and bilateral agencies.

He has also led and managed sensitive multi-stakeholder political and development negotiations. The most recent was for the Government of India, in 2014, as a member of the Sivaramakrishnan Committee, around the demarcation of the erstwhile state Andhra Pradesh. Over a four month period, Aromar Revi led a complex process of structuring a $ 75 billion investment plan for infrastructure and development across all districts and cities; helped identify options for a new state capital and conducted stakeholder negotiations and public consultations across the state.

Aromar Revi has made significant contributions to human settlements development in India, for which he was elected an Ashoka Fellow in 1990. This includes a key role in the design of India’s national public housing programme that facilitates the building of over 2 million rural houses a year; infrastructure planning, upgrading and institutional reform in multiple million-plus cities. Aromar has served on high-level committees of the Government of India, and was responsible for the development of housing and urban development plans for two-thirds of India’s states in the 1990s.

Aromar Revi has delivered over 200 keynote addresses, speeches, seminars, TV and public appearances, across the world over the last two decades. This includes twice addressing UN member states in New York and at TEDx Palais des Nations in Geneva on Sustainable Cities. He delivered the first Kapuscinski Development lecture in Africa; the Khemka Distinguished lecture on India’s Urbanisation at the University of Pennsylvania in September 2015; the annual Curtin University lecture on Sustainability in May 2016. In 2017, he opened the Going Global Higher Education Summit in London on the University and the City and the EcoCity World Summit, 2017 in Melbourne.

Aromar Revi has led 120 major research and consulting & assignments in India and internationally; has deep governance, institutional development, management and implementation experience, across public, private and academic institutions; has published over 75 peer reviewed publications and books, which are cited over 8,000 times; lectured & taught at over 60 of the world’s leading Universities and think tanks across 6 continents; has travelled extensively to over 55 countries, including 19 of the G-20; helped structure, design & review development investments of over $8 billion; worked on 3 of the world’s 10 largest cities; across urban and rural areas in all of India’s 29 states and in multiple international projects across over a dozen countries.


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