Founded in 2005, the Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CSUD) is one of eight global Centers of Excellence (CoE) in Future Urban Transport established by the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF).  CSUD seeks to understand the complexity of interactions between land use and transport through research and education, including student and professional training programs, in addition to working with relevant actors in the government and civil society groups. The complexities of urban and regional development are many and, as cities grow, supporting citizen-focused planning, generating access for citizens, and supporting transportation systems that are socially equitable and environmentally sustainable are key to their success. CSUD works intensively in the Nairobi Metropolitan area with a wide variety of partners on supporting local planning and policy improvements and public engagement in sustainable and equitable land-use and transportation. The center is also working on finance for access and transport in China, has explored how best to support planning institutions in Haiti and recently set up a partnership with the CEDEUS, the Centro Desarrollo Urbano Sustenable. CSUD has also engaged in a number of US-based transportation and planning reform issues including in the country’s legacy cities.

CSUD is centrally concerned with turning knowledge into action. We explore ways to improve urban processes and build knowledge to better support needed change. In 2012, the action planning program Global Studio joined CSUD, and through the traveling exhibition People Building Better Cities: Participation and Inclusive Urbanization stimulated a dialogue on inclusion in 10 countries and 18 cities Bangkok, Rio, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Beijing, Durban, Cincinnati, Medellin, Christchurch, Ann Arbor and New York.

CSUD is a founder of the ongoing Digital Matatus project. In a consortium with the MIT Civic Data Design Lab, University of Nairobi C4D Lab, and Groupshot, we created the first open transit data and contemporary public transit map for Nairobi, now available on Google Maps and other apps as a service to citizens and planners of Nairobi. We are now supporting the spreading of these mapping efforts to other cities including Cairo in the Digital Cairo project with Transport4Cairo and Takween Integrated Community Development.

In collaboration with VREF, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Transit Center and the American Assembly, CSUD hosted a four day workshop “Transforming Mobility. Access and Delivery in Cities : Turning Knowledge into Action” in October 2014. The workshop which brought together graduate student researchers, practitioners , academics, politicians and policy makers in a vibrant call for action around improving cities and the access of citizens to opportunities, services and a clean, safe environment encapsulated CSUD’s evolving research and action mission, including consideration of how, through its teaching and research, the academy can have greater impact on policy, planning and design.