APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS for Mega-Cities Awards Competition

Posted on August 23rd, 2016 by admin

We are looking for youth or multi-generational initiatives that open pathways to more inclusive and participatory cities for the benefit of all, not just the elite. Applicants can be a community activist, student, non-profit, public or private sector initiative that will inspire others.

To apply for a MC2 Youth Award and the opportunity to present your individual or organization’s work at our Networking Session at Habitat III and win USD $1000 of cash prize, please email us at with an attached WORD or PDF document addressing the questions below. Applications and presentations must be in English.

1. Summarize your project or approach — tell us when and how it started; how is it being implemented, and where you expect it to be 5 years from now. How does your approach differ from standard practice and how can it change people’s mindset about what is possible, what youth can contribute, and how to use social media for social action. (Up to 500 words).

Attach supporting documents about your achievements and impact to date, which can include photos, videos, and media, etc.

2. Explain why you would like to participate in Habitat III and in this MC2 Networking Event and how it would contribute to your personal and organizational goals. If you are already participating in Habitat III, who is sponsoring you and in what event(s) will you be participating? The Award can be used for travel expenses to Habitat III — or to strengthen your collective or individual work. (Up to 300 words).

3. Capacity — Describe how you and/or your organization are especially qualified to undertake this project. How will the organization support you and what will this initiative bring to the organization. (up to 200 words)

Attach your own CV or Bio and your organization’s profile location, mission, main activities, leadership, size, structure, scope and previous achievements.

4. Strategy — What is your implementation, dissemination and evaluation strategy?  How have you been tracking results, addressing challenges/difficulties, making mid-course corrections and measuring success thus far?  If not already doing this, how do you plan to do that? Address anticipated outcomes, beneficiaries, and potential long-term impacts. (up to 300 words).

Attach supporting materials if relevant.

CHECK LIST: in the answers to these questions be sure to include:

  • What’s new about what you’re doing? Why is your project original and unique? *
  • How long you have been working on this idea? What’s the status of your project?
  • What is your strategy to create more inclusive and sustainable cities—especially from a youth perspective?
  • Why it is difficult to solve this challenge or problem? * What are the main uncertainties / challenges associated with your idea?
  • Describe how you might use or are using new technologies to include the voices of marginalized groups.
  • Who are the beneficiaries?

Contact Information: email, mobile, mailing address, and where applicable, Skype handle, website, Facebook page, etc. Finalists may be interviewed by phone or Skype where possible.

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS for Mega-Cities Awards Competition

Posted on August 23rd, 2016 by admin

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS for Mega-Cities Awards Competition at UN HABITAT III Networking Event

October 17 – 19, 2016

Quito, Ecuador

Youth Initiatives in the Quest for Urban Inclusion: Emerging Voices and Networks

  • Are you a passionate young leader who has actively been involved in the struggle for the inclusion of poor and marginalised groups in your city?
  • Have you undertaken initiatives at the community or policy level, enhancing social justice and the right to the city?
  • Do you want to exchange your ideas and experiences with other emerging leaders and current practitioners in your area?

APPLY by SEPTEMBER 8th —- to WIN USD$1,000 and present your innovative approach at the Habitat III Networking Event hosted by the Mega-Cities Project

The Mega-Cities Project (MCP) celebrated its 10th Anniversary at Habitat II in Istanbul and will be launching the next generation “Mega Cities / Mega-Change”, or “MC2” at Habitat III in Quito.

MCP, with support from Global Communities, will present Awards to 4 young change-makers working on urban social and spatial integration and creative solutions at the intersection of poverty, environment and voice.

Goals of Networking Session

þ  Engage participants in creating the next generation MC2;

þ  Find and share inspiring, innovative and replicable experiences;

þ  Discover youth initiatives and young leaders creating alternative approaches that turn problems into solutions

þ  Accelerate the effectiveness of young leaders by connecting them with each other and with established leaders

þ  Explore how to mobilize the intellectual capital, creativity and problem-solving capacity of excluded groups

þ  Discover measures that advance the  ‘right to the city’—or the City for LL– involve youth who will inherit their cities’ legacies

þ  Identify how to use new generation technologies to promote youth participation in decisions that affect their lives

þ  Learn about models for youth-led, inter-generational collaboration

þ  Create coalitions among potential (perhaps surprising) allies.

How to apply

  1. Complete the Application Form for the MC2 Awards Competition;
  2. Include supporting documents with evidence of your work (short videos, newspaper clippings, website, social media, etc.);
  3. Include your CV with contact information, including phone number, email and mailing address;
  4. Send complete application materials to: with the subject line: MCP AWARD  – {INSERT YOUR NAME AND CITY} by September 8th, 2016. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

All applications should be in English and to be submitted in PDF or Word

Selection Criteria

Applications will be reviewed on the following criteria:

  1. Innovation: uniqueness of approach
  2. Growth and Adaptability: potential for growth replication, demonstrating system-challenging ideas that can be scaled-up into public policy, replicated elsewhere, and inspire urban social movements
  3. Promise of Emerging Leaders: We are looking for committed young leaders, social entrepreneurs, start-ups and any other change-maker
  4. Solutions: we are looking for solutions at the intersection of poverty and the environment that contribute to improving livelihood and empower the disenfranchised.

Dates and Results


The 4 WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED on our Twitter account -(@MegaCitiesSpeak), our Website ( and by email.

We will advise you when Habitat III assigns us a date/time and location

Habitat III Networking Event

At Habitat I, Perlman’s just-published book, The Myth of Marginality contested the prevailing stereotypes of migrants and squatters and argued against squatter eradication that was the policy implication of the misconceptions.  At Habitat II, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Mega-Cities Project, hosting the Local Coordinators from each of the 20 mega-cities in our network as well as the community participants who were part of the first ever Grassroots Innovation Exposition. Our Project Coordinators 20 years ago are now in mature leadership positions. At Habitat III, our goal is to accelerate the effectiveness of the next generation of young and emerging leaders by connecting them with this first cohort of leaders.

Our most recent research findings on “Winners and Losers in the Struggle for the Right to the City” in Rio de Janeiro, funded by the Tinker Foundation, point us to the multiple creative initiatives that are being developed under the radar. We found youth from informal and peripheral neighborhoods building new alliances, turning garbage into income, inventing new ways to assert their identity, and taking action to promote transparency and hold government accountable.

We cannot even begin to solve the challenges of urbanization, without giving voice to those who have been stigmatized and ignored because they are young and poor.

Policy and practice can be transformed by converting the collective knowledge of “invisible” marginalized people into action. Just as the abundant creative energy in cities today is stymied by the lack of access to the policy making process, there are many emerging leaders who cannot fulfill their potential or advance their new initiatives for lack of bonding and bridging networks.

About MCP and MC2

Now in its 25th year, The Mega Cities Project was founded to “shorten the lag time between urban innovations and their implementation.”  We use a dual strategy: we share solutions among cities and put the lessons of experience in the hands of policy-makers and practitioners in real time; and we do research and tap into community knowledge to gain a deeper understanding of the process of deliberate social change in cities.

MCP has created a collaborative network among 21 of the largest cities in the world. Our Coordinators, hosted in academic or non-profit institutions in each city, work with multi-sector steering committees to identify and document system-challenging solutions in their own communities and scale them up or to adapt approaches that work from other cities.   Our focus is on livelihoods, voice and environmental justice for informal communities and marginalized groups.

We are now launching: Mega-Cities2 or MC2 (pure energy) — bringing in the next generation of urban change agents and utilizing the next generation of technologies. Our original project participants, who now hold senior positions nationally and internationally, have agreed to mentor these young people in order to  “shorten the lag time between promising new leaders and their ability to make a difference.”  MC2 is the fusion of the accumulated wisdom, credibility and trust of our founding network with the creativity, passion and technological sophistication of the next generation.

We invite you to join us in charting the course for the next 25 years!


Posted on July 29th, 2016 by admin

At Habitat I, Perlman’s just-published book, The Myth of Marginality contested the prevailing stereotypes of migrants and squatters and argued against squatter eradication that was the policy implication of the misconceptions.  At Habitat II, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Mega-Cities Project, hosting the Local Coordinators from each of the 20 mega-cities in our network as well as the community participants who were part of the first ever Grassroots Innovation Exposition. At Habitat III we will be launching our next generation Mega-Cities/Mega-Change, or MC2 —which captures the essence of youthful “energy”.


Posted on January 1st, 2015 by admin

THIS LINK to our “Mega-Cities Year in Images” shows photos of Favela Restaurant in Greenwich Village, NYC; community upgrading Project in Medellin, Colombia, World Urban Forum 2014; Workshop on Sustainable Humanity and Sustainable Nature in Vatican; CITYLAB Summit in LA; Young girls in Rio Favela Upgrading Project; Slum Transformation Challange in Dubai; Center for Social Innovation, part of MC2 Next Gen Convening; MC2 Spring Interns from Columbia University; Santa Fe Institute “Science of Cities” sunset; Site Visit to Lower East Side Movement for Reclaimed Urban Space (w 12 young urban innovators from around the world); and last first sunset of 2015.

Turning Ideas Into Action: A Slum Convening

Posted on August 5th, 2014 by admin

Dr. Perlman took part in facilitating the Slum Summit hosted by Geneva Global and the Legatum Foundation.

25 thought leaders and experts from various philosophical and practical standpoints were invited last month in Dubai to find root causes to turn ideas into action in improving the conditions of slum dwellers. By the end of the event, the group settled on seven potential ideas that will be further explored by the Legatum Foundation and Geneva Global.

Details of this Summit can be found in Storify:

Dr. Perlman contributed to the conversation by sharing findings from her longitudinal study of the Favelas. Video of her presentation below:

ECOSOC Integration Segment on Sustainable Urbanization

Posted on July 7th, 2014 by admin

Invited as a panelist, Dr. Perlman argued for the inclusion of the informal sector in decision-making processes at the first ever UN ECOSOC Integration Segment on Sustainable Urbanization on May 27-29, 2014, held at the UN Headquarters in New York.  With the participation of the President of Rwanda, the Vice-President of Colombia, the United Nations Special Envoy on Cities and Climate Change, a number of ministers and mayors, city planners, the UN system, the African Union, representatives of major groups, non-governmental organizations, academia and the private sector, the ECOSOC Integration Segment was said to have demonstrated the transformative potential of urbanization and identified key policy recommendations that could advance the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and shape the post-2015 development agenda, as well as Habitat III.

Dr. Perlman at the Vatican (NY Times article)

Posted on May 23rd, 2014 by admin

Dr. Perlman joins the Pope, along with scholars and scientists, in a conversation about “Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature, Our Responsibility” held at the Vatican between May 2nd and 6th–featured in The New York Times articles by Andrew Revkin:

Quote: “Janice Perlman’s work reveals the vitality and potential in those caught up in humanity’s astounding high-speed reorganization into a mainly urban species…”

Link to first article:

Link to second article:

Preparing for Population Growth: CCTV America Interview

Posted on April 14th, 2014 by admin

Dr. Janice Perlman was recently invited to interview with CCTV America, the U.S. division of China Central Television. On air, she answered key questions on the risks and opportunities that lie ahead for urbanization, especially in regions as densely populated as China. CCTV is the predominant state television broadcaster in mainland China.

Link to video:

Dr. Perlman speaks at Metropolis Nonformal Anticipation Conference in Munich

Posted on February 23rd, 2014 by admin

Dr. Perlman was invited to the Metropolis Nonformal Anticipation Conference in Munich on November 21, 2013 to present and discuss urbanization and informality trends, her Rio Favela research, and core ideas for the Next Generation MC2 project. Follow the attached link for a full video of her session as the opening speaker.

Presentation video: Janice Perlman on Urban Informality – Marginal or Mainstream?

Given that a billion people are currently living off the grid in the world’s cities and that this number is expected to grow to three billion people (a third of the world’s population) by 2050, urban informality is one of the most pressing issues of our time. Dr. Perlman will report on her 40 years of research in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, following the lives of hundreds of families over 4 generations and tracing the evolution of policy and practice. What has gotten better? What has gotten worse? What are the issue areas for future research? And, what knowledge, innovation and action will be critical in creating inclusive sustainable cities in the future?

Discussion video: Janice Perlman and Rainer Hehl, moderated by Andres Lepik

Updates on the Mega Cities Project!

Posted on February 20th, 2014 by admin

Apologies for our long pause.  We are back now and look forward to sharing ideas and hearing from you.
The Mega-Cities Project is now working with a several outstanding Graduate Students Interns from the School of International and Public Affairs and the Urban Planning Division at Columbia University. The 4 projects we are doing are: 1. The conceptualization and strategic action plan for MC2;    2)  The impact of Mega-Events in Mega-Cities in terms of social justice —3-year research project focusing on the World Cup and Olympics preparation, actualization  and aftermath in Rio de Janeiro;   3) China’ s Mega-Cities and urban slums; Tier 2 and 3 cities and “ghost cities; and 4) preparation of a paper and talk on Mega-Cities” for a Roundtable at the Vatican on “ Sustainable Humanity and Sustainable Nature”  in May.   Attached are the brief descriptions of each project.

1. Mega-Cities/Mega-Change (MC2) –this is an opportunity to build a sustainable non-profit organization working in the largest cities in the world–in all regions.  It is about what the next generation of urban leaders can do to improve urban inclusion and environmental regeneration, using the earlier cohort of Mega-Cities coordinators as mentors to “shorten the lag time between ideas and implementation”  AND to “shorten the lag time between promising young leaders and their ability to make a difference.  It will involve Strategic Planning, a 3-year plan, outreach, social media and decisions about how participation on open platform will intersect with face-to-face networks. There is a research agenda on the life cycle of innovations and the conditions for new ideas to arise, thrive and adapt to change.  This is the beginning of a 25-year initiative of sharing what works among informal communities and activists and scaling that into public policy.  It is about “system-challenging innovations”, involving new players at the table, new incentive systems and new rules of the game.

2. Mega-Events in Mega-Cities: Social Justice Impacts in the Case of Rio’s Favelas: will be developing a 3-year study of how the favelas are affected in the lead-up, duration and after the World Cup and Olympics and what the reactions are from:  community-based groups and residents, NGOs, student activists working with NGOs and residents, business community and city, state, and national government. Need to conceptualize the study from start to finish and lay out the literature review, analytical framework and research methodology.

3. China Cities Project:  potential planning work on the smaller Tier 2 and 3 cities and on the “ghost cities” –which are newly built, ready for occupancy and remain abandoned;  and on migrants and migrant slum communities in the large cities.   We are in discussions with a non-profit based in Beijing and with a construction company interested in anticipating future urban infrastructure needs.  If this works out, it would be an opportunity to influence the human livability and quality of life in cities and to test various forms of circular rather than linear infrastructure by trying decentralized models for energy, water, sanitation, garbage, road paving and building materials.

4. Vatican Workshop on Sustainable Humanity and Nature: May 2-9, 2014. We will be giving a presentation on THE CHALLENGE/PROMISE OF THE MEGA-CITIES   This will be one of the only presentations on cities in the entire meeting, most of which will cover environmental issues from Oceans to Forests to Climate Change.    We will cover an overview of urbanization and in formalization trends, the implications for environmental sustainability, and ideas for policy, planning and practice and wish to illustrate this with striking images, graphics and up-to-date information.