Federation for
Housing and

Belfast Urban Thinkers Campus: 'The City for Everyone'

Wednesday 31.05.2017 to Friday 02.06.2017
Belfast, Northern Ireland, U.K.

IFHP is hosting an Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) in Belfast - incl. Dublin trip - to assist with the implementation of the UN Habitat's New Urban Agenda. We are delivering this UTC with our partners as part of the World Urban Campaign (WUC).

In partnership with Belfast City Council; the Royal Town Planning Institute; the Town and Country Planning Association; the International New Towns Institute; Ulster University; the Academy of Urbanism; and the Ministerial Advisory Group, we will organise a three day Urban Thinkers Campus focusing on several principles of the World Urban Campaign’s The City We Need




One issue that has been identified in some cities is that low income inner city communities (which are often located in a ring around the city centre and have high levels of unemployment and deprivation) do not generally benefit from the nearby economic prosperity and social/educational/health facilities of the city centre.


We want to understand why this is the case and bring some tested solutions to the problem. Belfast is a good example, as it is a post industrial city with a ring of communities surrounding the city centre and living in reasonably good social housing but still not thriving. The City Council and the expanding city centre university have both identified the problem of integrating these communities with the city centre including new private and student housing.


Registration for the IFHP Urban Thinkers Campus in Belfast is now closed. [Update 29-05-2017] 


Goal of the Urban Thinkers Campus

The objective of this Urban Thinkers Campus is to assist the implementation stage of the New Urban Agenda (2016) by focusing on several principles of the World Urban Campaign's "The City We Need", namely how to make cities more (1) socially inclusive and engaging (2) affordable, equitable and inclusive (3) economically vibrant and inclusive and (4) safe, healthy and promoting well-being. 

We are bringing together international experts and “thinkers” from UK and Ireland as well as from elsewhere in Europe and beyond to debate and discuss the issues and propose solutions. We are including politicians, NGOs, the voluntary sector, the private sector, academics, community workers and practitioners in housing, planning, built environment, education and economic development to agree actions that will assist in making cities more cohesive, inclusive and fair to everyone. 

In this video, event co-organiser and co-chair of the UN Habitat’s Professionals Forum Diana Fitzsimons explains what we, the IFHP community, aim for when we’re thinking about future cities. Fitzsimons, IFHP ambassador, is considered an ‘Urban Thinker’ and voices her view on ‘The City We Need’. 


Up for Debate:

  1. How can we ensure these communities feel more physically integrated into the centre city? What are the urban design, walking, cycling and public transport solutions? How can affordable housing be delivered alongside private housing and student housing in an inclusive barrier-free way?
  2. How can we ensure these communities benefit from the job availability in the centre city? How can these residents be reached, motivated and educated to match employment requirements?
  3. How can we ensure these communities benefit from the educational facilities in the centre city- usually universities and colleges? What educational programmes are successful in reaching out to these communities?
  4. How can we ensure these communities benefit from other services available within the centre city such as healthy city initiatives and cultural activity? What are the barriers and how has this goal been achieved elsewhere?
  5. How can these communities be empowered and motivated to take part in urban governance and develop leadership roles in the city? 


Day 1: UTC main conference
A number of international experts, through case studies,will explain some workable solutions to the 'Issues' raised. These presentations shall be followed by roundtables and discussion groups culminating in a plenary session in which a draft list of possible actions will be agreed. 
Day 2: Site visits/workshops Belfast - professional site visits/workshops in inner City Belfast
Belfast site visits/workshops will take place for those participants who are interested e.g. to inner city social housing areas; to the "peace walls" segregating communities in the inner city and to the new regeneration areas within the centre city and its former industrial lands. At each visit there will be a presentation by a local expert and a workshop.
Day 3: (OPTIONAL) Study tour-optional study tour to inner city Dublin.
A study trip to Dublin's city centre will be arranged for those participating. A small fee will be charged to cover transportation costs. 

You can find the detailed program as well as the list of speakers and chairs here. 


Accommodation and Practicalities 

Participation in the UTC is for free. There might be a small charge for the field trip on the third day, which is an optional part of the programme. 
It is advised to book your accommodation in the city centre of Belfast. IFHP does not partner with any hotel in particular, but we can recommend the following accommodations; Days Inn, Park Inn, Clayton, Fitzwilliam, Hilton, Premier Inn or Bella apartments. The Belfast city center is quite small and walkable, so you will be close to all the main attractions and locations of the event. 
The IFHP representation will be staying at the Premier Inn. 
A number of airlines fly directly to Belfast and also directly to Dublin which is only 2 hours away by coach or train. 
Please take a look at the Visitor Map, the 2017 Visitor Guide and the Official City Guide of Belfast.





For more information about the Urban Thinkers Campus in Belfast, please contact project manager Andreia Fidalgo at