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Research, Rewards & Recognition

MCA embarked on a fantastic research journey in 2011 when we joined forces with the Sustainability Institute to produce two of the four UN Habitat Quick Guides on Urban Patterns for a Green Economy (see project details on our Projects page). As always in our line of work, the deadlines were tough and the task seemed daunting yet extremely interesting and pertinent to our beliefs and ethos as planners.

After numerous hours spent researching the current perspectives around our respective topics and many workshops, Skype calls and Dropbox updates amongst ourselves, the UN Habitat and the Sustainability Institute – final drafts of the Quick Guides were produced in time for publication and launching at the Rio +20 UN Habitat Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro during June 2012. What a proud moment for me personally as well as for all involved!

As these Guides were targeting decision makers in developing countries, MCA fuelled the momentum of the project by promoting the Guides locally, which proved a very rewarding process. MCA presented to a local SALGA meeting in July 2012, as well as at the IAIA conference in August 2012, during which we received complementary feedback and entered into some fascinating debates with our peers. Matt and Gill also travelled to Barcelona during May 2012 to present on aspects of these Quick Guides at the UN Habitat’s Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development. The highlight for me personally was preparing conference papers based on these Quick Guides for the bi-annual SAPI Planning Africa conference and presenting these at a parallel session at this conference held in September 2012, and subsequently receiving the award for Best Presenter during this session. The UN Habitat representative, Andrew Rudd, also attended this conference and introduced the conference goers to this book series in the form of an informal book launch. We had limited copies to hand out due to baggage restrictions – but the copies we had disappeared rather quickly!

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More importantly, since its launch, these Guides have led to some exciting prospects and ventures around the world, there is even talk of translating these into Chinese! As an example, the government officials of one of the major cities in Equador have initiated a working relationship with the UN Habitat to embark on a substantial brownfield redevelopment based on the principles contained in the Guides.

Not only was the research and writing process extremely rewarding from a personal growth and knowledge point of view but recognition for a job well done has also been evident in various forms.