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Rethinking the future of housing worldwide: Favelas as a sustainable model? by Dr Theresa Williamson

Dr Theresa Williamson, Executive Director, Catalytic Communities

Date/Time: Tuesday 26 October 2021, 5.30pm

Venue: This is an online event

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Hosted by Dr Nick Morgan, introduction from Dr Matt Davies

Informal settlements, such as Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, are not new and they are not rare. Today, one in three people in cities live in an informal settlement, and 85% of all housing worldwide is built illegally. By 2050, nearly a third of humanity will live in urban informal settlements. How can we value informal settlements around the world and integrate them on their own terms into our urban planning practices? Could this search lead to a sustainable urban future?


Theresa Williamson, Ph.D., is a city planner and founding executive director of Catalytic Communities, an NGO working to support Rio de Janeiro’s favelas through asset-based community development. CatComm publishes RioOnWatch, an award-winning local-to-global favela news platform, and coordinates the Sustainable Favela Network and Favela Community Land Trust programs. In 2020 they launched the Covid-19 in Favelas Unified Dashboard data crowdsourcing initiative. Theresa is an advocate for the recognition of favelas’ heritage status and their residents’ rights to be treated as equal citizens. She received the 2018 American Society of Rio prize for her contributions to the city and the 2012 NAHRO Award for her contributions to the international housing debate.

Live Q&A:

The lecture will be followed by a live Q&A with the speaker. You can submit a question in advance by sending an email to or during the event using YouTube Live Chat or via Twitter @InsightsNCL.

This event will be hosted on YouTube, registration is not required.