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(Re)imagining just and sustainable urban futures: perspectives from the Philippines 
Jordana Ramalho (University College London)
Tin Alvarez (University College London)
Chester Arcilla (University of the Philippines-Manila)
Kaira Zoe Canete (International Institute of Social Studies)
Friday 8 July, 11:50-12:30 (UTC+1)

Short Abstract:

This session considers how we might (re)imagine and set about achieving more sustainable, resilient and socially just urban futures. Drawing insights from contemporary research on Philippine cities, it considers the challenges, allies, ethics and practices that might support such processes.

Long Abstract

Now, perhaps more than ever, it is clear that the path to sustainable and resilient futures must be built on a foundation of social justice. Western greed and monopolisation over COVID-19 vaccines have led to the formation of yet another variant of the virus, impacting lives and livelihoods everywhere; thousands of people are displaced from their homes on a daily basis, be that as a consequence of privatisation and commercial development, conflict, poverty, or on the back of climate-related extreme weather events that disrupt and reconfigure communities and the social ties that connect them. Cities are key sites in which these tensions, contestations and negotiations play out, and given current and predicted levels of urbanisation and urban population growth, are fundamental spaces for addressing contemporary development challenges. But what does or ‘should’ a sustainable and resilient city look like? What principles, practices and characteristics would a sustainable and resilient city embody, and what processes are central to this project?

This session explores these questions from the perspective of Philippine cities, which we argue have much to contribute to how we learn and unlearn city-making and development processes. Bringing together scholars currently examining the diverse socio-political and environmental forces that are actively shaping contemporary Philippine urbanism from different entry points (urban marginality and radical politics of grassroots resistance; housing, dispossession and home-making practices; risk, resilience and mega-infrastructure development), this interactive workshop reflects on how we might (re)imagine and set about achieving more sustainable, resilient and socially just urban futures.

Panel members will be asked to reflect on and respond to the following questions:

Based on your research, what are the main challenges to advancing urban social justice in the Philippines?

What is one word (or a phrase) that encompasses an ethic or principle for how we should go about achieving this?


Speakers will be given five minutes each to respond to these questions followed by a 10-minute Q&A from the audience. Short pieces of relevant publications from each speaker can be shared with participants as advanced asynchronous reading material.

Panel Chair:

Dr Jordana Ramalho, Lecturer in Development Planning for Diversity, DPU, UCL


Dr Chester Arcilla, Assistant Professor in Economics, Department of Social Sciences, University of the Philippines, Manila

Khristine (Tin) Alvarez, PhD Candidate, DPU, UCL

Dr Kaira Alburro-Canete, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of New South Wales - Sydney