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Who we are

The Urban Living Lab Center provides a space for collaboration among implementation oriented projects in the field of urban climate action. This includes international cooperation projects with transformative potential in key urban sectors. This partnership starts with projects funded by the International Climate Initiative and the European Union and reaches also out to other key funders to maximise synergies among projects and foster effectiveness in an effort to boost local climate change mitigation action and foster sustainable development.

The Urban Living Lab Center is co-hosted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Technical University Berlin (TUB) and the Wuppertal Institute, building on the collaboration with UN-Habitat. The objective is to build on a range of joint projects and providing the platform for other actors and projects in the field to broaden and sustain the programme. The network of Labs and Hubs is meant to support the implementation of action-oriented urban development projects in Asia, Africa and Latin America, boost synergies and minimise duplications. The founding group acts as initial driver of the partnership and provides resources to the development and coordination of the partnership. The intention is that during the course of the programme activities are integrated in the on-going academic and capacity building work of all partners.

What we do

The transformation of cities towards sustainable and inclusive development is a key objective of the New Urban Agenda. There is substantial potential to improve urban access, air quality, safety, and the quality of life in cities along with reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions if an integrated policy approach is applied that combines all intervention areas for urban policy and involves all levels of government. Linking key sectors and actors is a vital step towards an integrated approach that helps decarbonizing urban systems and delivers liveable and accessible cities for all. Testing innovative solutions in urban living labs can be a key steppingstone, transferring these learnings into scaled-up public or private sector actions is then a vital next step towards transformative change.


This partnership focuses on key aspects related to urban transformations and provides a common platform for projects and initiatives for capacity building with a focus on: 

  • Policy, planning, funding, and financing (public sector)  

  • Green recovery, business modelling, and start-up support (private sector) 


The joint collaboration program provides a structured capacity building, peer-exchange, and learning concept focusing on sectoral linkages between mobility, energy, and resources as well as the socio-economic, institutional, and political aspects that affect the adoption of smart mobility solutions in cities in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. This builds a range of partnerships and key projects. While this has been initiated by the Urban Pathways project, it is open to all relevant projects, funded by the International Climate Initiative and other relevant programs in order to sustain partnerships with local and national authorities, and local innovators and to maximize synergies. 

The program brings together professional training, academic studies, and local implementation. Key elements of this partnership program are joint training and capacity building program and a support mechanism for the development, implementation, and scale-up of urban living labs.

An urban transitions competence framework has been developed jointly along with thematic curricula for key urban sectors, such as mobility, energy, and waste as well as cross-cutting issues, such as business modelling and access to finance. 

Regional hubs and thematic hubs have been established, capacity building material has been made available and a shared expert database has been developed. 


Urban Living Lab Center brings together partners from around the world working on applied research and capacity building and are actively involved in urban living labs. The core partners are UN-Habitat, MIT, TUB and WI, who lead the overall programme and invite lab and hub hosts to the partnership. 


UN-Habitat, the United Nations agency for human settlements, helps the urban poor by transforming cities into safer, healthier, greener places with better opportunities where everyone can live in dignity. Under Urban Mobility, UN-Habitat seeks to promote a paradigm shift away from the movement of vehicles to equitable and sustainable access of citizens to work places and services and improved movement of goods within the city. UN-Habitat in cooperation with partners and the SOLUTIONS project has developed the Urban Electric Mobility Initiative (UEMI), which was launched at the UN Climate Summit in 2014 New York. Electric mobility in all forms has the potential to make an important contribution a low-carbon development pathway for transport. The Urban Basic Services Section at UN-Habitat will facilitate peer-to-peer learning and ensure the participation of the relevant stakeholders. It is proposed that the Urban Living Lab Center becomes a UN-Habitat Collaborating Center.   

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)                                            

The MIT community is driven by a shared purpose: to make a better world through education, research, and innovation. The MIT Energy Initiative is MIT’s hub for energy research, education, and outreach—connecting faculty, students, and staff to develop the knowledge, technologies, and solutions that will deliver clean, affordable, and plentiful sources of energy. The mission is to develop low- and no-carbon solutions that will efficiently, affordably, and sustainably meet global energy needs while minimizing environmental impacts, dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigating climate change. The MIT will co-facilitate the online learning and exchange through its edx platform and MicroMasters programmes and will co-lead the overall development of the educational programme.  

Technical University Berlin                                                                                   

The Technische Universität Berlin is located in Germany’s capital city at the heart of Europe. The TU Berlin strives to promote the dissemination of knowledge and to facilitate technological progress through adherence to the core principles of excellence and quality. Strong regional, national and international networking with partners in science and industry are an important aspect in these endeavours. The Urban Change Maker Group (based at the Habitat Unit) co-developed the concept for the Urban Living Lab Center in the context of the Urban Pathways project. The partnership will be anchored at the Urban Change Maker Group, the StadtManufaktur and the Einstein Climate Change Center at TUB. The StadtManufaktur Berlin is a platform for transformative research and living labs at TU Berlin (executive board, vicepresident Appointments Strategy, Knowledge and Technology Transfer), where transdisciplinary and transformative alliances between science and society are created. StadtManufaktur Berlin generates, bundles and communicates transformation knowledge from research to society and vice versa from society to research. The Einstein Center Climate Change and Public Policy (ECCC) is an application-oriented research center designed to harness and further develop the unique potential of the Berlin-Brandenburg region, and its landscape of university and  various non-university institutes and stakeholders. The TU Berlin will support the links between academic studies and assignments with the collaboration with partner cities in the context of innovative urban Living Labs. The TUB will develop training courses for Urban Change Makers (public authorities and entrepreneurs) and will co-lead the overall development of the educational programme.  


Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy         

Sustainable development requires an integrated approach to policy and science because many of the issues it raises cannot be addressed within a single department or using the tools of individual scientific disciplines. This is where the Wuppertal Institute's research programme begins - by taking an interdisciplinary approach and working towards systems understanding. Applied sustainability research is the Wuppertal Institute's stated mission. The Wuppertal Institute collaborates with a multitude of universities and institutes around the world. A scientific International Advisory Board supports the Institute in defining fundamental research strategies as well as ensuring the quality and independence of its research. The Wuppertal Institute has longstanding experience with a multitude of national, European and international projects on sustainable transport. WI co-leads the international flagship project SOLUTIONSplus on sustainable mobility around the world as part of which the Urban Electric Mobility Initiative (UEMI). The Wuppertal Institute will co-facilitate the conceptual development of the urban living labs together with international cooperation partners. 

Global partners include UN-Habitat and UN Environment, GIZ, ITF, city networks such as ICLEI, research organisations such as WRI, ITDP, DIE and IIED. 

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