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About Us

GUD board meeting Vancouver_edited_edite
About Us

Global Urban Development (GUD) is a worldwide non-profit organization founded in 2001, consisting of a rapidly growing network of more than 700 dynamic and well-known urban leaders and experts in 60 countries. GUD has offices in Barcelona, Beijing, Berkeley, Curitiba, Dover, Dubai, Hong Kong, London, Panama City, Porto Alegre, Poznan, Prague, Sao Paulo, Singapore, Sydney, Toronto, and Washington, DC. We conduct education, research, and action to promote policy ideas that help generate more prosperous, sustainable, and inclusive urban development throughout the world.


GUD’s goals are for all people everywhere to live and thrive in peace with each other, and for all people everywhere to live and thrive in peace with nature.  To further these goals, we engage in projects in partnership with a wide variety of international, national,  city, and community organizations.  GUD operates under the major themes of Sustainability, 

Prosperity, Innovation, and Inclusiveness.

Global Urban Development was founded on three basic ideas.  The initial idea was to acknowledge that for the first time in all of human history, the world is increasingly becoming a majority urban world.  According to the UN, since 2007 more than half of the people in the world are living in cities and towns.  Therefore, the majority of the world’s population is now urbanized.  This occurrence is all the more remarkable because in 1950 only one-third of the world’s population was urbanized, and yet by the end of this century, two-thirds of the world’s population will be urbanized.  Many people are alarmed by this trend, seeing it as a major problem.  GUD, on the other hand, believes that everyone should adapt to changing times by working together to solve the urban challenges rather than turning our backs on them or trying to reverse these powerful urbanizing trends.  Since urban economic activity is more productive and innovative and produces both more jobs and higher incomes, GUD advocates using rapidly increasing urbanization as a resource for improving the standard of living and the quality of life both for urban and rural residents alike.

The second idea is that all people and communities have much more in common than the differences between us.  Thus we do not divide the world into irreconcilable differences, such as the standard division between “developed” countries and “developing” countries.  GUD includes every person and community equally in our policy debates and program initiatives.   This explains why GUD works very closely with the UN on several different initiatives, including the Community Productivity Project (CPP), in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), and Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), designed to make significant progress in researching and identifying new and better ways to reach the UN’s Millennium Development Goals related to environmental sustainability, poverty reduction, gender equality, public health, and global development partnerships.

The third idea is that Global Urban Development stands for practical action to accomplish visionary goals through broadly inclusive and sustainable solutions.  We do not seek to divide people into greater conflict between “winners and losers” or “haves and have-nots.”  Our approach is to unite people through education and consensus-building in order to identify and implement “win-win” solutions where all can successfully become winners and where every person, family, and community can achieve long-term peace and prosperity, health and happiness. 

GUD is a global innovator in sub-national sustainable economic, business, employment, and community development, for states and provinces, regions and districts, cities and counties, towns and villages, and neighborhoods and communities.  GUD’s Metropolitan Economic Strategy, Sustainable Innovation, and Inclusive Prosperity framework is now widely accepted worldwide, including by major international agencies such as the United Nations, World Bank, and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). 

Currently GUD is working on Metropolitan Economic Strategy, Sustainable Innovation, and Inclusive Prosperity through Sustainable Innovation Zones in Brazil, Panama, Australia, US, Poland, and other countries.


Global Urban Development (GUD), founded in 2001, is a nonprofit international policy organization and professional network of more than 700 leaders and experts in 60 countries, committed to enabling everyone in the world to live and thrive in peace with each other and in peace with nature. GUD participates in many global partnerships with the UN, World Bank, and other international organizations to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Climate Agreement, and New Urban Agenda by 2030.


In addition, Global Urban Development specializes in designing innovative, sustainable, and inclusive economic growth and development strategies for cities, counties, regions, states, and provinces in many countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Italy, Morocco, Panama, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UAE, UK, and the US, by applying GUD's strategic policy and action framework, Metropolitan Economic Strategy, Sustainable Innovation, and Inclusive Prosperity.  A vital feature of GUD's approach is a strong emphasis on promoting Sustainable Innovation, ClimateTech Resilience, and Circular Economy, as expressed in this brief article, The Global Future of Green Capitalism, including the "Four Greens" framework: Green Savings, Green Opportunities, Green Talent, and Green Places.


GUD's co-founders, Sir Peter Hall (who passed away in 2014) and Dr. Marc Weiss, shared decades of academic, professional, and policymaking experience on urban and regional economic development.


For the past two decades, GUD has been spreading its Metropolitan Economic Strategy, Sustainable Innovation, and Inclusive Prosperity framework worldwide through many economic development initiatives, ranging from the transit-oriented sustainable development of NoMa in Washington, DC, recognized by the OECD as an international best practice for local economic and employment development; to the economic strategy for Sarasota County, Florida to become a center for innovation in energy and sustainability, funded by the US Department of Energy; to the World Bank-funded Leapfrog Economic Strategy for Brazil's State of Rio Grande do Sul to become the most sustainable and innovative place in Latin America by 2030.

Beginning in 2010, GUD worked with the Obama Administration and the Brazil Government on the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), involving all of the countries of North, Central, and South America, from Canada to Argentina. In June 2011, GUD helped organize the world's first international conference on Sustainable Economic Development, hosted by Curitiba, Brazil, with a keynote speech by GUD Vice Chair Jaime Lerner, the legendary former Curitiba Mayor and Parana Governor who invented Bus Rapid Transit and other urban sustainable innovations (he passed away in 2020). This conference featured recent US sustainable economic development strategies in which GUD was actively involved, including Portland, OR (which created the first EcoDistricts); San Antonio, TX; San Jose, CA; Southwest Florida; and the State of Delaware.   The ECPA conference led to ongoing GUD work in Brazil, in the cities of Curitiba, Belo Horizonte, Sao Paulo, and Porto Alegre (birthplace of Participatory Budgeting).


Since 2015, GUD has been participating in the implementation of the Rio Grande do Sul (RS) Leapfrog Economic Strategy by helping organize and coordinate the Porto Alegre Sustainable Innovation Zone (ZISPOA), in collaboration with the RS state government, Porto Alegre city government, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), and Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre (UFCSPA).

ZISPOA, consisting of 15 adjacent Porto Alegre neighborhoods with a total population of 210,00 residents, is focused on becoming the most solar-powered, energy efficient, bike-friendly (sustainable mobility), and renewable technology-friendly (circular economy/zero waste) urban area in Latin America by 2030. ZISPOA has made significant progress over the past seven years, generating more than a dozen startup businesses, building several sustainable neighborhood improvements, and mobilizing many professors and students to help transform university education and research, including creating a new interdisciplinary Sustainable Innovation Professional (SIP) graduate program, greening campus facilities, and supporting Sustainable Innovation-led community economic development in nearby neighborhoods.

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