Thematic Alumni event | Sri Lanka

Livability in cities of the future: Addressing multiple challenges of climate change, urbanization, food and water security issues

Course information

Topic: Livability in cities of the future: Addressing multiple challenges of climate change, urbanization, food and water security issues
Location: Sri Lanka
Date: 27 - 28 July 2017
Coordinator: Dr. Assela Phatirana
Counterparts: Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development, Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau and Department of Coast Conservation and Coastal Resource Management
Open to:  alumni who are national of, and work and live in Sri Lanka

Event concluded, read article here



With a majority of the human population now living in urban areas, cities justifiably attract attention in national and global discourse on human development (Angel 2012). Until recently the place of and the challenges faced by secondary cities (non-capital cities with populations less than 5 million) has largely been ignored, although in terms of the total number inhabitants, secondary cities overshadow megacities (Roberts 2014). Many secondary cities in the global south (SCGS) are poised to undergo substantial economic growth and increase in population (UNDESA 2013). This is a particularly acute problem in South Asia. Moreover UN-HABITAT (2007) estimated that in the developing world only some 5% of urban development is actually planned. It is very likely that such growth will result in severe stress on the environment and challenge the livability of the inhabitants (e.g. due to urban flooding, pollution, water scarcity, coastal risk). At the same time, numerous advances are made in science and technology along the trajectory of looking at the urban system as an integrated whole, where sectoral problems (e.g. water scarcity, food shortage, coastal risk, flood risk) are only manifestations of central systemic issues. There are solutions that, instead of addressing only one aspect of the problem, help healing the system as a whole. For example there are some pioneering examples from Netherlands where urban greening can be used to (among other benefits): 1. Improve special quality, 2. Reduce (flood/coastal) risk and 3. Contribute to urban food production. SCGS like Colombo and many other cities in Sri Lanka and south Asia can clearly benefit from these experiences.

The most important benefit of this Thematic Alumni Event is to expose urban sector experts to transdisciplinary way of working. Convincing them of the benefit of integrated approaches and possibility of achieving win-win scenarios with concrete examples of good-practice. The presentations in the seminar are planned with the above objective in mind. They will demonstrate some of the state-of-the-art innovations in improving urban livability with concrete case studies, both from the Netherlands and the region.

During the workshop part (day 2) of the event, the participants will experience some of the techniques and processes that are proven to be successful both in Developed and Developing cities (e.g. cities in Netherlands, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Taiwan etc. – All these case studies are practical experience of the participating Dutch experts).



1.       Provide a platform for Alumni involved in different aspects/sectors of urban livability to get together and share their common problems/concerns and experiences.

2.       Realize a sustainable professional network of such Alumni that will continue improved collaboration beyond the event.

3.       Share some of the success-stories in integrated urban (water cycle) management from around the world by experts involved in those case studies.

4.       Share experiences of harmonizing the strategies/actions of diverse urban organizations.

Give an opportunity for the participating alumni to experience some of the successful strategies of collaboration by participating in structured collective brainstorming workshop (whose objective is to strategize and plan (2) above).

Prospective participants

The target group focuses on NFP alumni from Sri Lanka involved in the urban development. These will come from water supply, sanitation/drainage, construction, transport, environment, agriculture and other sectors. The event aims to have:

1.       Balance between sectors (e.g. WASH, Construction, Greening, etc.)

2.       Representation of professions (not only engineers, but a representative group of urban specialists)

3.       Balance of gender (at least 50% of the participants should be women)

4.       Provincial representation (Not only from city of Colombo, but from provinces. For the purpose of knowledge propagation)

5.       Sector representation (not only the government, but other urban development stakeholders: e.g. private sector, NGO, Universities)

Scholarships for Thematic Alumni Events

The Netherlands Government has made full Scholarships for a minimum of 20 participants available for each thematic alumni event. Important, the scholarship for alumni events it is not an NFP fellowship,  because of that you will be able to apply for NFP fellowship to follow a Short Course, Refresher Course or other programme. 

This (TAE) scholarship includes:

  • train or bus or air travel (economy class) from the nearest airport  from the candidate’s home to the thematic alumni event country or place and vice versa. Please note that travel costs made to reach the airport will not be reimbursed. 
  • transfer from the airport to hotel and vice versa; 
  • health insurance;
  • accommodation, including meals, for the duration of the event.