The Sir William Dale Centre for Legislative Studies at IALS and the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) have launched the Urban Law Initiative with the aim to promote innovative research and generate knowledge in the niche area of urban legislation. 

The Urban Law initiative is structured around the following pillars (link to presentation): 

  1. The organisation of an annual Urban Law Day
  2. Research promotion and the generation of knowledge in urban law
  3. The provision of technical assistance and capacity building through studies, seminars, workshops. 

Since 2014, four Urban Law Days (jointly organized by the Sir William Dale Centre and UN Habitat) have taken place at the IALS. The Urban Law Day is a specialised forum that brings together a multidisciplinary circle of academics and practitioners interested in urban legislation, including planners, architects, policy makers, economists, urbanists, and lawyers. Its purpose is to facilitate discussion, the exchange of views, networking, and the presentation of new research findings or emerging issues. The events organized so far have addressed a variety of issues such a forward looking research agenda in urban law (2014), effective legal frameworks as a tool for sustainable urban development (2015) and challenges and solutions for good urban legislation is resource poor settings (2016). The 2017 Urban Law Day addressed the links between policy objectives and commitments in the New Urban Agenda and the enabling legislative and governance frameworks required for their implementation.

In terms of research promotion, the Urban Law Initiative has made contributions to academic and policy discussions around the world, such as the World Bank Law and Development Week (Washington, November 2013), the Urban Thinkers Campus (Legal course towards Habitat III, Mexico City, November 2015), expert group meetings (Madrid, March 2015, Stockholm, December 2017) and specialized conferences (4th Annual International & Comparative Urban Law Conference on 'Law and the New Urban Agenda', Cape Town, South Africa, July 2017). 

In terms of generation of knowledge, the Urban Law Initiative has managed to delineate the niche area of urban legislation, identify its main streams and initiate an academic debate around concepts of legislative quality. Academic papers have been published (Maria Mousmouti and Gianluca Crispi, 'Good Legislation as a means of ensuring voice, accountability and the delivery of results in Urban Development’, World Bank Legal Review, ‘Improving Delivery in Development’, Vol. 6, p. 257 ff.) and the work of the academics and fellows of the Sir William Dale Centre for Legislative studies has been quoted in the World Cities Report 2016 and other UN Habitat publications. A special issue of the European Journal of Law Reform on Urban Law is currently underway to further deepen the discussion around effective urban legislation in developed and developing countries. 

The Urban Law Initiative made an active contribution to the international discussion on the New Urban Agenda and the Habitat III Conference (held in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016) through a collective paper on challenges related to urban legislation of good quality in resource poor settings and the legal reforms required to ensure the effective implementation of international policy commitments. 

In terms of capacity building, the Sir William Dale Centre for Legislative Studies designed and hosted in July 2017, a specialized training seminar titled "Building drafting skills for improving the quality of urban legislation”. The seminar addressed policy makers, urban planners, UN Habitat officers and legal experts from around the world and aimed to familiarize them with the dividing lines between policy and legislation, help them understand criteria of quality in legislation and familiarize them with existing methods and tools for evidence based law making and basic drafting principles (include link). 

Through these activities, the Sir William Dale Centre for Legislative Studies and the Urban Law Initiative generate valuable knowledge and disseminate it to stakeholders worldwide, works to create more sustainable relationships between international/national policies and the law and builds on momentum to create impact to the interest of the worlds’ citizens.