Jens Aerts is a senior urban planner with 20 years of experience, working on the cross-section of practice, policy and research. Most recently he has been working as an international consultant for the Habitat III secretariat, UNICEF HQ and the World Bank. He authored UNICEF’s recent publication ‘Shaping urbanization for children, a handbook on child-responsive urban planning’ and supports the agency with the development and implementation of a Global Urban Strategy, including training and technical assistance in regional and country offices.
Jens is a partner at BUUR – Bureau for Urbanism, specialized in city development plans and stakeholder engagement processes towards sustainable urban transformation for the Brussels Capital Region and several secondary cities in Belgium and the Netherlands. Before that he assisted both Governments of the Flemish and the Brussels Region to build urban planning capacity in public agencies and to direct community led neighborhood plans, sustainable mobility programs and key public space interventions.
Jens was teaching at the Cosmopolis Centre for Urban Research of the University of Brussels (VUB) from 2011 until 2016. He holds a MSc in Civil Engineering and Architecture from the University of Leuven (Belgium) and obtained his MA Urban Planning at Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya in Barcelona (Spain).
Mahak Agrawal is an urban planner, researcher from India. Currently working on the issue of sanitation deprivation and climate change response across coastal districts of India, she has served as an expert reviewer to the Second Order Draft of the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land.
In different capacities, she has worked with non-profit organisations, development banks, universities and research institutes, as well as technical divisions of government-at the Centre and city level in India. Next to her contribution to the United for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC) initiative, Mahak explores innovative, enduring research-guided solutions for pressing urban and regional environmental problems. She is specifically interested in the climate change and urban studies investigating multi-track approach and inequalities of adaptations and transformations, development and geography, associated global challenges and human geography.
An advocate of open data for effective urban management, monitoring and response, she often provides thought leadership to the Young Academic Network of Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP) and the South Asia Centre at London School of Economics. In 2017, she was awarded the Prof. V.N. Prasad Best Thesis Award for best thesis in Master of Planning in India.