Aromar Revi

Director, IIHS

Aromar Revi is the founding Director of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) India’s prospective interdisciplinary national University and Institution of Eminence, focused on urbanisation. Over a decade, he has built IIHS into one of the world’s leading education, research, training, advisory and implementation-support institution, focusing on the multi-dimensional challenges and opportunities of sustainable urbanisation.


He is an alumnus of IIT-Delhi and the Law and Management schools of the University of Delhi. He is a global practice and thought leader, and educator with 35 years of interdisciplinary experience in sustainable development, public policy and governance, human settlements, global environmental and technological change.

Aromar is a international expert on Sustainable Development; Co-Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), from where he helped lead a successful global campaign for an urban Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 11) as part of the UN’s 2030 development agenda.


He is a member of the Ubuntu Advisory Board of the UCLG President. UCLG is the global voice of local and regional governments, representing 0.24 million towns, cities, metropolises and regions. He is a member of UN-Habitat’ Stakeholder Advisory Group tasked with global stakeholder engagement (2019-21). Aromar is a former member of the Managing Board of Cities Alliance, the global partnership for sustainable cities and urban poverty reduction.


Over the last decade, Aromar has delivered over 250 keynote addresses, speeches, and seminars and made public, TV and radio appearances, across the world. He has addressed special sessions of the UN Open Working Group on the SDGs, the 71st UN General Assembly on the New Urban Agenda on Sustainable Cities, in 2014 and 2017. He has lectured and taught at over 90 (9 of the top-10) leading Universities, across all six continents.


Aromar’ policy, practice and research work lie at the interface of sustainability and climate science; and the emerging discipline of ‘urban science’ that he is helping define internationally. He is a member of the UCL-Nature Sustainability Expert Panel on science and the future of Cities that issued its 2018 report on the global state of the urban science-policy interface. He is Co-PI on two significant international urban research programmes that will help define the future of urban science (PEAK) and responses to urban inequality (KNOW) bringing together leading universities and researchers from four continents.


In 2016, UNSDSN and the SDG Academy launched the first 66-session global Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Sustainable Cities and SDG 11, curated by him, featuring 30 of the world’s leading urbanists. Over 20,000 participants from 150 countries have registered for this. This was launched on the EdX platform in January 2019.


Aromar has made significant contributions to human settlements development in India, for which he was elected an Ashoka Fellow in 1990. This includes a key role in designing India’s national public housing programmes, that facilitate the building of over 2 million rural houses a year; infrastructure planning, upgrading and institutional reform in multiple million-plus cities. Aromar has served on high-level committees of the Government of India and was responsible for the development of housing and urban development plans for two-thirds of India’s states in the 1990s.


Aromar is one of the world’s leading experts on global environmental change, especially climate change. He is a Coordinating Lead Author (CLA) of the 2018 IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C (SR15). He has worked extensively to bring the global urban and climate agendas together, including as a coordinating lead author of the SR1.5 Summary for Urban Policymakers, released at CoP24 in Poland in 2018.


He is a CLA of the synthesis chapter on Climate Resilient Development Pathways of the IPCC Working Group Assessment Report 6 on Adaptation, to be released in 2021. He was earlier a CLA of the IPCC Assessment Report 5 chapter on Urban Areas, that established the role of cities and regions in addressing climate risks in 2014. He was a co-PI of a large five-year international Climate Adaptation research programme that spanned India and eight countries in Africa, that explored mechanisms to take climate adaptation to scale in semi-arid regions.


He is one of South Asia’s most experienced risk and disaster management professionals having led teams to plan & execute rehabilitation programmes for ten major earthquake, cyclone and flood events affecting over 5 million people and has been on the Advisory Board of UNDRR’s Scientific & Technical Advisory Group (STAG) and its bi-annual Global Assessment of Risk, since 2008.


He is also an internationally-cited scholar across multiple fields: climate adaptation (#6), infrastructure (#9), urbanisation (#11), sustainable development (#26), and public policy (#66). He’s the Editor of the interdisciplinary international journal Urbanisation (Sage) and on the editorial Boards of Nature Sustainable Earth (Springer), the International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development (Taylor & Francis) & Urban Climate (Elsevier).


He has led and managed multiple sensitive international and national multi-stakeholder political and development negotiations. He has been a senior advisor to multiple ministries of the Government of India, since the late 1980s; and consulted with international development institutions, national and transnational firms on economic, environmental and social change at global, regional and urban scales. This includes UN, multilateral and bilateral agencies including: UNDP, UNICEF, UNEP, UN Habitat, UNDRR, UNU; World Bank, ADB, DFID, CIDA, SIDA, SDC, NORAD, GiZ, IDRC and AusAID.


Aromar has led 125 major practice, consulting and research assignments in India and internationally; has deep governance, institutional development, management and implementation experience, across public, private and academic institutions; has published 95 peer reviewed publications and books; lectured and taught at over 90 of the world’s leading Universities and think tanks across 6 continents; has travelled extensively to over 60 countries, including 19 of the G-20; helped structure, design & review development investments of over $ 8 billion; worked on 3 of the world’s 10 largest cities; across urban and rural areas in all of India’s 29 states and on multiple international projects across over a dozen countries.