Nicholas You

Leading authority on Urban Sustainability, governance, and innovations, 30+ years at UN,trained 1000+ city officials in 80+ countries

Nicholas You is a veteran urban specialist and is acknowledged as the leading authority on the reporting of best practices for cities and public authorities.

Since 1974, he has been working as an architect and urban planner with extensive experience working on new town development in Africa, Asia, Middle east and Latin America.

He has spent 30+ years working at the UN on human settlements. Between 1982 and 1993, as Training Officer at UN Centre for Human Settlements, he helped establish regional and country level training and capacity building programmes of the UN and the World Bank for elected officials in municipal finance, municipal management and strategic planning, with a strong focus on West Africa, North Africa, East and Central Europe, Middle East and East Asia. Between 1996 and 2005, he worked at UN-Habitat as a Senior Policy and Strategic Planning Advisor.  He was appointed in 1994 to be the manager of operations for the second UN Conference for Human Settlements (Habitat II). In 2010, he founded and is now honorary chairman of the UN-Habitat World Urban Campaign Steering Committee, based in Nairobi. It is the advocacy and partnership platform for cities in the twenty first century, designed to promote a positive vision for sustainable urbanization and prioritize the urban agenda at the highest level in development policies. He has trained 1000+ city officials in 80+ countries, including 300+ mayors in 30+ countries.

Between 2012 and 2017, he was Chairman of Urban Strategy and Innovation Council at ENGIE, a global reference in low-carbon energy and services, where he advised on issues and challenges facing cities in the future. Between 2010-2014, he was Chair, Assurance Group, Urban Infrastructure Initiative at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, based in Geneva, helping technology companies to engage with cities early in the process of strategic planning and in looking at technology options.

He has served as an adjunct to the Center for Livable Cities, Ministry of National Development, Singapore 2015-2019 developing policy-oriented case studies on sustainable urban development, smart city approaches, housing, innovative partnerships and innovative business and finance models and curating the Global Mayors’ Forum.

He is currently the Executive Director of the Guangzhou Institute for Urban Innovation, convenes the biennial International Seminar on Learning from Urban Innovation, manages a multi-stakeholder knowledge creation and capacity building platform with government, academia and research, industry and civil society in urban innovation.

He is also Principal author and team leader for the U20/G20 White Paper on Mainstreaming Gender Equality, contributor to the U20 white papers on Youth Empowerment and Social Inclusion (2020) and contributor to local government input to U20 Asia/Pacific (2021).

He has a Masters in Architecture & Urban Planning from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and a Postgraduate degree in Economics from University of Geneva, an executive course on Marketing & Communications from University of California, Berkeley and executive course on Strategic planning & management from Columbia Business School.