2020 Beirut


IGU Urban Geography Commission annual meeting - 23rd -27th August 2020 - Beirut





The Urban Commission of the International Geographical Union (IGU) in collaboration with the Geography Department of Saint-Joseph University of Beirut is pleased to invite you to its 2020 Annual Conference, taking place in

the Campus des Sciences Humaines of Saint-Joseph University of Beirut


C16-37 - Urban Commission: Urban Challenges in a global world, IGU

Geography Department, Saint-Joseph University of Beirut, Lebanon

Institute of Geography and Sustainability, Geoscience and Environment Faculty, Univ. Lausanne, Switzerland

Faculty of Architecture, Design and Built Environment, Beirut Arab University, Lebanon




Conference dates: 23rd – 27th August 2020 + 2 days of field trip

Call for papers: December 2019

Deadline for abstracts submission:  31st January 2020

Acceptance of abstracts: 15th March 2020


Registration and payment:

Registration: before 10th of June 2020


Campus des Sciences Humaines, Saint-Joseph University of Beirut

Rue de Damas

B.P. 17-5208 - Mar Mikhael 

Beirut 1104 2020



Papers are invited to address the special topic 'CITIES FACING MIGRATION PRESSURE’.

Migration is a truly global phenomenon with movements, both within nations and internationally across borders. Migrations can be voluntary or forced by natural disasters or wars. Migration and urbanization are often interlinked processes, and cities continue to attract people in search of a better life, greater job prospects and services but also to practice tourism and leisure. Migration involves complexities associated with a diversity of race, religion, ethnicity, language and culture.

Migrants are not only unqualified workers they can also be a source of ideas and innovation. Their way of life, music, creative industries… all play a role in enriching the destination city. But migration can also generate negative effects, especially in developing countries because they will inevitably have economic and social consequence especially when it comes to refugees. Some developing countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Pakistan, Thailand, Uganda… hosts more than 86 % of the world’s refugees in 2019. The impact of the prolonged crisis will be a major burden on host communities and in the cities. The constant arrival of migrants in global or small cities raises questions concerning their impacts on host cities. Where they will be able to settle? in suburbs, in slums? What kind of welcome from city dweller? An increase in the number of workers can affect the prospects of native workers of the labour market competition? What is the availability of social assistance to integrate them in the city?


Another topic will be organized by the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Built Environment,  Beirut Arab University on

Urban Health & well-being 


Besides, participants can submit individual papers, and/or proposals for panel sessions/roundtables, that are linked to the following thematic foci of the Urban Commission: 

1- Complex urban systems and processes of cities’ transformation 

2- Technological innovations, creative activities in cities 

3- Innovative and smart building and transportation in cities 

4- Polycentrism, small and medium-sized cities 

5- Sustainable to resilient cities 

6- Shrinking and ageing cities 

7- Urban governance, planning and participative democracy 

8- Contested social spaces

9- Urban Heritage and Conservation 

10- New concepts and methods in urban studies 


Prof. Anna Krasteva, New Bulgarian University, Dept. of Political Sciences and CERMES

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Contrasting Flows & Pulsating Cities: Balkan Migrations Between Refugee Flows And Successful Integration

The migration champion of Europe – the Balkans suddenly gained this reputation in the beginning of the 90s by creating the largest flows of forced migrations in post-war Europe, a serious outset of security risks. The analytical peculiarity of this period of multiplication and diversification of migration flows was the “flight” of the Western and Eastern Balkans towards two opposing migration poles. The Eastern Balkans were undergoing a transition from politicization to the economization of migration; the WđÁstern – just the opposite, from economization to politicization. The objective of this paper is to analyze the dynamic Balkan migration phenomenon through the double perspective of contrasting flows and pulsating cities. 
The presentation includes three parts. The first part examines three refugee waves: IDPs and refugees from/to former Yugoslavia during the mid-90s wars; the Balkan humanitarian corridor during the peak of the Syrian refugee crisis; the recent wave of refugees in Sarajevo and other Western Balkan cities. The second part analyzes Balkan cities in the double perspective of de-territorialization & re-territorialization through three phenomena: mass emigration; return from both forced and voluntary migrations; and immigration. The third part is a case study of the Lebanese community in Sofia as an emblematic example of successful labour and cultural integration in an ‘open city’.

ANNA KRASTEVA is professor at the Department of Political Sciences, New Bulgarian University, doctor honoris causa of University Lille 3, France, founder and director of CERMES (Centre for Refugees, Migration and Ethnic Studies), editor-in-chief of Southeastern Europe (Brill), guest professor at numerous European Universities; president and member of  numerous international scientific councils. Her main fields of research are migration and asylum politics, citizenship; far-right populism; post-democratic crisis. Her last projects are “Securitization and its impact on human rights and human security” of the Global Campus of Human Rights (leader), “Maximizing the development impact of labor migration in Western Balkans” (leader), “Representations of the crisis and crisis of representation”(Horizon 2020);  “Evaluation of the common European asylum system under pressure and recommendations for further development” (Horizon 2020), Migration Impactt Assesment towards integration and local development (Horizon 2020); She has publications in about twenty countries. Her last book (co-ed) is Citizens’ activism and solidarity movements. Contending with populism. Palgrave, 2019.

Prof. Hany M. Ayad, Alexandria University, Department of Architecture

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Advancing UHWB research and co-production of knowledge in the Middle East: past, current and future collaboration with ISC-UHWB program

Today the importance of health as a cross-cutting and integrating determinant for sustainable development is increasingly recognized, not only for cities but at a global scale. Witness to that are, for example, efforts by WHO and UN-HABITAT to exhibit that health should be perceived as the “pulse” of the New Urban Agenda, and to demonstrate why a ‘Health-In-All-Policies’ approach could be a cost-effective and equitable strategy for urban sustainability.

In this respect, the “Urban Health and Wellbeing: A systems approach (UHWB)” is a global science programme and an interdisciplinary body of the International Science Council (ISC). This programme is established in 2014 and plays an important role in promoting policy-relevant knowledge based on a systems approach that will improve health status, reduce health inequalities and enhance the wellbeing of global urban populations.

This presentation documents the ISC-UHWB work and activities in bringing societal urban agenda and multi-disciplinary research in the academic community in both Lebanon and Egypt. It reviews past and current collaborative endeavours to apply a systems approach to urban health research and community engagement in both countries. It also assesses this ongoing collaboration and defines future actions that could ensure wider regional collaborations and could promote synergies between science and policy in the field of urban health and wellbeing.

HANY M. AYAD is a Professor of regional and urban planning. He received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees from the Faculty of Engineering, Alexandria University, Egypt, and his PhD from the same University as a joint venture with the Illinois Institute of Technology, USA. He has been on Alexandria University in the Department of Architecture since 1987. Prof. Ayad research focuses on the dynamics of urban growth in developing countries as well as the study of cities’ morphologies and evolution. He was involved in several projects with the UN-Habitat and UNDP in Egypt and Syria, and participated in the preparation of urban strategic and participatory guidelines and plans for several Egyptian cities and villages. In 2006, He received the Egyptian National Incentive Award for his work in the renovation of the Pharos area, one of the most important historical parts of Alexandria city. Prof. Ayad was also involved with the ISDF (Informal Settlements Development Facility) in delineating and preparing intervention action plans for several unsafe areas in Egypt. He was a member of the ISC Science Committee for Health and Wellbeing in the Changing Urban Environment: a Systems Analysis Approach (2014-2019).

Prof. Franz W. Gatzweiler, Executive Director of the International Council of Science, Committee "Urban Health and Welll Being: A system approach", Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences


On the Health and Wellbeing of Cities. A Systems Perspective

Since the beginning of the history of cities after the neolithic revolution, around 7500 BCE, cities have been centres of economic development and cultural creativity. The year 2008 marked a historical turning point. For the first time in history, more than half of the global population lived in cities. With the rise of cities, however, also one billion people live in slum conditions worldwide and migration to cities is increasing. At the same time, natural ecosystems and their life-support functions are being degraded by resource use, depletion and pollution. These changes have negative repercussions and threaten the health of people and the planet. In “On the Health and Wellbeing of Cities” I suggest that rethinking urban sustainability needs to be done by taking a systems approach and understanding cities as complex living systems, which are plannable and self-organising. Better understanding urban complex systems have the potential to unlock the creative capacity of people to interact and engage with one other, to provide public goods and services, improve interconnectivity, enhance communication and engage people in the co-creation of health and well-being in cities.

FRANZ W. GATZWEILER is a professor at the Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences and executive director of the International Council for Science’s global interdisciplinary programme on “Urban Health and Wellbeing: a Systems Approach”. He studied Agricultural Economics at the University of Bonn and the Humboldt University of Berlin in Germany. His doctorate research (summa cum laude) was on the ‘Nature of Economic Value and the Value of Nature’. He received stipends and research grants from the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH), the Volkswagen Foundation, the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, the Käthe-Hamburger Kolleg and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He was research fellow at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University, USA established by the late Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom and currently is external affiliated faculty to the Ostrom Workshop. 2015 he earned a habilitation (fakultas docendi) for independent teaching and research in the field of resource economics from the Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany. He was a senior researcher at the Center of Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, Germany from 2004-2014. 

Prof. Ghaleb Faour, Director of the National Centre for Remote Sensing, CNRS

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Urban Expansion in a Fragile and Conflict-Affected Country: The Case of Lebanon between 1963 and 2017

Urban expansion and growth are usually a direct expression of social and economic development. In the last five decades, Lebanon was shaken by a series of large events that redirected its urban expansion, citing among others, the civil war between 1975 and 1990 and lately the Syrian crisis. With lack of an updated national census data, the usage of the remote sensing techniques and high spatial resolutions satellite imageries is necessary to accurately estimate the urban expansion. Thus, in this research, urban areas will be estimated using different satellite sensors in four different major periods (i.e. 1975-1990, 1994-2005, 2005-2013, 2013-2017) in Lebanese history. Results show that in 1963, urban areas corresponded only to approximately 250 km2. This area was nearly tripled after the civil war and followed by the national reconstruction plans, with an area of 767 km2 in 1998. As lands suitable for urban development have largely decreased after 2004, coupled with the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006, urban areas have slightly increased (~40 km2) between 2005 and 2013. At the outbreak of the Syrian civil war and the huge influx of Syrian refugees towards the Lebanese cities, only 7 km2 was increased between 2013 and 2017. More precisely, out of 3875 buildings yearly constructed between 2005 and 2013, more than 71% were shown in urban zones. The other 1100 yearly constructed buildings corresponded to agricultural areas (i.e. 650 annual buildings), forest (i.e. 100 annual buildings) and others (i.e. 350 annual buildings). Such information would greatly help decision-makers and governance bodies to plan future development and expansion policies, particularly where only 58% of the urbanized areas are being covered by urban regulations, leading to chaos in urban growth that has had a negative impact on natural resources in the country. Investigations at municipality or union-of-municipality level would also enable to highlight the best action plans to establish a sustainable development of urban areas.

GHALEB FAOUR holds a Ph.D. in Engineering Science obtained in 1995 from the University of Marseille III - France. He held a Researcher position from 1996 at the Lebanese National Center for Remote Sensing (CNRS) until he got promoted to become a Director of Research and Director of the National Center for Remote Sensing in 2014. His main research interests focus on the development of applied remote sensing technology in the sector of environmental monitoring and natural resources management. He is a Lecturer in Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System at the Lebanese University and the Higher School of Surveyors and Topographers in Lebanon. He had supervised and co-advised more than Ten Ph.D. students and Twenty Master Thesis. He conducted several specialized training courses and consultancies in GIS and Remote Sensing applied to urban planning, management of protected areas, agriculture, desertification, drought, climate change, and integrated water resources with the German International Cooperation (GIZ), UNDP, FAO and the Arab Institute of Forestry and Rangeland. He is the author of more than 50 articles published in peer-reviewed international journals as well as the co-author of “Atlas of Lebanon: Territory and Society” published in 2007 in French language and translated to Arabic in 2012, “Space Atlas of Lebanon” published in 2014 and “Atlas of Lebanon: New Challenges” published in 2016. He is the member of the National GIS Committee in 2002, the National Committee “Delimitation of the Maritime Exclusive Economic Zone” in 2009 and Chairman of the National Committee “Unification of Geospatial Coding” in 2015, created by the Prime Minister Office. Also, he is the member of the Governing Board of the Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education for Western Asia located in Jordan. He is a national reference and representative of Lebanon in the United Nations Institutes UN SPIDER and UN Outer Space since 2010 in the sector of space research and activities. 


Participants who need an invitation letter for VISA APPLICATION, please indicate in the ABSTRACT SUBMISSION PLATFORM.

Visa requirements are indicated on the map below:

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Early career researchers are considered before PhD completion or within 5 years after.

The Commission provides grants to help defray the costs of young participation to the Conference. Please note that, due to limited availability of funds, the IGU Travel Grants provide only the contribution to registration. 

In selecting applicants to receive awards, preference will be given to young or emerging scholars, in particular to those from developing countries. Because the funds available for this awards program are extremely limited, all applicants will be required to find the balance of the costs of participation; applications for 100% support cannot be funded. Please note that full participation in the conference, including the closing ceremony, is required. 
The selection will be made according to an extended abstract of 5-6 pages (longer than the regular abstract). The application to the grant must be indicated in the registration form and in the beginning of the abstract form. The template of abstract is the same, but the abstract must be more consistent in order to better judge of the content.


Extended abstracts should be written within the template provided below and uploaded to the registration platform before 31st January 2020 

The abstracts will only be accepted through this platform submission.





Extended abstracts (around 2-3 pages) should include the following elements: 

• Theoretical background 

• Research questions 

• Methodology 

• Results/findings 

• Significant/general conclusions 

Please use the following template for abstract submission:


Academic: 300 $

Academic retired: 200 $

PhD students: 200 $

Include: 4 lunches, Welcome cocktail, farewell dinner, conference material, excursions

The registration will be opened on the 15 of March 2020


Accompanying persons: 150 $

Include: Welcome cocktail, farewell dinner, excursions + 2 other visits

Post-conference excursions: 100 $ each

Include: Bus, lunch, visit

Registration before 10th of June 2020


5 to 10 minutes walk hotels:

Oaks Beirut hotel

  • Standard Single Room including breakfast for USD 95.00

  • Standard Double Room Including Breakfast for USD 105.00

  • Standard Single/ Double Room excluding breakfast for USD 90.00

 The above rates are subjected to 11% Governmental Tax.


All guests who will stay in Oaks Beirut will benefit from:

  • 1 Complimentary drink voucher
  • 15% Discount of Food & Beverage consumption (excluding room service)
  • 15% Discount on Laundry & Dry Clean
  • Free WIFI throughout the hotel
  • No transfer is needed since Oaks Beirut is facing the USJ Campus - Faculty of Human Science, right across the street (only a step away).

Web site: https://www.oakshotels.com/en/oaks-beirut


Sodeco Suites hotel

  • Single Deluxe Room : $80+11% VAT Bed and Breakfast
  • Double Deluxe Room : $90 + 11% VAT Bed and Breakfast

Web site: https://sodecosuites.com/


15 minutes walk:

Alexandre hotel ****: DBL 70$ / SGL 60$

Other cheap hotels less than 50 $: TBC


Accommodation for students

Residence of the Jesuits

For reservation please contact Mr. Michel SCHEUER: michel.scheuer@usj.edu.lb

  • 4 single rooms at $ 30 / night (Bed & Breakfast)
  • equipped with bathroom, air-conditioned, Wifi network
  • kitchen available 

USJ Residence, Damascus Street

For reservation please contact Mr. Ghassan Abi-Zeid: ghassan.abizeid@usj.edu.lb
Can accommodate up to 18 people.

  • Double room: $ 148 / week
  • Single room: $ 203 / week



Team of the University of Lausanne

Prof. Dr. Céline Rozenblatceline.rozenblat@unil.ch

Mikhail Rogovmikhail.rogov@unil.ch

Andrea Ferloniandrea.ferloni@unil.ch



Team of the Saint Joseph University

Prof. Dr. Liliane Buccianti Barakat: liliane.barakat@usj.edu.lb

Prof. Dr. Jocelyne Adjizian Gerardjgerard@usj.edu.lb

Dr. Rita Zaarourrita.zaarour@usj.edu.lb


  • Prof. Celine Rozenblat, Chair of the IGU Urban Commission, University of Lausanne, Switzerland 
  • Prof. Ayman Afify, Faculty of Architecture, Design and Built Environment, Beirut Arab University, Lebanon
  • Prof. Natacha Aveline, Research director CNRS-Paris, France 
  • Prof. Hany Ayad, Department of Architecture, Alexandria University, Egypt
  • Prof. Ibtihal Y. El-Bastawissi, Dean, Faculty of Architecture, Design and Built Environment, Beirut Arab University, Lebanon

  • Prof. Ludger Basten, Technical University of Dortmund, Germany 
  • Prof. Dani Broitman, Tel Aviv University,  Israel
  • Marcela Dametto, Sao Paulo University, Brazil
  • Dr. Aoife Delaney, Dublin University, Ireland
  • Prof. Liliane Buccianti-Barakat, University Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth, Lebanon 
  • Prof. Javier Delgado Campos, UNAM, Mexico 
  • Andrea Ferloni, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Prof. Franz  Gatzweiler, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Dr. Maria Gunko, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
  • Dr. Shenjing He, University of Hong-Kong, China 
  • Dr. Maedeh Hedayatifard, Iran University of Science and Technology, Tehran, Iran
  • Prof. Markus Hesse, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg
  • Gustavo Nagib, Sao Paulo University, Brazil
  • Dr. Tomoko Kubo, Gifu University, Japan 
  • Dr. Xiande Li, Shanghai Normal University, China
  • Dr. Maria-Jose Pineira Mantinan, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain 
  • Dr. Keisuke Matsui, University of Tsukuba, Japan 
  • Dr. Lidia Mierzejewska, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland 
  • Dr Niamh Moore, University College Dublin, Ireland 
  • Dr. Natsumi Akimoto, Shizuoka University, Japan
  • Dr. Daniel O'Donoghue, Canterbury Christ Church University, United Kingdom
  • Dr. Julio Pedrassoli, University Federal Salvador de Bahia, Brazil 
  • Prof. Weibin Peng, Hangzhou Normal University, China
  • Prof. Reinaldo Paul Pérez Machado, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil 
  • Prof. Petros Petsimeris, University of Paris 1, France 
  • Mikhail Rogov, University of Lausanne, Switzerland 
  • Prof. Manuel Suarez, UNAM, Mexico 
  • Dr. Jun Tsutsumi, University of Tsukuba, Japan 
  • Dr. Iago lestegas Tizon, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain 
  • Prof. Ivan Townshend, University of Lethbridge, Canada 
  • Dr. Jun Yamashita, University of Kyushu, Japan 
  • Dr. Rita Zaarour, University Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth, Lebanon 
  • Prof. Suhong Zhou, Sun Yat Sen University, Guangzhou, China
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