2021 Beirut


IGU Urban Commission annual meeting - Beirut, August 22-28, 2021





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

IGU Urban Geography Commission annual meeting - from 22nd to 28th August 2021


C20.42 - Urban Commission: (Re-)Thinking Cities And The Urban: From The Global To The Local, 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


Due to the postponement of the event, Young scholars who were evaluated as deserving to be supported will receive 150$ each and a certificate for the award.

This year, 8 young scholars will be rewarded.



Walking Tours: 

  • N°1: Downtown Beirut
  • N°2: MIM, Museum of Minerals
  • N°3: Zokak el-Blat District



Conference dates: 22nd – 28th August 2021 + 2 days of field trips

Call for papers: December 2020

Deadline for abstracts submission:  15th of February 2021

Acceptance of abstracts: 1st of April 2021


Registration and payment:

- Openning of registration: 1st of April 2021

- Registration: before 10th of June 2021


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 will they be able to settle? in suburbs, in slums? What kind of welcome from city dwellers? Can the growth of workers affect the prospects of native workers of the labor 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 (B.A.U.) on

Role of Universities in Promoting Urban Health and Well-Being: Research, Awareness, and Outreach

Suggested topics to be covered by this session:

·         Urban Labs as catalysts for promoting health in cities

·         Communicating new knowledge

·         Promoting and coordinating interdisciplinary research and projects

·         Developing methodologies and identifying data needs

·         Building and strengthening capacities


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

- Complex urban systems and processes of cities’ transformation 

- Technological innovations, creative activities in cities 

- Innovative and smart building and transportation in cities 

- Polycentrism, small and medium-sized cities 

- Sustainable to resilient cities 

- Shrinking and ageing cities 

- Urban governance, planning and participative democracy 

- Contested social spaces

- Urban Heritage and Conservation

- New concepts and methods in urban studies 


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 15th February 2021

The abstracts will only be accepted through this platform submission.



To be announced soon


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:


Foreigners (living out of Lebanon)

  • Academic: 300 $
  • Academic retired: 200 $
  • PhD students: 200 $

Include: 4 lunches, Welcome cocktail, farewell dinner, conference material, walking tours 

Accompanying persons: 150 $
Include: Welcome cocktail, farewell dinner, walking tours + 2 other visits


Post-conference excursions: 100 $ each (Include: Bus, lunch, visit)
UNESCO World Heritage Sites

  • August 29: Baalbeck Roman Temples, City of Aanjar, City of Zahlé, Ksara Wine Caves
  • August 30: Tyre, visit of the archaeological sites, City of the old Souk of Saïdz

Registration before 10th of June 2021

Residents in Lebanon
All expenses related to the events of the conference (post-conference excursion, gala dinner, etc.) will be charged upon registration.



5 to 10 minutes walk hotels:

Smallville hotel

  • Single Premium King Room at the rate of 100$ + 11% VAT per night per room
  • Double Premium King Room ( King Size Bed ) or Double Deluxe Twin Room ( Twin Bed ) at the rate of 115$ + 11% VAT per night per room

The above rates include:

  • Free International Breakfast
  • Free Access to the Gym, Rooftop Pool
  • Free Wireless Internet in the Lobby and Inside Room

In case the Guests want to book directly and to benefit from the above rate: they should email me CC the Reservations department  and they should mention the code: IGU Meeting in Beirut

The booking contact is Mrs. Marie-Claire Kerbaj: marieclaire.kerbaj@thesmallville.com

Web site: https://www.thesmallville.com/

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 ****

  • Single Room: $60 per room, per night
  • Double Room: $70 per room, per night


  • 11% VAT not included
  • Buffet breakfast (served in the restaurant) is offered
  • Wi-Fi Internet is available free of charge
  • Free parking is available for customers

For all reservations, please send an e-mail with the details of the credit card (visa or master card only) to the following address: res@hotelalexandre.com no later than 07/31/2020. The reference number: O.CA - 100120/01 for Colloque IGU Urban Geography Commission Annual Meeting
General conditions: The rooms are available from 2 p.m. and must be vacated by 12 p.m.
Guarantee / Cancellation policy: In the event of cancellation of a stay, it must be sent in writing 15 days before the arrival date.
Late cancellation or no-show: penalty of one night charged.

Web site: http://www.hotelalexandre.com/

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


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

Visa requirements are indicated on the map below:

Visa req.png


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

Anna Krasteva_Photo.jpg

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 labor 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 program and an interdisciplinary body of the International Science Council (ISC). This program 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 endeavors 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 Well Being: A system approach", Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences


Health and Wellbeing in Low Entropy, Complex Living Urban Systems

In order to understand urban health and wellbeing, I look at cities as complex, living urban systems and how they have emerged, not just since the early agrarian civilizations some 10,000 years BCE ago, but since life itself has emerged around 3.7 billion years ago. Given that a majority (around 4.3 billion) of people on earth live in urban systems today, that some 7 million people die prematurely from air pollution alone, and the number of urban slum dwellers is increasing, it seems relevant to provide a comprehensive understanding of current risks to urban population’s health and wellbeing from an interdisciplinary and big history perspective. I aim at doing so by seeking answers to the questions of how and why life and cities have emerged as complex systems, what constitutes the health and wellbeing of complex urban systems and how current urban sustainability challenges could be addressed albeit climate change and a continuously growing urban populations, which is projected to reach 7 billion by 2050. 

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 program 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 a 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. 

Dr. 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 a lack of updated national census data, the usage of 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 the municipality or union-of-municipality level would also enable to highlight the best action plans to establish a sustainable development of urban areas.

Dr. 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 a 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 a 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. 


  • 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



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

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Institute of Geography - University of Lausanne - CH-1015 Lausanne
Tel. +41 21 692 30 70