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Community Involvement: Shelter

Arcadis and UN-Habitat contribute to one of the most urgent challenges in the world: sustainable urbanization. UN-Habitat’s mission is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities by improving the quality of life of citizens around the world. Arcadis supports UN-Habitat in facing these urban challenges by providing pro bono expertise through the Shelter program, a global partnership that makes a real difference.

The Shelter program 

The Shelter program, the partnership of Arcadis with UN-Habitat has been set up in 2010 Habitat with financial support of the Lovinklaan foundation. Over 100 missions, trainings and other Shelter activities have been organized in Asia, Africa, and Latin America and more than 500 Arcadis experts from a range of disciplines have been actively engaged in the Shelter program by sharing their knowledge and expertise. This combination of expertise from a wide variety of backgrounds is aimed at improving living conditions in cities around the world, especially for the urban poor. Moreover, Arcadis is a main sponsor of the World Urban Campaign, an initiative of UN-Habitat designed to increase public awareness and to address the social, economic and environmental challenges of urbanization through the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

The challenge

As our towns and cities grow at unprecedented rates, urbanization is one of the most pressing challenges facing the global community in the 21st century. Making sustainable improvements to the urban environment is critical to delivering lasting results for all our communities. Arcadis is well positioned to support UN-Habitat and to address this urgent challenge.

The talent

Arcadis’ talents span the fields of infrastructure, water, environment, buildings and urban planning at the highest levels. Moreover, the partnership with UN-Habitat integrates fully with our strategic ambition to play a meaningful role in our communities and to use our services and expertise in ways that positively impact the world. By combining the global reach of Arcadis and the humanitarian mission of UN-Habitat, we can make a real difference in the world.

Shelter Program activities

The Shelter program activities focus on three main activities, the Shelter Academy, the Shelter missions and the Shelter workshops. For a more detailed overview of all the Arcadis Shelter Program Activities you can click here.

Picture: Location of Shelter activities in 2010-2019


Our partners

UN-Habitat is the lead United Nations agency for housing and urban development. Its mandate is to promote socially, economically and environmentally sustainable urban development and adequate housing for all. It is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya.

Lovinklaan's mission is to promote the interests of Arcadis employees, to provide for the continuity of Arcadis and to stimulate employee ownership. The Shelter Program is financially supported by the Lovinklaan Foundation, Arcadis’ largest shareholder.

Pictures: UN member states present at the Habitat III conference in Quito approved the New Urban Agenda


The Promise of Shelter

Read our book The Promise of Shelter (2010-2016) which is created because of the celebration of six years of UN-Habitat and Arcadis partnership to improve quality of life in emerging cities. Please be patient while loading (10MB).

Shelter Program activities

The Shelter program activities focus on three main activities, the Shelter Academy, the Shel-ter missions, and the Shelter workshops:

Shelter Academy

The Shelter Academy is an annual program of a week in which high-level local officials from Asia, Africa and Latin America will make an implementation and action plan looking at case studies on climate adaptation and mitigation in their region. They do this with the help of Arcadis experts, workshops and concrete examples of Arcadis’ projects worldwide. The Academy promotes learning and capacity building on the topic of cities and climate change and fosters a meaningful dialogue on how cities are responding to these challenges. The Shelter Academy is part of Arcadis’ commitment to the World Urban Campaign which is undertaken jointly in partnership with UN-habitat’s Research and Capacity Building Branch.

Picture: Shelter Academy


Shelter Missions

The shelter missions aim to address urban challenges that face world’s cities and help them to meet each challenge safely, securely, build their resilience and improves quality of life. Arcadis send experts to urban areas worldwide on request of UN-Habitat on missions in order to share knowledge, offer training, capacity building sessions, and provide theoretical and technical support to UN- Habitat projects.

Pictures: Shelter mission for support earthquake recovery in Bungamati Nepal


Shelter Workshops

Arcadis is organizing many workshops each year to raise awareness, promote participation and generate knowledge on the implementation of the new urban agenda. The workshops are divided by three different workshops:

  • Urban Thinkers Campuses (UTC’S): Arcadis sends experts to UTC’s worldwide to actively participate at those Campuses and to contribute in this way to the implementation of the new urban agenda. The Urban Thinkers Campuses are an initiative of the World Urban Campaign, an advocacy and partnership platform, which is organized by UN-Habitat and sponsored by Arcadis as part of the Shelter program. The Urban Thinkers Campuses are two- or three-day meetings where urban stakeholders gather to discuss problems and solutions for better cities. 

Picture: Urban Thinkers Campus in Palermo, Italy


  • Shelter Arcadis workshops: the Shelter Arcadis workshops are organized internally by Arcadians focused on the best way to implement the new urban agenda in the city or region of the Arcadis office, promotion of the Shelter program and the opportunity to join the Shelter activities and/or to gather information for a Shelter mission. The Shelter Arcadis Workshops are lunch meetings that take around 2 hours.

Pictures: Shelter Arcadis Workshops in Berlin, Santiago, Sao Paolo, and Warsaw


  • Shelter External Workshops: The Shelter External Workshops are organized on request of UN-Habitat with external parties. The Workshops are organized by Arcadians in order to share knowledge and expertise on topics related to the Shelter program.

Picture: Shelter External Workshop at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies at the Erasmus University Rotterdam


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Bert Smolders

Shelter Program Manager Ask me a question
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