New global competition to encourage young people to solve problems facing the world’s cities

A new global competition to encourage students and young people to find solutions to the issues facing the world’s rapidly expanding cities was launched today.

The competition run by RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) to mark its 150th anniversary offers a prize of £50,000 for the global winner to help implement their idea.

With three million people moving to cities every week, the growth of the urban population is one of the biggest challenges facing society today.  This rapid expansion is putting ever more strain on urban infrastructure and services. Many city dwellers live in slums or poor quality housing; many put up with poor air quality and inadequate transport links.

The competition, the Cities for our Future, was launched in partnership with the United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO and the Association of Commonwealth Universities. The challenge calls on young people to come up with new ideas to help tackle the most pressing problems in relation to the rapid pace of urbanisation, impact of climate change on cities and resource scarcity.

The best 12 entries from around the world will be shortlisted for the global prize and receive support and advice from RICS qualified professionals, before an overall winner is announced in November 2018.

The competition asks entrants to propose solutions to specific issues affecting 24 global cities.  Each of these issues has been identified by built environment professionals working in the specific city or region. Cities selected include: Mumbai, Lagos, Beijing and Manchester.

  • Mumbai: How can coastal cities like Mumbai better protect their populations from the increased threat of flooding?
  • Lagos: How can cities such as Lagos build more affordable housing to keep pace with rapidly expanding populations?
  • Beijing: Cities like Beijing have already taken steps to improve air quality.  What more can they do to ensure cleaner air as they expand?
  • Manchester: How can growing cities like Manchester use data and technology to improve quality of life and work for their citizens?

The competition is open to all but RICS is particularly interested in receiving entries from students and young people with an interest in the built environment.  Online entries can be made at:”

Sean Tompkins, RICS CEO said: “By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. A seismic change has occurred since 1900 when two-thirds of the population lived in rural communities. The world’s cities are growing all the time, creating a range of challenges that will need to be addressed if they are to become safe, clean and comfortable places to live for future generations. Throughout the Royal Institution’s 150 years, chartered surveyors have been crucial to urban development all over the globe and we are proud to be running this competition to help stimulate innovation and find practical ideas to improve our cities.”

Dr Beth Taylor, Chair of the UKNC for UNESCO, said: “As more and more of the world’s population become city dwellers, finding ways to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities – has never been more important. I believe that the innovations generated by the Cities for our Future competition could help deliver essential solutions, and I am sure that engaging young minds will help provide the spark needed to improve the lives of urban dwellers around the globe.”

Dr Joanna Newman, Chief Executive and Secretary General of the ACU, added: “‘The themes of Cities for our Future – urbanisation, climate change and resource scarcity – are of critical importance across the Commonwealth. Many countries are facing existential threat in these areas, whether that be from rising sea levels, drought, crop failure or natural disasters.”

‘Universities and their students have a pivotal role to play in finding solutions to these issues, and many of our member institutions have a wealth of expertise in this area. One example is the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who are hosting the ACU Summer School in July 2018, focusing on the theme of ‘Designing and Creating Sustainable Communities’.

“By partnering with RICS and the UK National Commission for UNESCO on Cities for our Future, the ACU is confident that we can galvanise the knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm of our diverse membership, and encourage the development of solutions to these pressing problems.”

The Cities for our Future competition is open for entries from 17th January to 31st May 2018.  Regional judging will take place in June and July 2018 with the regional winners receiving help and support from RICS professionals in their region to develop their ideas.  A global shortlist will be announced in July 2018 and an overall winner unveiled in November 2018.

To find out more about Cities for Our Future and enter visit