Scholar at University College London
Narjes Zivdar is a development practitioner and postgraduate scholar awarded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) at Development Planning Unit of the University College London. She holds a master’s degree in landscape architecture and environmental planning and an academic certificate in sustainable development planning focused on urban water governance from Delft University of Technology. Since 2015, Narjes has worked alongside community-based organisations and environmental justice networks, and served as a research, monitoring and evaluation consultant for the international development agencies including FAO of the United Nations, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), Danish Refugee Council, Relief International and UNESCO’s World Heritage Initiatives. She has taught in an open university in Tehran and has the experience of field interventions for the most marginalized groups including refugees, the indigenous populations, and local communities across the world and primarily in the water-sensitive regions of her home country, Iran.
She presented several research papers in the international conferences including the 6th UNESCO UNITWIN conference on culture and development (2019) in KU Leuven, Belgium where she gave a lecture on Community-based Rehabilitation of Indigenous Hydraulic Systems and Agricultural Heritage Landscapes in Iran (Persian Qanats). She also published several peer-reviewed papers and three book chapters on evidence-based, integrative, and participatory development planning with Springer Nature. Her recently published research introduces a GIS-based and multi-layer assessment framework for achieving urban resilience and addressing the increasingly widespread and complex environmental, economic, cultural, and political challenges around water infrastructures and services in the cities with an emphasis on a broader appreciation of socio-economic processes in planning rather than the limited focus on the physical aspects. Attentive to environmental, spatial, and social justice as well as indigenous resistance and autonomy, she increasingly explores decolonial and alternative development pathways by hearing the voice of marginalized and indigenous groups, and by conducting critical ethnography on the vernacular knowledge and communal management of water. Her ongoing research project in this regard which is titled “Transition by Tradition: Rethinking the Governance of Water Infrastructures” has been selected for presentation in the 2nd UNESCO conference on water and global change (2021) at UNESCO HQ in Paris.