Jane Samuels

Jane Samuels, Trustee, Commonwealth Human Ecology Council (CHEC)

Jane Samuels is a senior urban advisor working in sustainable human settlements in over 18 countries; Asia, Arab States, Africa, Middle East, Europe, Latin America and North America. Over the last 20 years she has worked with multilateral and bilateral agencies, including UNDP and UN-HABITAT, government agencies including UK DFID, Norway MFA and Sweden Sida, Council of Europe and NGOs, private institutions and foundations. She has lectured at universities and spoken at conferences.

Jane co-designed and built an eco-house in 1980’s after a degree in criminal justice. In the 1990’s Jane retrained in architecture and community planning with a focus on low carbon design with leading architects and environmental engineers in the UK. From 2001 – 2004 Jane worked for UK DFID with the Nobel economists Amartya Sen to apply his capability approach to global urban development. The aim of more participation, overseen by participatory governance framework was to ensure more human agency in long term sustainable planning and the appropriate provision of services increasing livelihoods and local economies. Jane’s work in gender, microfinance, culture, heritage, spatial justice and identity formations in the built environment became cross cutting themes in project design and implementation. Her book, published for UK DFID, Removing Unfreedoms: Citizens as the Agents of Change in Urban Development sets out Amartya Sen’s ideals as a framework to re-think project design and strategic policy including monitoring and evaluations to create a more equitable, sustainable and peaceful future for all.

More recently Jane’s work in youth-led development for UN-HABITAT’s World Urban Forum in global slum upgrading, post-conflict countries and fragile states has taken on more significance as the warning of climate change, low carbon development and climate resilience finally becomes mainstream.

Jane was invited to join CHEC’s governing board in 2012 having met the founder Zena Daysh many years earlier and admired her greatly. Jane has worked with the CHEC’s project committee and currently chairs CHEC’s urban pollinator’s strategy steering group to raise the issues of the impact of climate change and pesticides on biodiversity and food security across the Commonwealth.

In 2021, Jane was part of the CHEC delegates team that attended COP26 in Glasgow.

Book and selected publications

  • Norway MFA – Cultural Heritage for Slums 2010 for World Habitat Day in Oslo
  • Sweden Sida Urban Policy 2006
  • Author/editor UK DFID: Removing Unfreedoms citizens as agents of change in urban development. Practical Action 2004 UK ISBN 978185339606
  • UN- HABITAT Brussels Office Discussion paper with Amartya Sen – Removing Unfreedom’s, Citizen’s of Change sharing new policy frame works for urban development
  • UN- HABITAT Brussels Office: Freedom, Culture and urban revitalisation. Background support paper.
  • Union for International Architects Bursa Turkey 2005 – Freedom Culture and Urban Revitalisation
  • UCLA Graduate Urban Planning Amartya Sen’s capability freedoms 2007
  • American Journal of Evaluation, Amartya Sen’s governance capability freedoms 2006
  • RIBA: World Architecture Magazine, 2003 Samaria Architect –Romi Khosla
  • Building for the Future: Eco-design 2002
  • Amnesty International Global Guatemala target newspaper (Coordinated and produced) 1980
  • Berkeley University Poetry Review – Editor Guggenheim small publishers Award 1980