Foto Ana Lago

Project: Development of a model for university-city collaboration towards sustainable transformation in the city of Madrid.

Delivery of the SDGs relies upon urban transformation processes, such as the achievement of climate neutrality in cities. As a part of the “100 Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities by 2030” programme, the city of Madrid has to deliver tangible results by 2030. Therefore, the city will become a testing bed for the implementation of urban planning projects and policies that move towards a green, just, and healthier city.

This project will consist of a set of case studies that examine Madrid’s local initiatives and tactical urban interventions that are being implemented to achieve Madrid’s 2030 climate-neutral agenda. While technology is a strong ally in combatting the climate crisis, strengthening the connections between differing academic disciplines and across public and private sectors is key to enable urban transformations that are socially equitable. Further understanding how “urban transformation” is defined and operationalized through localized case studies, can also help ground spatial and social equity questions such as: "where, why and to whom" is the transformation for. Therefore, my research questions are: 1) How is “urban transformation” being defined in each of these local projects? 2) What knowledge is being generated by the collaborative processes between private and public actors in each of these projects? And lastly, in what ways can these projects allow us to reimagine the design of governance structures and the economic reasoning needed to deliver tangible urban sustainability goals for 2030?


Ana is a researcher and economist focused on the response of cities to the extreme events posed by the climate crisis. Having worked at the BCorp Natura&Co from 2014-2018 —Brazil's leading developer of products based on the biodiversity of the Brazilian flora— Lago learned to implement public affairs strategies, and now reimagines how the concept of sustainability can move from corporate social responsibility initiatives to transforming cities that benefit people.

Ana holds an MS in Urban Ecologies from Parsons School of Design, where she developed an investigation on alternative water supply systems that emerged in São Paulo, Brazil, following the water accessibility crisis of 2015. This research project earned the Student Research Award from The New School. Since graduation in December 2020, she has shared her research findings accross different constituencies such as the Latin American Studies Congress, and as public lecturer at the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University in Fall 2021. Ana is currently a PhD candidate at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.