Education / Research

WAT_UNESCO Introduction


WAT_UNESCO are organized annually since 2003 by CUPEUM in different parts of the world namely Europe, North Africa, Middle East and Asia. They gather an international network of over 20 academic institutions to resolve urban development problems that speak to major social, cultural and environmental issues.

CUPEUM organizes yearly WAT_UNESCO themed on developing the outskirts of towns and cities. This event offers an opportunity to engage in discussions on the future of cities. It is supported by 4 UNESCO programmes: MOST (Management of Social Transformations), MAB (Man and Biosphere), IHP (International Hydrological Programme)and Creative Cities Network. The first 3 WATs were held in North Africa and the Middle East: Marrakech, Morocco (2004), Saïda, Lebanon (2005), Mahdia, Tunisia (2006). In 2007, CUPEUM held its first Asian experience in Ganghwa, Republic of Korea. The 2008 edition took place in the suburb of Jinze (Qingpu District, Shanghai region) in China and the following year, at the heart of Kobe, Japan. The city of Montreal hosted the 8th edition in 2011.

The annual WAT_UNESCO is a unique international experimentation opportunity. It gathers over 40 students in architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning and geography from different parts of the globe namely North Africa, Middle East, Asia, North America and Europe. It assembles a panel of experts and international professors to generate sustainable development scenarios for local communities. The WAT is a competition of ideas where winners receive medals from UNESCO. The CUPEUM’s WAT is an incomparable model of learning. Its transdisciplinary and multicultural approach stimulates the implementation of creative and innovative projects for the sustainable development of cities, whether southern or northern. As part of CUPEUM’s "International Observatory of Peripheral Landscapes: Cities and Towns”, these projects are unique laboratories of networking expertise, open dialogues between cultures and reflections on urban design in the 21st century

The WAT_UNESCO’s goals are to:

  • Support intercultural, interdisciplinary and prospective thought on the development and redevelopment of significant sites of the cities hosting this international event;
  • Characterize the major issues of urban development, strength and potentialities of the urban landscape studied;
  • Find structuring and viable development solutions for governments and local stakeholders by implementing projects that address the issues of landscape preservation, enhancement and development;
  • Generate interdisciplinary thinking with professionals and academics (architects, landscape architects, planners, engineers, sociologists, historians, geographers, etc.) and record the results in the CUPEUM’s Observatoire international des paysages urbains : villes et métropoles.