Ebru Gencer is the Founding Executive Director of the Center for Urban Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience (CUDRR+R) and the President of its Board of Directors.
Dr. Gencer holds a Ph.D from the Urban Planning Program at Columbia University (Ph.D, 2007; MPhil 2001). Her doctoral dissertation examined “The Interplay between Natural Disasters and Sustainable Development.” Dr. Gencer also holds a MSc in Urban Preservation and a Diploma in City and Regional Planning from Mimar Sinan University in Istanbul. In 2016, she was a nominee for the AXA Foundation Award for Urban Vulnerability on the Global South. She was formerly a recipient of World Bank’s Young Scientist Applied Research Grants on Sustainable Development (2003-2005), and a Fellow of the United Nations University Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) Academy on Social Vulnerability (2007).
Before founding CUDRR+R, Dr. Gencer was involved in DRR and research projects in South-Eastern Europe, Turkey, the Americas and the Caribbean with different capacities. She was the International Consultant for Urban Planning and Disaster Resilience for UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), analyzing disaster risk reduction practices of the local governments in Western Balkans and Turkey. As an associate researcher at the Euro-Mediterranean Climate Change Center (CMCC), she worked on developing a toolbox for resiliency profile of cities as part of the EU (FP7) funded CASCADE (Climate Change Adaptation Strategies for Water Resources and Human Livelihoods in the Coastal Zones of Small Island Developing States) project. As a think-tank member of the EU CATALYST and a consultant with the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM) in Venice, she developed research on the vulnerability characteristics of urban settlements in Central America and the Caribbean Regions.
From 2001 to 2011, Dr. Gencer held different positions at Columbia University. As an adjunct research scientist at the Earth Institute, she was the coordinating lead author of a Natural Hazards and Disaster Risk Management Report prepared for the Government of the Dominican Republic. As a researcher at the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, she joined the University Academic Fund Project on the “Development of an Integrated Methodology for Risk Assessment and Risk Mitigation of Major Metropolitan Areas Subjected to Natural and Man-Made Hazards.” And as an adjunct assistant professor at the Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation and Planning (GSAPP), she co-taught the Urban Planning Studio on Disaster Resilient Planning.
Dr. Gencer is also an academic lecturer. Since 2018, she has been an Adjunct Associate Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University and since 2019 a Visiting Professor at the International University of Catalonia in Barcelona. From 2015-2020, Dr. Gencer was a Steering Committee member of UN’s Making Cities Resilient Campaign and is the Co-Chair of the Urban Planning Advisory Group (UPAG) to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Dr. Gencer has been an invited participant at distinguished events at the Atlantic Council (Washington DC), Future Dialogue (New Delhi), and Keystone Conference (Bonn), as well as several UN Conferences (New York, Geneva, Sendai and Cancun) among others. She is an Associate Editor of the Progress in Disaster Science Journal and a reviewer of several academic journals in urban planning/development and disaster and climate change.
Dr. Gencer is also the author of several books, articles, and reports including Resilience Learning Module: Fundamentals of Resilience Governance and Development (UCLG, UN-Habitat, UNDRR 2020); A Handbook for Local Government Leaders: How to Make Cities Resilient (UNISDR 2017); Local Government Powers for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR 207); A Compendium of DRR Practices in Cities of the Western Balkans and Turkey (UNISDR and WMO 2014), The Interplay between Urban Development, Vulnerability and Risk Management (Springer 2013), and Natural Disasters, Vulnerability and Sustainable Development (VDM Verlag 2008). She was one of the Coordinating Lead Authors of the Urban Climate Change and Research Network’s (UCCRN) Second Assessment Report on Climate Change and Cities (Cambridge University Press, 2018).