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International development

Partnering with development and humanitarian organisations to help strengthen the impact of their work.

Arup International Development is a specialist, not-for-profit business within Arup. We partner with development and humanitarian organisations to help them make best use of resources in combating poverty and vulnerability, and increasing wellbeing and resilience.

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Clarity and rigour

We believe in 'getting to the heart of the problem’ and can help shape projects right from the outset. We provide strategic advice, technical expertise, assessment and evaluation, to help our partners get the best results at organisational, programme or project level. Our areas of focus are sustainable buildings and infrastructure, community and urban resilience, disaster response and reconstruction.

Our core team of international development professionals are able to tap into the unique multidisciplinary Arup network of over 11,000 people, across five continents. This allows us to put the right team on each project, regardless of location and sensitive to the cultural context.

Our professional expertise and deep understanding of international development sets us apart. We are able to unpack complex challenges and bring greater clarity and rigour to the field.

Collaborate for enduring change

We believe in collaboration with our partners and communities. Working together we are stronger and better equipped to bring about enduring change. It’s why many of our relationships with partners are long-standing.

Through our six-year partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation on the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network we are helping to build climate change resilience for poor and vulnerable people. With a not-for-profit humanitarian, development and peacebuilding support organisation, we are helping to improve the speed, quality, resilience and sustainability of infrastructure projects delivered globally.We have partnered with Habitat for Humanity on a number of projects, helping them to respond effectively to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, strengthening their capacity to help slum dwellers in Bangladesh and influencing the future effectiveness of their shelter response to humanitarian crises.

Sharing knowledge

We believe in sharing new knowledge and lessons learned for the benefit of all. A great example is the City Resilience Framework, supported by The Rockefeller Foundation and developed by Arup. Our tool enables cities to understand and measure their adaptability to shocks and stresses, and thus inform and shape urban planning, practice and investment.

Equally, our development of ASPIRE, a software based tool for assessing sustainability and poverty reduction in developing countries, has been used to share learning across countries and programmes.

A strong track record of improved outcomes

With successful outcomes in over 30 countries we have a strong track record of helping many development and humanitarian organisations, and the people they’re mandated to help. Whether this is achieving clarity where there is complexity, greater efficiency, or improving the speed, quality and sustainability of projects.

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Global contact

Jo da Silva
  • Jo da Silva

    Jo da Silva

    Your best solution to date?

    Developing the strategy and co-ordinating the efforts of over 100 humanitarian agencies to provide transitional shelter in Sri Lanka following the Indian Ocean Tsunami (2005) on behalf of UNHCR.

    Why is it significant?

    60,000 transitional shelters were built in 6 months, which enabled families to begin to re-build their lives whilst reconstruction got underway. This was a result of cross-sectoral collaboration combining engineering, programme management and humanitarian expertise.

    Your particular skill?

    Buildings, infrastructure, disaster risk reduction, programme management.


    Using my skills to create solutions to complex problems that will help improve the lives of others.

    Why Arup?

    I set up Arup International Development as a not-for-profit business within the Arup Group, so that Arup is able to make a greater contribution to humanitarian and development work than we are able to do through our charitable giving and volunteering. Humanitarian and development agencies are facing new challenges working in urban environments or on complex programmes, which require technical expertise, analytical skills, innovative thinking, and new approaches to programme management. These are Arup’s strengths, and I believe that our professional expertise, deep technical knowledge and unique geographical spread, can bring great benefit to the sector.

    Anything else?

    First woman to deliver the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE), 9th International Brunel Lecture, entitled ‘Shifting Agendas: from response to resilience – the role of the engineer in disaster risk reduction’ (2012); Officer of the British Empire (OBE) for services to engineering and to humanitarian relief (2011); Fellow, Royal Academy of Engineering (2010); British Expertise Individual of the Year (2006).

  • Global International Development Leader
  • Sam Kernaghan

    Sam Kernaghan

    Your best solution to date?

    Working as part of the Rockefeller Foundation team which is designing and implementing a $60m programme to build resilience to climate change in 10 fast urbanising cities in Asia (Vietnam, India, Indonesia and Thailand).

    Why is it significant?

    In early 2008 when the work was conceived, there were few models of how to achieve the ambitious results Rockefeller were seeking. We have been able to successfully shape and coordinate a programme which is now considered a global benchmark.

    Your particular skill?

    Working at multiple scales (with civil society, business, and government) and integrating the diverse technical inputs (from engineers, planners, scientists and economists) required to create robust urban solutions in a changing climate.


    Bringing together skills and expertise from the global network at Arup to improve the quality and effectiveness of the international development sector.

    Why Arup?

    I saw the opportunity to join the skills of 11,000+ engineers, planners and designers across the world, with the work of impressive organisations like MercyCorp, Rockefeller Foundation, UNOPS and IFRC.

    Anything else?

    I contributed to the first National Spatial Policy and Plan for Sri Lanka in 2006 which provided the framework for post-tsunami reconstruction in Sri Lanka.

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Explore our work

A community workshop in Sri Lanka

Project: Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction Study

Undertaking research to identify lessons learned and new ideas in Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction programmes.

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Can Tho city, Vietnam.

Project: Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN)

Building climate change resilience for poor and vulnerable people.

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Exterior photo of a school in Nepal.

Project: Danish Red Cross integrated programming study

Helping the Danish Red Cross to better understand integrated programming.

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