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Naji Makarem

Founder & Managing Partner

I co-founded UrbanEmerge back in 2017 with Andreas Beavor (Based in China), Jonathan Wilkes (Finance Director based in London) and Emeritus Professor Allen J. Scott (based in Los Angeles). My academic and consulting research is driven by a deep sense of passion and commitment to transforming our economies into just, ecological and circular regional economies. 


I began my career in banking before doing my MBA followed by a short stint in management consultancy which is when I switched careers from business to international development. I did my Masters in Local Economic Development at LSE, volunteered in Brazil conducting impact evaluations for an NGO before starting my PhD in Urban Planning at UCLA followed by my teaching position since 2013 at UCL, at the Development Planning Unit, known as the DPU.

I am an Associate Professor in the Political Economy of Development and co-Director of the Masters in Urban Economic Development. I lead the practice module where we train our students to develop frameworks of analysis and engage in practical research. My PhD and subsequent co-authored book, "The rise and fall or urban economies: Lessons from San Francisco and California" has brought my attention to the importance of social networks, business and civic organisation, municipal and regional governance and an appropriate shared regional vision in urban economic development. 


Since 2013 I have conducted research projects for development agencies such as the World Bank, the FCDO, UK Aid and UNIDO, and private sector clients including the GSMA, CDC Group (UK government impact investors) and Digital Catapult. My recent consulting work for UNIDO has focused on developing a Poverty Graduation Strategy for Sindh province in Pakistan. Our proposed strategy is called Sustainable Sindh, a bottom-up (community-driven) and top-down (provincial and municipal government-enabled) strategy to develop an ecological and circular regional economy in the region.


I am passionate about transforming our linear economic models based on unsustainable and degenerative extraction, consumption and waste/pollution, into ecological and circular models of regenerative and inclusive regional development. Ecological and circular regional economies we are beginning to predict are by their very nature more inclusive than the global linear economy.


I have been committed to plastic-free shopping since the start of 2021 (and when available, organic- see photos on Instagram). 


I am based in London and play the guitar. 

LinkedIn Profile

Academic profile at UCL

UrbanEmerge Instagram

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