The PASCAL International Observatory is a global alliance of researchers, policy analysts, decision makers and locally engaged practitioners from government, higher education, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the private sector. It is organised around university centres in Africa (University of Johannesburg), the Americas (Rutgers University), Asia (University of the Philippines), Australia (RMIT) and Europe (University of Glasgow), each responsible for its activities in that geographical region. Collectively PASCAL provides an observatory role through interpreting emerging approaches to city and regional development and helps mobilise this knowledge as a basis for policy action. Each of its centres also leads research and development projects related to its key focal points: place, social capital and learning cities. 

PASCAL has its origins in a major conference organised by the OECD in Melbourne in 2002 on the importance of learning cities and regions for regional development. PASCAL's focus is on the development and renewal of place. It gives special emphasis to the role of social capital and lifelong learning in these processes, considering how sustainable economic, social and cultural development can be achieved to the benefit of the communities concerned.  Its Learning City Networks put particular emphasis on sustainable urban development.