Liveable urban futures

West Xining, China. Photo: Tim Zachernuk via Flickr

The complexity of urban systems and the global sustainability challenges facing society require inter-and transdisciplinary research that combines context-sensitive regional and global approaches to inform and challenge solutions. Although traditions of addressing urban complexities have long existed in the social sciences, humanities, engineering, and natural sciences, they have barely scratched the surface of efforts to understand crosscutting issues, such as: the many processes and interconnections through which resource use and environmental burdens driven by urbanization induce environmental change across time, space and scale; the implications for risk and socioeconomic vulnerability of alterations in ecosystems and in water, carbon and other biogeochemical cycles, as they alter the frequency and intensity of environmental disturbances and stresses; and the limits, options and barriers all these processes pose to effective, city-relevant interventions seeking to move to more sustainable and resilient urbanization pathways.

There is considerable fertile ground for innovative research to promote linkages across established or rapidly emerging areas of urban and environmental research and the Future Earth research themes. A number of urban research and practice communities are interested in new opportunities for enriched collaboration and for expanding and enhancing the ‘urban’ research agenda under the Future Earth framework. This is the impetus for the creation of the initiative ‘Livable Urban Futures’, which intends to define critical pathway(s) for co-produced interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary urban research within its framework.

The Liveable Urban Futures initiative will produce two outputs from this process:

1)      The Urban Planet: Patterns and Pathways to the Cities We Want.  This is an edited volume contributing theoretical and empirical insights into global urbanization and emphasizing the need for a new research agenda and the urgency of understanding the rapidly urbanizing planet. It will bring together scholars from a diverse range of disciplines including sociology, ecology, evolutionary biology, geography, economics, anthropology, political science and engineering as well as important urban stakeholders to address urbanization and make the case that urbanization matters globally. 

2) The Future Earth Urban Platform (FEUP).  This will include the development of an overall governance structure for an urban platform within Future Earth, as well as initial research projects to be associated with the platform.  It will also create a process for the creation of new urban research projects under Future Earth.  This initiative is headed by a core group of individuals who attended the Liveable Urban Futures Scoping Meeting on March 12-13, 2015, at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, USA.  Members include: Patricia Romero Lankao, David Simon, Thomas Elmqvist, Corrie Griffith, Xuemei Bai, Timon McPhearson, Marcus Moench, Jon Padgham, and Debra Roberts.  This group is currently incorporating ideas and outputs from the Boulder scoping meeting into a FEUP Initial Design Report.  It will provide descriptions of four initial research activities created in the spirit of Future Earth as well as the broader purpose, functions, and potential governance structure of the FEUP. 

A full update on the recent activities of Liveable Urban Futures can be found here. We greatly encourage participation from the wider urban community.  Please contact the UGEC IPO with any comments or questions.

Corrie Griffith

Executive OfficerUGEC - Urbanization and Global Environmental Change+1 (480) 965 6771