Future Earth Urban

Photo: Erik Pihl

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Urban expansion is expected to reach unprecedented levels in the next decades. By 2050 it is predicted that two thirds of people might be living in towns and cities (Habitat III, 2016). Given this trend, there is a critical need to ensure sustainable growth of cities across the globe and to smooth transitions from rural to urban areas.

Cities play an increasingly important role in global sustainability, via multiple social, economic, biophysical processes across all spatial and temporal scales, and aggregated effects of actions taken by individual cities.

Within an urban system, such processes are intertwined and interact with each other in complex ways, creating challenges in recognizing and understanding the interactions, synergies, and trade-offs between these components as well as addressing underlying issues.

The research that is currently being undertaken on urban systems is often perceived by stakeholders as inaccessible, difficult to understand and not specifically addressing the questions raised by urban decision and policy makers as well as practitioners.

As such there is a window of opportunity for action, as many new cities are and will be built in the coming decades, there is an increasing recognition of the importance of urban issues in national and international policy arena (e.g. SDG Goal 11) and there are significant advances in urban research and technologies e.g. the availability of big data enabling new approaches in urban research.

Given such challenges and opportunities, it is critical that new research and engagement platforms are established to assemble these stakeholder groups (research, policy and practice) to co-design relevant research questions, co-produce cutting-edge as well as actionable knowledge and co-implement locally appropriate solutions that deliver sustainable outcomes globally.

Focus of the Knowledge-Action Network

  • Build a global research platform and engagement network on urbanization and sustainable cities
  • Become a key source of knowledge from integrative, interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary research across natural and social sciences, engineering and humanities, for practitioners, policy and decision-makers
  • Contribute to the transition and transformation towards sustainable urban futures where cities are more livable, equitable and resilient through co-developed and solutions-oriented research.

This Knowledge-Action Network is a collaborative initiative building on contributions from the Future Earth Community (Research ProjectsFast-Track Initiatives and Clusters) but also aiming for broader engagements from research and stakeholder communities globally.

See a list of the members of the Urban Knowledge-Action Network Development Team.

Read the Vision, Mission and Value Proposition of the Urban Knowledge-Action Network.

Contact: M'Lisa Colbert, Science Officer, Urban Projects