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Volvo environment prize seminar: Cities – the frontlines for global sustainability

Celebrating Professor Xuemei Bai’s work, this seminar will explore how rapidly growing cities can be made more livable, sustainable and resilient, both for their own inhabitants and for the surrounding regions and globally. 

What are the biggest challenges and how can science help shape the cities that are to be built this century? And what can the global north and the global south mutually learn from our different experiences of urbanization?

Read more about Professor Bai’s research at

Millions of people migrate to cities every year in one of the most significant demographic transformations in human history. More than half of the world’s population already live in urban areas, and by 2050 it is projected to reach more than two-thirds. Most of urban growth is now happening in Asia, Africa and Latin America. These rapidly growing cities play a critical role in both causing and potentially solving many of today's sustainability challenges. For example, 75 percent of the CO2-emissions from energy use can be traced back to cities. Urban centres also drive land-use change through their increasing demand for food and other goods and services from outside of their city limits.

"It is sometimes said that sustainability will be won or lost in cities. I would go one step further and say that sustainability will be won or lost in cities in the Global South," says Xuemei Bai, Volvo Environment Prize Laureate 2018.

Professor Xuemei Bai, Volvo Environment prize laureate, is one of the most active researchers and global thought leaders in urban sustainability, working across scales and tackling both theoretical and applied challenges with a focus on urban development in East Asia. Her pioneering inter- and trans-disciplinary research focuses on understanding the complexity of the social, ecological and economic drivers and impacts of urbanization, and the science and policy of urban sustainability transitions.

The symposium is free of charge and open to the public but registration
is required. Please register at by 23 November.

The event will also be livestreamed here

For more information, please visit the event page or the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Speakers will include:

  • Professor Xuemei Bai, Australian National University
  • Professor Will Steffen, Australian National University
  • Professor Kazuhiko Takeuchi, Tokyo University and United Nations University
  • Professor Thomas Elmqvist, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University
  • Dr. Åsa Gren, the Beijer Institute
  • Agneta Sundin, the Beijer Institute

The seminar is jointly hosted by the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Future Earth and the Volvo Environment Prize Foundation.