Future Earth’s Urban Knowledge-Action Network is a global network of researchers and other innovators in policy, business, civil society, and more. We’re working to solve the most pressing challenges facing cities worldwide. We build new knowledge and tools to accelerate real-world transitions and transformations toward cities that are sustainable and livable.

Key Contacts

Giles Bruno Sioen

Science Officer

Eleanor Robson

Research and Policy Officer, Future Earth Australia

Our Challenge

Cities play an increasingly important role in global sustainability. Occupying less than 2% of the world’s land area, urban areas simultaneously produce most of the world’s waste and GDP. Cities are also complex settlements in which economies, cultures, biodiversity, and infrastructure from public transportation to sewage systems interact in sometimes unexpected ways.

This complexity can make it challenging to understand how actions in one area, such as to improve air quality, might affect another, such as climate. We believe that addressing these complexities requires taking the entire system, both within and beyond cities, into account when generating knowledge. It also requires bringing together people and groups from all walks of life to work together to design and produce solutions that respond to the real-world needs of urban areas across the globe.

We work in three key areas:

  • Building a community of practice and mobilising capacity among innovators in research, policy, business, non-governmental organisations and the general public for sustainable urban futures;
  • Facilitating, co-designing, synthesising and amplifying research to support the implementation of global sustainability initiatives at the city level, including the New Urban Agenda, Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement;
  • Bringing knowledge to action by building networks, democratising data and bringing underrepresented voices into global policy and planning discussions.

Our Work

Building a community of practice

  • Urban news: Sign up to join our monthly community newsletter, which launched in March 2018. Send submissions for news to urban@futureearth.org (include “Urban News” in the subject line).
  • Urban webinars: Learn about the latest findings in urban research and participate in training and capacity building opportunities for researchers, city officials, urban planners, and more (stay up-to-date by joining our Urban community below).
  • Urban community: Connect to a global community of thousands of researchers and other innovators on the Open Network powered by Future Earth.
  • Urban events: Follow our calendar of events on the Open Network.

Facilitating and amplifying research

Turning knowledge into action

Our Strategy

The Urban Knowledge-Action Network convenes an engaged research base, focused on the co-design and co-production of knowledge and tools to provide solutions to the greatest sustainability challenges facing cities. We work to incorporate the latest research findings into government, business, and community decisions and policies.

Who we are

The main structure of the Urban KAN consists of the Steering Committee and Advisory Group. The Steering Committee is leading the advancement and implementation of the vision and mission in line with the broader Future Earth objectives. The Advisory Group provides guidance and feedback on strategic directions, priorities, and progress towards agreed objectives for the Urban Knowledge-Action Network. The Advisory Group also facilitates and extends the network of experts and institutions in and outside of research communities. Across these two entities, there are several active Working Groups that focus on targeted topics. This KAN is co-hosted by the Future Earth Global Hub Japan, Dr. Giles Sioen (Science Officer), and The Future Earth Australian National Committee, Dr. Tayanah O’Donnell (Executive Director). 

Steering Committee

Xuemei Bai
Timon Macphearson
Kensuke Fukushi
Debra Roberts
Seth Schultz
Tayanah O’Donnell

Advisory Group

Bernhard Barth
Maruxa Cardama
Emilie Champagne
Bharat Dahiya
Richard Dawson
Thomas Elmqvist
Nilson Ariel Espino
Mathieu Gillet
Shuaib Lwasa
Harini Nagendra
Cathy Oke
Patricia Romero-Lankao
Natalie Rosales Pérez
Andre Roy
Johanne Saint-Charles
Ayyoob Sharifi
Jose Siri
Parks Tau
Tong Xin