Urban Transitions Global Summit

Conference themes

Cities are incredibly vibrant centres of innovation, education, employment and commerce. They are the heart of the modern global economy and as such they continue to attract rural migrants seeking a better quality of life for themselves and their families. Today, more than half of the world population lives in urban areas, and each week, the urban population increases globally by 1.3 million.

As we become a mainly urban species, we have significant challenges and exciting opportunities ahead of us, as we try to transition towards more:

Economically competitive urban futures

Although our cities are each unique, they are also in competition with one another: whether for tourists, industrial or commercial investments, an educated workforce, or global status. How can cities proactively improve upon their economic success whilst being resilient to local and global economic downturns? How can declining or stagnant cities revitalize or regenerate their economic base?

Topics include but are not limited to: Agglomeration economies | Corporate strategy | Energy sources (management / conservation etc) | GHG measurement and management | Industrial organisation | Innovation | Production | Regeneration / regenerative design | Regional economics | Sustainable agriculture | Sustainable procurement | Triple bottom line / shared values | Urban consumption | Urban decay | Urban design, planning and policy | Urban economics | Urban migration

Sustainable and resilient urban futures

Increased economic activity tends to be accompanied by increased throughputs of energy and other resources, with corresponding implications for raw materials demand, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. To minimize this dependency, we need radically to improve our understanding of how our cities and their infrastructures can be planned, designed and built in more sustainable ways and made more resilient to climate change. In particular, we need to understand how unprecedented rates of urbanisation in emerging economies can be accommodated whilst limiting impacts on emissions and climate change, and how existing cities in developed economies can be decarbonised.

Topics include but are not limited to: Air quality | Disaster resilience | Energy sources / demand / management | Environmental impact | Global change | Green/sustainable buildings | Industrial ecology of cities | Infrastructure systems | Life cycle analysis | Retrofitting | Risk assessment / management | Sustainable agriculture | Transportation / sustainable transport | Urban adaptation to climate change | Urban biodiversity | Urban design / planning | Urban ecosystem services | Urban land teleconnections | Urban metabolism | Urban mitigation of climate change | Vulnerability

Equitable and inclusive urban societies

Urbanisation brings many societal benefits and challenges. Increased rural-urban and transnational migration in conjunction with economic growth can lead to increased disparity in income and in social inequality. It can adversely affect social capital and cohesion, and in the worst of cases exclusion of access to affordable housing, education, welfare and healthcare; even to sanitation. How do we balance economic growth with social and economic equality?

Topics include but are not limited to: Access | Aging populations | Community engagement | Cultural integration | Education | Energy poverty | Energy sources | Environmental / land / city governance | Environmental justice | Food / water / energy security | Gender | Health impacts | Planning for health | Politics of urbanisation | Regulation (of energy, buildings etc) | Resource management | Sanitation / clean water | Security | Urban conservation | Urban design / planning | Urban migration

Digitally supported urban futures

We are experiencing a telecommunications and information technology (IT) revolution. Never before have computer processors been so powerful and digital, geographically resolved data so ubiquitous. This increase in sensing technologies, in distributed computing and in pervasive social media brings with it incredible potential to better monitor and manage our cities; to calibrate models to test strategies for improving them. However, it also brings risks relating to resilience to cyber attack and to potential invasions of privacy, even of our basic human rights. How do we maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of ubiquitous sensing, computing and socials media in our cities? Which technologies are at or slightly beyond the horizon that will affect the lives of urban dwellers?

Topics include but are not limited to: Data science | GIS / remote sensing | Intelligent infrastructure | Security | Sensing cities | Sharing economy | Smart cities | Smart energy (grid) | The knowledge economy | Transportation (zipcars, autonomous cars) | Urban big data | Urban science

Contributions are welcome to each of these themes. The deadline for submission of abstracts is 17 March 2016.

These contributions may be generic in nature or be specific to a particular geographical region, or typologies of city based on population size, economic structure, geography, or other classification scheme; they may be specific to a theme or cut across several themes (examples of cross-cutting themes might include planning and governance strategies, decision support tools, envisioning and transition studies and strategies); and they may also consider particular urbanisation challenges, such as growth and shrinkage, planning and building new urban developments or re-planning and renovating existing ones.