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Topic 1: Sustainable cities

Today, more people live in cities than in rural areas and, by 2050, this ratio is predicted to rise to 7 out of every 10 people.

What measures can be taken to make cities more resilient to disasters or to long term changes in climate? Can we rethink how we design and live in cities? What will the impact of increasing numbers of people living in cities be on society, or biodiversity, or on food, water and energy security?

In our monthly meeting between October 2013 and June 2014, expert witnesses provided their perspective on cities and answered questions about the characteristics of a sustainable city and the governance systems needed to support them. To ensure they come from a range of fields and backgrounds, they all worked in three overlapping areas: how we live in cities, where we live and how we respond to change.

As they are all drawn from different fields and work on different aspects of cities, the Forum explored a series of questions which bridge their areas of expertise. By bringing together a rich mixture of policy- and decision-makers from governments and business, technical experts and researchers as expert witnesses to the meetings each month, the Forum aimed to derive fresh and innovative perspectives on each of these questions and more.

We’re in the process of distilling these into an output. This will bring together a series of research questions that make connections between different facets of sustainability and the environment in future cities and the governance needed to support those linkages. The multi-disciplinary discussions within the Forum are feeding into and shaping these questions, providing fresh ideas and catalysing discussion around emerging research pathways.

Four Forum members, Paul Linden, Koen Steemers, Doug Crawford-Brown and Peter Guthrie led and shaped this topic.

Please contact Dr Rosamunde Almond for more information about what we discussed and the public events we held ().

Expert witnesses were invited to Forum meetings each month between October 2013 and June 2014 to discuss ideas related to different aspects of sustainability on cities.

Read more about the meeting themes and the witnesses
ESA - Eye of the storm

Sustainability in cities is a popular topic and more than 400 people have come to public events co-hosted by the Forum and other initiatives and centres in Cambridge to debate, ask questions and to talk about their visions of what future cities should and could be like.

In January 2015, the Forum and the Centre for Science and Policy launched a policy challenges briefing that draws on the experience of some of the Forum's witnesses and highlights key policy issues related to climate resilience in cities.

Download the report and find out about the speakers