Science and the Future of Cities

A Nature Sustainability Expert Panel

If cities are central to life on Earth, knowledge about our planet from an urban perspective is central to the integrity of present and future living conditions. Yet responding effectively to contemporary city challenges requires a step change in both scientific capacity and science-policy collaboration.

Numerous calls after the UN Habitat III conference in 2016, and its ‘New Urban Agenda’, noted how this step change is far from happening, with substantial hindrances in both academia and policy. A wider and more action-oriented conversation is urgently needed. This ethos was at the heart of the establishment, between April 2017 and December 2018, of an independent and international Expert Panel on “Science and the future of cities” endorsed by Nature SustainabilityNature’s new interdisciplinary journal.

The Panel gathered twenty-nine experts in contemporary urban scholarship from across disciplines and perspectives ranging from STEM disciplines, to social sciences and arts/humanities. Panellists were tasked to survey the challenge of science-policy interactions in cities today, and the issue of developing a greater collaboration across academia, or even an ‘urban science’, that can enable more effective interfaces between research and practice.

The Panel’s report, Science and the Future of Cities, offers an overview of the key challenges, messages and recommendations emerging from the Panel’s deliberations, highlighting pathways for reform in science and policy.

Project partners

Outputs

Springer Nature panel on 'Putting urban science to work', published 28 August 2019.

Nature Sustainability expert panel on the 'Science of cities', Nature.com.

Acuto, M. Parnell, S. and Seto, K. (2018) “Building a Global Urban ScienceNature Sustainability 1(1): 2-4.

Contestabile, M. (2018) “Launching our first expert panel reportNature Sustainability 1(12): 721.

Acuto, M. (2018) “Global science for city policyScience 359 (6352): 39-40.

Acuto, M. and S. Parnell (2016) “Leave No City BehindScience 352 (6288):893.

Contestabile, M. (2017) “Advancing city researchof Schemes and Memes blog, Nature.com.

Acuto, M., Contestabile, M., Parnell, S., Seto, K.C. “Urban science must inform policymakingCitiscope 3 July 2017.

Dellas, E., Acuto, M., Parnell, S. “Habitat III loses proposed multi-stakeholder panel, for nowCitiscope 29 July 2016.