Transforming urban systems: Towards sustainability

Aerial image of the Patapsco River in central Baltimore, to show an urban system. Credit: Will Parson / Chesapeake Bay Program

Urban areas are growing and rapidly changing in shape and function, with spillover effects on almost every region of the Earth. The UN estimates that 68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050. In the first issue of Urban Sustainability npj, A new Nature Partner Magazine released today, a team of leading urban ecologists is releasing a practical checklist to guide interventions, strategies and research that will improve the condition of urban systems to meet critical sustainability goals.

Co-author Steward Pickett of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies explains, “Urban areas shape demographics, socioeconomic processes, urban shape, technologies, and the environment – both near and far. the world will become more urban, than we do in cities.It will be fundamental to achieving global sustainability goals.There is great potential, but to achieve it it needs knowledge, methods and knowledge brought in from a variety of disciplines to promote global urban science that encourages discovery and innovation. “

Pickett collaborated with Timon McPhearson, a former Cary Institute Research Fellow and Professor at the New School in New York City, and lead author Weiqi Zhou of the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Beijing, on paper, was the first to bring together five key frameworks of urban ecology. Their synthesis renews our ability to understand urban systems, from cities to urban regions, by enabling the interdisciplinary science needed to achieve sustainability and improve human and environmental well-being.

The authors of the paper are international leaders in advancing the key frameworks of urban ecology examined in the paper, including: human ecosystem, disturbance and extreme events in urban systems, suffering in urban- large and urban communities, dynamic diversity, and the new ‘continuum’ of urbanism ’which describes interactions and flows in wild urban-rural areas. While these and other frameworks have been instrumental in guiding the development of urban ecology, their synthesis addresses the need for greater conceptual clarity and integration.

Pickett explains, “Urban ecological science is a young discipline. Because of its youth, many different ways have been suggested to integrate the control so that it can move faster and faster. be more accessible to urban designers, policy makers, architects, and engineers, but these different conceptual tools, theories, and approaches appear to be quite different, and have rarely been cross-referenced. evaluate including to promote a more complete, and therefore more useful, synthesis. “

Global urban scenarios provide content for the frameworks: complexity, diffuseness, connectivity, and diversity. Frameworks have been studied using the concept of ‘metacity’ which considers urban areas, at any scale, as the inclusion of different pieces by the interaction of any parts. -chemical, social and technological. Four case studies were described: extreme urban heat, vacant land space in urban areas, green stormwater infrastructure, and new urban development in China. For the latter two, the authors provide practical examples of how the frameworks can serve as a checklist for evaluating sustainability design.

McPhearson says, “By offering a strong interdisciplinary lens on urban systems, the unified frameworks can counter the risk that priority issues with specific interests can be greatly simplified, that topics can be greatly simplified. appropriately identified to follow to undermine strategic choices, or strictly a technical response to a direct emergency can replace more inclusive and systematic options tables. “

The paper builds on more than 25 years of Cary Institute leadership in human-natural systems research. Pickett, a pioneer in American urban ecology, notes “The long-term Baltimore Ecosystem Study is specifically prepared for this group to make the synthetic contribution represented by this paper. .Cary Institute’s emphasis on collaboration and synthesis, and the intellectual freedom it provides to pursue There are radical new directions in ecology, including those that are highly interdisciplinary, are important tools for the work that underpin this paper. ”


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Further information:
Weiqi Zhou et al, Controversial frameworks enable integration for cross-disciplinary urban science, Urban Sustainability npj (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s42949-020-00011-9

Presented by Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Citation: Transforming urban systems: Towards sustainability (2021, February 23) back February 23, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-02-urban-sustainability.html

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