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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 April 2018

Thomas Elmqvist
Stockholm Resilience Centre
Xuemei Bai
Australian National University, Canberra
Niki Frantzeskaki
Erasmus University, The Netherlands
Corrie Griffith
Arizona State University
David Maddox
The Nature of Cities
Timon McPhearson
New School University, New York
Susan Parnell
University of Cape Town
Patricia Romero-Lankao
National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
David Simon
Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenberg
Mark Watkins
Arizona State University


Urban Planet
Knowledge towards Sustainable Cities
, pp. x - xiv
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018


  1. 0.1Cities and urban areas will house nearly all of the world’s net population growth over the next two decades with 1.4 million people added to urban areas each week (UN 2014), equal to roughly the population of Stockholm. Cities are engines of national and global growth, accounting for 80 percent of global economic output. In China, four city clusters account for nearly half of China’s GDP (Shao et al. 2006). Cities are also key drivers of global energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for around 70 percent of both (IEA 2008). Meanwhile, urban land area could triple globally from 2000 to 2030 (Seto et al. 2012). This is equivalent to adding an area larger than Manhattan every day. Accelerating urban development boosts private consumption (Dobbs et al. 2008) and requires significant infrastructure, including carbon intensive manufacturing and construction consuming massive quantities of concrete and steel consumption, particularly in the early phases of urbanization (Wang 2007).

  2. 1.1Growth rates of urban agglomerations by size class, 2014–2030. Source: Jerker Lokrantz/Azote, modified after World Urbanization Prospects, Population Division, UN 2014.

  3. 1.2Median age by country for 2015. A youth bulge is evident for Africa and to a lesser extent for South and Southeast Asia and Central America. Source: Jerker Lokrantz/Azote, modified after UN Factbook.

  4. 1.3Facebook connections worldwide. Source: Jerker Lokrantz/Azote, modified after Facebook

  5. 1.4Regions of urban shrinkage in the world. Source: Kabisch et al. 2010.

  6. 2.1Cities’ patterns from space NASA City Night Lights 1) New York City, 2) Paris, 3) Cairo, and 4) Tokyo.

  7. 2.2The scaling of gross domestic product as a function of city population. Source: Bettencourt 2013.

  8. 2.3Examples of high-resolution tree species diversity (Street Tree Census, NYC), property values (Assessor data, NYC), and energy intensity (Energy consumption, NYC).

  9. 3.1Urban population by community size for cities of five unique sizes. Note that smaller cities/communities of 500,000 inhabitants or less will continue to house the majority (approximately 50 percent) of the world’s urban population. Source: Jerker Lokrantz/Azote, modified after Chávez (2017).

  10. 3.2Conceptual diagram of urban metabolism. A proportion of the resources that flow into cities become urban stock, while others enable and drive various anthropogenic functions and eventually produce intended or unintended outputs that stay within the system boundary or are exported beyond the boundary, with various impacts on the physical environment, flora and fauna, and associated ecological processes. Urban metabolism is shaped and regulated by factors such as urban policy, urban governance, culture, and individual behaviors. Source: Jerker Lokrantz/Azote, modified after Bai (2016).

  11. 3.3Global energy use for urban and rural population, 1965 to 2010. Source: Jerker Lokrantz/Azote, modified after Bristow and Kennedy (2015).

  12. 4.1A flooded house in Mexico City. Floods are major contributors to infrastructure and housing damage among poor populations in cities. Source: Patricia Romero-Lankao et al. 2014a.

  13. 4.2Urban risk. This conceptual diagram shows urban risk not only as a result of hazard exposure and vulnerability, but also as shaped by five interacting development domains: sociodemographic, economic, technological, ecological, and governance. These domains operate within a wider context of interactions between environment and society. Source: Romero-Lankao and Gnatz 2016 modified after Field et al. 2012. Design Jerker Lokrantz/Azote

  14. 4.3Capacity and actual responses vary across scale, that is, across a household, neighborhood, and city region. Source: Romero-Lankao et al. 2014a.

  15. 5.1Broad determinants of health. Urban health experts now know that the built, physical, social, and economic environments are crucial factors in maintaining and improve health. Source: Jerker Lokrabtz/Azote.

  16. 5.2Urban health and well-being emerges as an outcome of urban system structure and processes and change factors from outside the system. Source: Jerker Lokrantz/Azote.

  17. 5.3Simplified interconnections between urban transportation, air quality, climate change, and public health. Source: Jerker Lokrantz/Azote, modified after Lung (2014).

  18. 5.4Dynamic relationships between variables for food security and the proportion of obese people in urban communities. Source: Jerker Lokrantz/Azote, modified after Proust and Newell (2016).

  19. 6.1The relationship between per capita GDP and urbanization across countries (1996 dollars). Source: Jerker Lokrantz/Azote, modified after Spence et al. (2009).

  20. 6.2The relationship between income per capita (current USD) and Gini coefficient in Latin American countries. Source: Jerker Lokrantz/Azote, modified after UN Habitat (2014).

  21. 6.3Cumulative change in productivity (orange) and hourly compensation (green) in the United States between 1945 and 2015. Source: Jerker Lokrantz/Azote, modified after EPI (Bivens and Michel 2015).

  22. 6.4Changes in the Gini coefficient, as well as the differential between the salaries earned by the richest and the poorest 10 percent (a metric called D10/D1) in Bogotá between 1991 and 2010. Source: Jerker Lokrantz/Azote, modified after UN-Habitat (2014).

  23. 6.5The relationship between GDP per capita and the shadow economy as a percentage of total GDP on a global average. Source: Jerker Lokrantz/Azote, modified after Slonimczyk (2014).

  24. 8.1The evolution of urban indicators.

  25. 9.1UN Summit Adopts Post-2015 Development Agenda. A view of the General Assembly Hall following the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda by the UN summit convened for that purpose. Source: UN Photo/Cia Pak, New York, 2015.

  26. 9.2The place of indicators in public policy.

  27. 12.1Odo-Osun Spring in Ibadan North-East local government. Source: CNES/Airbus DS, DigitalGlobe/Esri, @OpenStreetMap.

  28. 12.2Odo-Osun spring in 2010. Source: Grace Oloukoi.

  29. 12.3Mahewa ward, Gorakhpur, India. Source: map provided by GEAG.

  30. 12.4Dhaincha (center). Source: photo by GEAG.

  31. 16.1Macroscale systemic change typically emerges from a long period of preparation that entails experimentation, innovation, and the formation of new coalitions at the micro-level. Proto-regimes that emerge from this preparatory phase typically only become institutionalized at a meso-level once a window of opportunity emerges in the form of a crisis or anticipated crisis. Our understanding of how these meso-level regimes can then effect larger-scale systemic change is still limited. The symbols indicate new configurations, where the social and ecological components of the system are connected in new ways. Source: Authors’ own.

  32. 16.2Attributes of 120 urban relevant seeds from the Seeds of the Good Anthropocene database. These seeds are classified across five categories based on a) what type of action a seed is encouraging (stopping, reforming, or innovating activities); b) the status of the seed (prototype, implemented, or a well-established project); c) which “anthrome” or social-ecological system the seed is oriented towards; d) what types of challenge of the Anthropocene the seed addresses; and e) the type of social-ecological integration the seed represents. The sum is greater than 100 percent because some categories are not mutually exclusive.

  33. 16.3Urban seeds clustered into groups based on hierarchical clustering of the Anthropocene challenge(s) they address and their social-ecological type.

  34. 26.1Downtown Sao Paulo in 2002. Photograph by Nelson Kon.

  35. 26.2Walls isolate the street. Photograph by Anna Dietzsch.

  36. 26.3When walls come down, space can flow. Credit: Anna Dietzsch.

  37. 26.4Open private spaces are joined and opened up for common use. Credit: Anna Dietzsch.

  38. 26.5A timeline of expanding São Paulo, but in 2100 nature starts to come back in through green corridors and open spaces. Credit: Anna Dietzsch.

  39. 33.1Mural created by ROA for the 2013 Nuart Festival in Stavanger, Norway. Photograph taken in 2014.

  40. 33.2A tag by Vrom Seier mimics the adjacent wrought-iron fence in Oslo, Norway. Photograph taken in 2014.

  41. 33.3Various tags in Stavanger, Norway. Photograph taken in 2014.

  42. 36.1Highest Urban Growth Expected in Asia and Africa. Source: Beard et al. 2016.

  43. 36.2Comparison of city population and budget per capita in cities in Global South and North. Source: Beard et al. 2016.

  44. 36.3Income distribution in cities and the urban underserved. Source: Beard et al. 2016.

  45. 36.4Equity as an entry point to a more sustainable city – a theory of change. Source: Beard et al. 2016.

  46. 45.1Makola Market, Accra, midday. Man carrying bathing sponges for sale. © L. Lokko, 2014.

  47. 47.1The city doesn’t exist without an observer, by Diana Wiesner

  48. 47.2Section of a drawing by Colectivo Bogotá Pinta Cerros, 2017. Citizens who participated printed their feelings for the mountains of the region with a 12-hand watercolor in 16 plates of 11.2 meters, representing the 57 kilometers of mountains near the city.

  49. 47.3Soul Resilience, by María Ceciia Galindo.

  50. 47.4A Child Holding a Painting by Walter J. Gonzalez called “My Future Bogotá”: from the south of the city he draws his image of the future.

  51. 47.5Symphony of Democracy, by Diana Wiesner in collaboration with Daniela González.

  52. S.1No. of publications with “urban” as keyword 1950–2015 (Web of Science).

  53. S.2Current trends.

  54. S.3Urban system structure and interlinkages. The symbols represent various actors/constituents, structure, and processes across physical/built, social/economics, and ecological subsystems. The arrows represent complex processes and linkages within and between cities, and between cities and their hinterlands. The actors and constituents are typically self-organizing, and the structure, processes, and linkages and functions are dynamic and evolving, with nonlinear pathways. Source: Bai et al. 2016a.

  55. S.4Conceptualization of the interlinkages between factors and dynamic processes shaping urban futures. Visions are represented as societal goals influenced by worldviews, value systems, politics and power, culture and choices, and play an important role in intervention, innovations, and transformation that can lead to alternative and more desirable urban futures. Source: McPhearson et al. 2017, modified from Bai 2016b.

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