Urban areas and the supply networks that support their resource use are inherently multisectoral systems composed of infrastructural, environmental, and socio-institutional components. These systems are vulnerable to accelerating and interacting stresses from climate change, population growth, resource scarcity, and land-use pressure at the same time as they have a major influence on regional and global systems. For instance, a majority of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, food consumption, and economic activity can be attributed to urban areas. Urban areas are highly heterogenous, both across and within cities in terms of their socio-demographic, environmental, and infrastructural characteristics. This heterogeneity shapes how urban systems interact and co-evolve and contributes to different economic, environmental, and health outcomes for communities within urban areas. Urban heterogeneity also generates differential vulnerabilities to stressors and differential capacity for adapting to change. The evolution of urban space is thus critical in shaping how human societies respond to global change as they seek to improve resilience to stressors, support prosperous and equitable communities, and use natural resources in a sustainable manner. Developing fundamental scientific understanding of urban heterogeneity and system interactions across sectors and scales is critical for mapping the resilience, sustainability, and equity implications of alternative future pathways.

On July 2021 the MSD Urban Systems Working Group organized this workshop to provide a venue for coordination and identification of shared objectives, research themes, and major knowledge gaps, as well as developing a shared strategy for addressing these gaps. This report summarizes the outcomes of this workshop.

To download a copy of this report click here.