Chain Bridge

Thematic Missions

26 February 2021 | PM 4

Urban Sustainability

Co-Chairs: Professor Gábor Stépán and Professor Péter Török

Growing urban populations and the increased environmental, social and economic impact of urban lifestyles put major cities to the forefront of global sustainability actions. Based on recent estimates, over 50% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and this is predicted to increase to more than two-third by 2050. Based on the IPCC report (2014), the increase in urban land cover in the first three decades of the 21st century at the globe is expected to be greater than the total urban expansion before 2000. Beside of great opportunities of higher levels of urbanisations including benefits of advancement of the business sector, diversification of economy and improved goods and services it provides, improved transportation systems and increased diversity of culture and increased scientific output, urbanisation faces the societies to several challenges which need to be addressed. The increased levels of urbanisation mean also overpopulation in urban areas and depopulation of rural ones, higher levels of social strife and higher risks of crimes, and also increased levels of pollution and likeliness of environmental disasters. To face these challenges, the urban areas should be organised or re-organised in a sustainable way, which requires up-to-date inputs from all the diverse research fields of science.

Several approaches can be used to define urban sustainability, but most of these can be summarized as a theory that deals with the reorganization of urban areas can in ways that support resource-efficient growth, enhance decarbonisation of urbanisation processes and improve carbon sequestration in urban areas, decrease the ecological footprint of cities and reduce the quantity of pollution, support an efficient land-use, improve recycling and convert waste to energy, and decrease the cities’ contribution to global loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and mitigate their contribution to climate change. The sustainable operation of urban areas – cities, suburbs and adjacent rural areas – will also drive economic development, create jobs, provide a higher quality of life and have positive impact on the global environment and economy.

Transdisciplinary sustainability research and the involvement of scientists in the development of urban policies and regulations are growing in importance across city councils, including that of Budapest. AE hubs located in major European cities (like Barcelona, Wroclaw, Bergen, Tbilisi) offer an excellent network for co-operation in urban sustainability studies with many similarities and complementarities. The dedication of both these and other EU and European cities may also help the funding of joint programmes under this theme.

The AE Budapest Hub dedicated one of its thematic missions to the above described urban sustainability. The urban sustainability encompasses sustainability domains of economic, socio-cultural, technological, environmental and public policy – thus, cross-sectional and multidisciplinary approaches are highly welcome. Academies, like the Academia Europaea (AE), are especially suitable interfaces for these cross-sectional and multidisciplinary approaches.

Within the Budapest Hub, we specifically aim to

  • Facilitate capacity building by involvement of AE and Young Academy members of the region
  • Discuss historical drivers, special opportunities and challenges of urban sustainability in the Visegrad countries and other parts of Central-Europe
  • Organise thematic national and regional workshops and summer schools in urban sustainability
  • Facilitate cross-sector discussions on urban sustainability with the involvement of regional urban centres
  • Increase the involvement and visibility of young scientists
  • Organise public seminars and popular-science sessions in urban sustainability
  • Integrate and assess the specific sets of goal functions and constraints used by the different research areas related to urban sustainability
  • Define the possible synergies and unavoidable trade-offs while entering the era of smart cities, digital transportation systems, and clean energy
  • Facilitate the discussions on the financial aspects of urban transition for sustainable development
  • Organise public seminars and discussions on the multifaceted interactions of the urban environment, health and human well-being
  • Develop regular and European-wide knowledge exchange and transfer in urban sustainability with the involvement of other AE Hubs