Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Science Needs a Central Place in the New Urban Agenda

By Xuemei Bai

More of the global population is becoming concentrated in cities yet science has been largely excluded from global urbanisation planning.

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Global urbanisation is one of the biggest social transformations in human history, particularly in China, India and Africa. Australia is already highly urbanised, but it’s one of the few developed countries that is still experiencing rapid urban expansion.

With more than half of the world’s population already living in cities, and 90% of population growth by 2050 projected to be added to them, cities are at the forefront of the battle for sustainability. They pose major challenges for city planners and policymakers, such as land use, resource demand, and air and water pollution.

More urban areas will be built in the next 30 years than ever before. Cities already account for about 75% of global energy use and contribute an equivalent share of greenhouse gas emissions. If cities continue to expand at this rate, the projected urbanisation alone will breach the warming limit set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

The New Urban Agenda, which was adopted in October at the United Nations Habitat III Conference in Ecuador, provides a global vision and roadmap for sustainable urban development over the next 20 years. Its 165 clauses emphasise the right to cities, the importance of local government and grassroots communities, the importance of smart development, building resilience and sustainability, as well as means of implementation and plans for follow-...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.