Joshua Sperling & Patricia Romero-Lankao, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA

Karen Noiva, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

Janet Reyna, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

Kathryn Wassel, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA

Presentation Title: Methods and tools for equitable and sustainable cities: Implications for infrastructure systems and policies that integrate diverse populations



This presentation shared results and proceedings of a four-day interdisciplinary workshop led by Ph.D. students and post-docs from engineering, architecture/planning, public policy, public health and environmental science programs at eight U.S. universities and research institutions. A key workshop aim was to identify methods and tools to address the synergistic goals of equitable and sustainable cities, with funding support provided through a United States National Science Foundation Research Coordination Network on Sustainable Cities that focuses on reducing energy use, emissions and climate-risks to water supply and public health in cities. The cases presented were from cities planning for sustainability and climate change while also aiming to overcome recent rapid urbanization and historical geographic marginalization. The cities compared illustrate different methods and tools for advancing sustainable city goals while also addressing inequities.

Key Lessons Learned

  • Important social equity challenges exist, globally.
  • There is growing recognition that urban sustainability efforts need to take social equity seriously or else may exacerbate existing inequities and increase risks to the economy, environment and society.
  • New methods and tools are now available for improving the gap between academic research, community engagement on sustainable cities and implementation of actions toward addressing existing urban inequities.
  • Preparing our world cities for reducing resource use/emissions and addressing the increasing risks associated with climate change and various other acute and chronic stresses is an urgent necessity.  Doing so in a way that promotes social equity (including gender equity) will provide a double dividend of more inclusive and robust city plans and empowerment for marginalized and vulnerable populations.

Knowledge Gaps and Needs

Four US case study cities from author’s city residences( Denver, USA; Boston, USA; Phoenix, USA; Tallahassee, USA); and four global cities (Mumbai, India; Medellin, Colombia; Lima, Peru; Nairobi, Kenya) illustrates examples of how cities are working together with diverse actors on engineering, planning, policy and behavior change for addressing urban sustainability and climate change while also aiming to overcome recent rapid urbanization and historical geographic marginalization.  Some cities have been more successful than others, but why?  Key knowledge gaps lie in exploring the extent to which synergies and trade-offs exist with local actions in this context and in defining / measuring the diverse aspects of sustainability and equity to prioritize actions / monitor outcomes over time.


Return to Session 63