Panels for the 2nd International UGEC Conference

Ten Years of the Urbanization and Global Environmental Change Project: Past, Present and Future

Technology and Innovation: Trends, Conflicts & Consequences for Urbanization


Federico Caprotti - King's College, London | PPT

Jason Chang - National Taiwan University | PPT

Colin Harrison - IBM | PPT

Moderator - Peter Marcotullio - Hunter College, City University of New York

The late 20th century saw the rise of an impressive array of technological innovation in urban areas, which appear to have the capacity to solve diverse and complex urban problems and at the same time help address key environmental challenges like climate change and manage risk. The so-called Smart (or Intelligent) City refers to systems that collect and process large amounts of data through information and communication technologies to improve urban economic, social, and infrastructure development. These Smart Cities are promoted as responses to current and future development and sustainability challenges, yet little attention has been given to the socioeconomic and biophysical processes associated with urbanization and constraints they might impose on the construction of Smart Cities in developed and developing countries. Adequate attention has also not been given to the unintended consequences of these technological innovations on social equality within and among societies worldwide.

The panel will discuss and debate the potential contributions of Smart Cities, technological innovation and the use of big data in urban areas including their future potential for sustainability as well as their unintended consequences.

Guiding Future Growth: Urban Transitions in the 21st Century


Alejandro Nadal - Centre for Economic Studies of El Colegio de Mexico | PPT

Harini Nagendra - Azim Premji University | PPT

Moderator - Roberto Sanchez-Rodriguez - Colegio de la Frontera Norte

The dynamic socioeconomic and biophysical processes of transition occurring thus far this century have introduced changes in key components of development and sustainability at regional, national and local levels. Urban areas are playing an important role in many of these transitions given their influence as centers of production and consumption, innovation and wealth. At present it is difficult to estimate the extent to which these transitions are creating regional and local urban transformations and their meaning for economic growth, social wellbeing, and the environment. However, it is essential to integrate the analysis of these global processes in the study of future urban growth and its interactions and implications for global environmental change.

This panel session will discuss key socioeconomic processes (e.g., financial crisis, collapsing and failing states, increasing inequality, emerging economic sectors, and trends in the appropriation of natural resources) and biophysical processes (e.g., changes in the climate and water cycle, loss of ecosystem services, acidification of oceans) that have influenced urbanization in the first half of this century and will aim to identify pathways for more sustainable urban trajectories.

 Governing the Urban System: Towards New Frameworks & Institutional Approaches


Sue-Ching Jou - National Taiwan University | PPT

Susan Parnell - University of Cape Town | PPT

William Solecki - Hunter College, City University of New York | PPT

Moderator - David Simon, Royal Holloway, University of London

The impressive growth and importance of urban areas in recent decades have resulted in an interconnected system of global cities that is fostering and diversifying governance processes such that urban governance cannot be considered just a local phenomenon, but instead operates at multiple geographical and temporal scales. However, urban institutions have experienced difficulty adapting to these new conditions and urban growth continues to be framed in isolation, as a local process only. Currently, urban governance and institutional structures are more often than not outmoded and siloed in their approach to address development and GEC-related issues. How to minimize institutional and policy gridlock as they try to keep up with change is a fundamental concern.

This panel will consider the increasing gap between good urban governance and urban institutional capacities in both developed and developing countries. The panel will also reflect on the consequences these trends have had on urban development and sustainability, and also the opportunities for developing and implementing new frameworks of governance during the first half of this century.

 Overcoming the Challenges: Ways Forward in Urban Interdisciplinary Research & Practice


Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao - Academia Sinica | PPT

Gordon McGranahan - International Institute for Environment and Development

Reading National Signatures in Urbanisation - Income Space (interactive visualization from Dr. McGranahan's presentation)

John Robinson - University of British Columbia | PPT

Moderator - Karen Seto - Yale University

The study of urbanization and global environmental change is an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary endeavor. Given the urban sustainability challenges that face humanity, more effort is required to build holistic research frameworks and approaches. With such a wide array of agendas and backgrounds, communication within and between academics, decision-makers and other stakeholders is a difficult process, but also an increasingly important one.

This panel will focus on the challenges and ways forward in fostering and maintaining inter- and transdisciplinarity in urbanization and global environmental change research, and the science-policy-practice connections that are required for achieving impactful urban solutions at a diversity of levels and scales in the decades to come. Panelists will draw from their extensive experience working on such issues in the realm of interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary research and practice.

Closing Panel: Reflections and Moving Forward for UGEC


Andres Luque-Ayala - Durham University

Gordon McGranahan - International Institute for Environment and Development

Susan Parnell - University of Cape Town

Moderator - Patricia Romero Lankao - National Center for Atmospheric Research

This final conference panel will reflect on the discussions and key topics addressed over the span of the last three days. Selected panellists will be hand-picked from the list of conference attendees and will provide their feedback and reflections from their own individual perspectives on the key synthesis issues and messages they took note of, any gaps, and overall general reflections on the conference. Audience participation is encouraged.  The goal is to end with some key synthesis messages and hopefully encouraging ideas for moving forward as a UGEC community.