5. Cities locked in global challenges


Karsten Zimmermann (University of Dortmund, karsten.zimmermann@tu-dortmund.de)
Mohamad Razaghi (EPFL, mohamad.razaghi@epfl.ch)

Cities function as the nodes in a global network; as such they are particularly vulnerable to global challenges related to environmental changes, demographic dynamics, and infrastructure failures.

At a global scale, climate change is one of the fiercest challenges that cities must face. Recurrent heatwaves, storms and droughts continue to threaten many urban settlements from Asia to the Americas with increasing magnitude and frequency. Cities are home to more than 50% of global population and are responsible for more than 70% of GHG emissions, 75% of natural resource consumption and more than 80% of global GDP production. So, these complex socio-technical systems can be simultaneously studied as the cause, the target as well as potential solutions for dealing with global challenges such as sustainability and resilience.

In this track we would welcome papers that address the following three broad questions:

  • In which areas, and how, can cities help to address global challenges such as environmental sustainability and resilience? Specifically when cities are seen as the cause, the target and the potential solutions to these challenges, and are studied in light of multilevel governance systems where supra-national organizations as well as sub-national authorities are challenging the traditional dominance of nation-states in governance structures.
  • What role can technological innovations play in addressing these challenges in urban infrastructure systems (especially in the transport, energy, water, housing, green and waste infrastructure sectors)? And how do the existing technological lock-ins hinder the emergence of such innovations?
  • What institutional innovations and changes in the governance of cities and infrastructure are necessary to facilitate the transition of cities to more sustainable and resilient systems? (e.g. formal and informal institutions, governance structures, business models, social participation, political leadership)

We especially welcome contributions that are based on comparative studies and address the questions from a holistic and multi-disciplinary point of view.

In addition, in this track of the conference we welcome contributions that are addressing other global challenges that affect cities; such as (but not limited to) international migration, urban safety and global terrorism and financial markets volatility.

Global challenges track

Role of cities in addressing global challenges in multi-level governance systems (with a special focus on urban sustainability and resilience)

Role of technological innovations in urban infrastructure systems for addressing global challenges and existing lock-ins

Role of institutional innovation and governance of cities and infrastructure in the transition of cities to more sustainable and resilience systems

Other global urban challenges (e.g. international migration, urban safety and terrorism, financial markets volatility) and role of cities in addressing them


Registration with payment possibility opens on 1st February 2017