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Urban Science : Learning from the past & innovating for the future

7 speakers

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The study of urbanization across eras and geographies has identified fundamental social processes common to cities and urbanization throughout history. Adaptation to changing environmental or socioeconomic conditions has been a feature of urbanization from the very first cities. This adaptation has required learning, innovation, coordination and collective action. The only evidence-based reason to think that cities and urban systems can significantly adapt in response to the changes brought about by climate change is a recognition that cities and urban systems in the past have managed to adapt to a myriad of endogenous and exogenous shocks. A long-term perspective can help identify the “levers of change” which can be pulled in order for urban systems to transform their structures and processes with the goal of sustainably advancing the well-being of all urban inhabitants. This session will engage with the question of how understanding urban development and adaptation in the past can inform thinking about what features of cities and urban systems can facilitate or hinder adaptation to the current set of challenges, and opportunities, facing cities. Another theme which the session will grapple with is how the insights of urban science and urban sustainability science can be integrated with the knowledge accumulated by communities of the urban poor so that urban adaptation policies are also poverty-alleviation policies.