In 1950, fewer than one-third of the world's people lived in cities. Today more than half do. By 2050, urban areas will be home to some two-thirds of Earth's human population.
"This scale and pace of urbanization has never been seen in human history," states a new report, Sustainable Urban Systems: Articulating a Long-Term Convergence Research Agenda.
The document was authored by members of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education's (AC-ERE) Sustainable Urban Systems Subcommittee, chaired by bioproducts and biosystems engineer Anu Ramaswami of the University of Minnesota. It serves as a guide for the direction research on cities might take today and in the future.
We live on an urban planet, according to the AC-ERE report, one where cities, although occupying only 3 to 4 percent of Earth's land surface, are affecting human and environmental well-being on scales from the local to the global.