Urban Futures

Exploring Crucial Intersections Between Urban Development and the Environment

Urban Futures

Urban areas play crucial roles in the arena of climate and environmental change, not only as key sources of carbon and other air pollutants, but also as hotspots of vulnerability to water scarcity, floods, heat waves, and other hazards that climate change is expected to aggravate. These roles create a unique opportunity for urban centers to prove their talents as sources of innovations, and laboratories for responses that help transition to more sustainable and more resilient pathways of urban development.

Urban Futures integrates different disciplinary domains within NCAR and with other national and international organizations to:

  • Explore the dynamics of urbanization and urban systems that shape urban emissions, vulnerabilities and risks
  • Investigate urban populations' and decision makers' capacity to respond to climatic and non-climatic hazards and stresses
  • Research how particular cities attempt to meet the challenges of reducing emissions (sustainability) while improving their response capacity (resilience) to environmental impacts
  • Build capacity to foster urban sustainability and resilience through educational, mentoring and outreach activities at the science-policy interface


Examples of work undertaken so far include

  • Dynamics of urbanization shaping urban emissions, vulnerability and risk
  • Health risks from temperature and air pollution in large cities such as Bogota, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Santiago, Delhi, and Mumbai
  • Urban populations capacity to perceive and respond to risks temperature, air pollution, floods and other hazards in Bogota, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Santiago, Delhi, Mumbai and Beijing
  • Institutional capacity for climate policies in cities from Latin America, Asia and the US
  • Training of decision makers, scholars and practitioners in urban areas of  Latin America, Asia and the US


Olga Wilhelmi

Head of GIS Program