Every second person lives today in cities. This global urbanization entails numerous sustainability challenges: air pollution, mobility, social and environmental inequality, and increased risks of flooding. Yet, it also offers unique possibilities for solutions. The density of the city makes it a perfect location for low carbon mobility innovative energy solutions, compact urban development and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles. At the same time, the ‘urban footprint’ on the countryside enlarges as well.
Multiple visions of how future urbanization can respond to the climate challenges and foster broader sustainability have merged, including ‘smart city’, ‘circular city’, ‘eco-city’, ‘healthy city’, and ‘resilient city’. Our research specializes in innovations and governance arrangements that enable urban places and their hinterland to adapt to the challenges of the future and to develop more sustainably; to use smart decision support tools; to cope with the water-energy-food nexus; to develop and implement ‘nature-based’ solutions; and to take care of the most vulnerable groups in society. At the same time we are interested in forms of ‘urban experimentation’, i.e. living labs that are intended to design, demonstrate and learn about the effects of interventions in real time.
At the Copernicus Institute we focus our expertise on urbanisation in delta areas, and all the challenges that come across. We are especially interested in water, energy and green infrastructures. We assist in developing policies to make cities more resilient, not only in Europe, but also in developing countries. Furthermore we cooperate with several external partners to create urban areas that are water-wise, climate proof, energy efficient, green and healthy.