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New, forward-looking report outlines research path to sustainable cities

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. We live on an urban planet, according to a new 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. Few challenges are more compelling than how to make cities sustainable. In the U.S., urban areas are home to some 80 percent of the country's human population and generate 85 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, making them critical for local and national prosperity, security and well-being, the report states. While cities and their suburbs are engines of innovation, they also face issues such as aging and inadequate infrastructure; human health risks from pollution, poor diets and sedentary lifestyles; vulnerability to disasters and extreme events, such as hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and California's recent wildfires; and inequities in economic opportunity. The report asserts that a broader, longer-term agenda would help develop the next generation of sustainable urban systems research.

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