Projects
January 2017 / December 2018

Low-carbon and resilient cities - Re-Cities

The objective of the research conducted in Re-Cities is to foster an understanding of the determinants of urban spatial development and the consequences for the environment. Land transformation has direct negative consequences on the C-cycle and the water cycle, and can seriously hamper the ecological equilibriums of large areas, increasing their vulnerability to extreme events. Understanding the sustainability of changes in land use can contribute to designing and implementing better planning policies for a transition towards resilient, low-carbon and resource-efficient cities.

Urbanization is recognized as a fundamental driver of environmental change, since it alters the functions of soil, reducing the availability and quality of natural resources, and fragmenting ecological corridors. Climate change is becoming a very urgent issue in global agendas, and with three-quarters of the world’s population living in urbanized areas, cities have become hotspots in which both problems and potential solutions to the environmental challenge are concentrated and hence called on to play a crucial role in promoting the economic and societal responses necessary for both mitigation, intended as the transition toward a low-carbon paradigm, and adaptation, as the capacity to anticipate, cope with, and protect from the adverse effects of climate change.

The objective of the research conducted in Re-Cities is to foster an understanding of the determinants of urban spatial development and the consequences for the environment. Land transformation has direct negative consequences on the C-cycle and the water cycle, and can seriously hamper the ecological equilibriums of large areas, increasing their vulnerability to extreme events. Understanding the sustainability of changes in land use can contribute to designing and implementing better planning policies for a transition towards resilient, low-carbon and resource-efficient cities.

Population growth is the primary driver of urbanization, and a substantial part of this growth is expected to take place in cities. Historical experience indicates that cities evolved following a monocentric organization of space, determined by the decay of population, rents, floor/area ratio, and an urbanized area at increasing distances from the city center. Nowadays, decentralization has become a frequent trait of most large cities, but the evolution of the monocentric structure has materialized through diverse pathways stemming from a more structured urban polycentrism to a chaotic scatteration of residential areas, with a multiplicity of intermediate solutions. Re-Cities research on the topic wants to foster the understanding of:  the consequences of this evolution in relation to mitigation and adaptation capacity; the future trends in urbanization and their effects on the environment; the feasible policy solutions that can prevent excessive damage.

Main Results and Outputs

The Re-Cities research is conducted based on two main pillars, which are expected to lead the following results. The first pillar concerns the quantitative assessment of the relationship between urbanization (in terms of demography, urban patterns, transport and mobility) and the consequences for mitigation and adaptation in order to provide policy suggestions. The geographical area of reference is the EU. The second pillar concerns the construction of a probabilistic econometric model that explains the dynamics of land use change at a high-resolution spatial scale that accounts for spatial interactions. The model serves not only as a tool for a better understanding of the complex relationship between land use and socioeconomic dynamics, supply of green and blue infrastructures and ecosystem services, but also for providing short-term forecasts of land use change and related consequences in terms of CO2 emissions and air pollutants.

The main results of the research project will be presented in a round table on “Modeling land use change” to be held in fall 2017.

Project team
Project leader

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