International Conference  •  10-11 October  •  Lisbon  •  Portugal

Cities play a prominent role at the local level but also, increasingly, at global level. Issues such as climate change and inequality call for the capacity to envision alternative development directions for their future. On the other hand, the growing complexity of urban systems requires new planning approaches, which traditional planning methods, usually short-term oriented and lacking an integrated approach, have been unable to deliver. In response to this complexity and the rising uncertainty and risks brought in by globalization and technological progress, futures studies, scenarios and strategic planning frameworks are seen by some as a sustainable alternative to traditional planning and increasingly used as creative and collaborative bases for decision-making.

Under the theme Urban Futures-Squaring Circles: Europe, China and the World in 2050 this conference will explore advances in long-term thinking for sustainability, futures studies and strategic planning. The Conference builds on an on-going project (URBACHINA), partly funded by the 7th Framework Programme of Research and Innovation of the European Commission, which entails the definition of a scenario space for urbanization to 2050, and the development of alternative scenarios for European and Chinese cities.

This comprehensive theme allows for a wide range of topics concerning the future of cities, and the challenges implied in their visioning and planning. The conference is organized around two core themes and four thematic threads:

Core Theme I. Scenarios for Cities of the Future

“Urban Concept” 2050 • Sustainable Urban Visions 2050 • Planning for cities and regions

Core Theme II. People and Societies in Future Cities

Daily life and lifestyles • Liveability and sustainability • Geography and place versus virtuality • Individual versus collective • Values and worldviews

Thematic thread A: Forward Thinking Methods

Innovative forward looking techniques: quantitative or qualitative? • The normative versus exploratory debate • Foresight and strategic planning

Thematic thread B: Governance in Future Cities

E-governance and activism • Participatory governance • Collaboration and responsibility • Solving tensions

Thematic thread C: Future of Resources

Scarcity and “enough” • Urban metabolism • Urban ecological footprint • Self-sufficiency

Thematic thread D: Future of Urban Systems

Emerging technologies for urban systems • Intelligent environments • Internet of things

The two core themes reflect the main concern of this first conference.* We are interested in the sustainable future of cities – for the people who will live there. Each thematic thread contributes directly or indirectly to this concern, and can cover several debates and topics, as fully described under THEMES. We seek to discuss current urbanization trends and resulting challenges for Cities with respect to these six interrelated topics, and to identify research priorities and collaborative opportunities between the EU and China. From a policy perspective, we aim to identify ways to strengthen the effectiveness and impact of strategic planning and scenario building in the framing and delivering of urban sustainable and liveable futures.

We welcome communications – both theoretical and empirically based papers as well as reflections on pilot studies – exploring city futures and strategic planning on any of the themes and threads, or any given relevant combination of topics. The main focus is on urban Europe and urban China. However, relevant communications on other parts of the world are also welcome. Interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral approaches are strongly encouraged.

The conference is therefore designed to provide a necessarily interdisciplinary forum for researchers and practitioners from the social sciences and the humanities, as well as the natural science fields of knowledge and practice. Besides the research community, we wish to engage companies, planners, policy makers and representatives of civil society in debating the future of cities.

* A second Conference on the theme of urban futures is planned for spring 2016, and is to be held in China (PRC).

The Organisers: Olivia Bina [1]; Andrea Ricci [2]; Luis Balula [1].

[1] Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon (for URBACHINA)

[2] Institute of Studies for the Integration of Systems, Rome (for URBACHINA)

Institute of Future Cities of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (IOFC-CUHK)

Funding Bodies: European Commission URBACHINA; Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (FCG) Lisbon; Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) Lisbon.

URBACHINA has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under Grant agreement nº 266941