Thriving cities & communities

Thriving cities & communities

Cities are drivers of the global economy and face some of the world’s greatest challenges across health, climate, social well-being and prosperity.

By 2100, the world’s population is expected to reach 10 billion, and 70% of people could live in urban settings. There will be increased demands on food and health systems, water, energy and infrastructure. 80% of the urban infrastructure needed by 2050 has yet to be built. Many communities and First Nations are managing the natural resources needed for economic prosperity, such as energy, food and manufacturing materials, while facing socio-economic challenges unique to their region.

These challenges present an opportunity to directly shape the future in our own communities and around the world — including how we live and work, how we move and connect, and how we work together to create thriving cities and communities.

Connections + context

Our Faculty is ideally positioned to help cities and communities become healthy, productive, safe, inclusive and sustainable. Our focus on cities and communities integrates disciplines (2) by bringing together planners, architects and engineers to design the entirety of the built environment, from civil infrastructure to the transportation and energy networks that bind it together. We address the complex challenges (13) that arise with diverse communities within changing urban and rural landscapes, requiring human-centred, systems approaches and entrepreneurial thinking (11) to enact transformational change.

“We must make sure that innovations and applications work for people, support our communities and solve problems — not just create new ones.”

Faculty member, School of Engineering, Okanagan

UBC’s campuses are essentially small cities where we can provide risk-tolerant demonstrations of advanced community solutions (16) and environmental action (17). For example, we are the national testbed for connected vehicles that will promote safe, smart transportation in British Columbia and beyond, and we are building integrated energy platforms that will test renewable energy solutions at scale.

We promote agency (15) in our students, staff and faculty to effect change within their own communities and beyond. Our Faculty has extensive experience using a people-first, community-based approach to partnerships and a challenge-focused approach to our research. We are developing strategic partnerships (14) with communities and municipalities locally, nationally and globally to produce impactful research (12) and ensure our city-scale solutions can be used by partner communities and will improve local capacity. Our commitment to truth & reconciliation (8) is reflected in all of this.

Planetary health