Research and analysis

Future Cities Dialogue: investigating UK urban system integration

This report reveals the challenges and trends influencing urban development and presents 3 visions of how the future could look in 2040.


Future Cities Dialogue: a project investigating urban system integration in the UK

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In 2008 we became an urban rather than rural species with more of us living in cities than in the country for the first time. This trend is set to increase and, by 2040, more than 70% of us will be living in urban areas globally.

The most successful and resilient cities are those that adapt to the changing world around them. But cities can’t meet future challenges without improving the way they integrate their urban systems.

The Future Cities Dialogue project was set up to investigate urban system integration in the UK. The project reveals what city–level system integration could look like as a whole picture, rather than as a series of snapshots.

The research reveals the challenges and trends influencing urban development, both globally and in the UK. It also identifies the factors influencing development of 6 urban systems - food, energy, water, waste, transport and health.

The aim of this project was to stimulate structured thinking about the future to improve decisions made today by:

  • identifying risks and opportunities
  • informing strategy development
  • stimulating innovation

Visions of the future

The report contains the results of a stakeholder consultation. Over 200 people gave their views on how we could be living in 2040 and the kinds of technologies we’ll be using.

Participants included futurists, thought leaders and residents, from York, Glasgow and London. Specialist experts - on topics ranging from water to energy and food - also took part. Their views helped create a series of visions to illustrate the range of likely futures we will face.

System integration principles

The report suggests successful system integration solutions should be:

  • resilient and evolutionary
  • tech–enabled but not tech–centred
  • well–governed
  • sustainable
  • human–centred
  • globally–linked
  • value–networked
  • transparent

About the project team

The project team included Forum for the Future, Innovate UK, Sciencewise and Ipsos Mori.

Published 21 March 2017