The Regional Science Academy, in cooperation with ICOMOS and UN-HABITAT UNIVERSITIES HUB, organized an “Advanced Brainstorm Carrefour (ABC) – Science of the City” meeting at the University Federico II, in Naples. Chaired by Luigi Fusco Girard, Peter Nijkamp and Karima Kourtit, the meeting was held in March 22 and 23, bringing together almost 20 experts who have provided a significant contribution to a fundamental reflection on the roots and effects of the modern city.
The focus of the meeting was not only on economic and social determinants of urban development, but also on architectural, ecological and mobility dimensions of modern cities. Major attention was paid to urban landscapes, urban environments, urban regeneration and revitalization, and creative urban ‘ambiances’, seen from the perspective that the ‘city is the home of man’ and assuming that there is by no means a uniform conceptual framework on the genesis and persistence of our ‘urban century’, nowadays often called the ‘New Urban World’.
This challenging effort was based on historical overviews, current paradigms and innovative Imagineering exercises on the essence of a city, based on fundamental contributions and thought provoking brainstorm sessions, with a view to the identification of research needs on future urban issues, in the light of the important global challenges that will be decisive for our urban futures. Clearly, such contributions transcended monodisciplinary borders and opened new perspectives on the future of the settlement patterns within the emerging ‘New Urban World’, calling for balanced policy principles in urban design.
In order to explore the unknown future of the ‘urban century’, the challenges put forward in the ‘2030 Agenda’ of the UN General Assembly (which provides a historic vision for improving the living conditions of our society) as well as the Paris COP21 document ( which makes a convincing plea for a de-carbonization of local, regional and national economies) were also addressed. These documents call for a strong scientific orientation on urban issues, while all 16/17 strategic goals (and the resulting 169 targets) have to be realized within the physical space of cities and territories. This may lead to the need for urban sustainability science as a unifying principle connecting important policy issues such as climate change, environment, poverty, safety, dense urbanisation, knowledge creation and spillover, etc.
City science is not an isolated island activity. It ought to be positioned in a broader context of international knowledge acquisition and dissemination. Against this background, the ABC in Napoli has positioned the ‘Science for the City’ challenge in the context of the UN Habitat HUB of Universities initiative on ‘Urban Regeneration’ from a global perspective. It is clear that joining forces is one of the ambitious goals of this ABC under the auspices of the Regional Science Academy.