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Sustainable Cities and Communities

One of the University of Gothenburg’s aspirations is to work within and for society, and urban areas are becoming increasingly important areas of study. Within the Faculty of Science, researchers and teachers are actively working with Goal 11.


Urbanisation is increasing rapidly in the world. Today more than half of the world’s population lives in or near cities. A population that is becoming more and more concentrated affects both social conditions and the environment, increasing the risk of social schisms, slums, poor air quality, lack of clean water and land degradation. Climate change also is going to greatly affect the urban environment.

Studies of urban air quality

Gothenburg has extensive experience with research into the air we breathe, especially in cities. Much of the focus is on the study of particles in the atmosphere, including how they are generated and how they then interact with other substances in the air. For example, a collaborative project with China is studying photochemical smog, which impairs air quality in cities with millions of residents.
More locally in Gothenburg, a project is looking into particulate emissions from different types of city buses. The secondary contribution to the atmosphere, when particles react with other substances, usually has a greater impact on the environment than the primary contribution. Another concrete example of results from applied research is a tool that combines climate models with live data from monitoring stations and vehicles. This can help improve forecasts and provide decision support for snow removal contractors.

More pleasant places

Another area being studied is how the atmosphere and vegetation influence each other. In recent years, studies of ecosystem effects from vegetation in cities and elsewhere have received a lot of attention. Green plants can help to lower the temperature, for example. Urban climate is also affected by how close buildings are to each other and what materials are used. Local weather conditions can have a major impact on factors like how public places are actually used.
One aspect of sustainability in cities is taking care of and reusing existing buildings – perceiving the value in what currently exists. Over the years, the Department of Conservation has increasingly introduced a sustainability perspective to both research and teaching. Conservation in the form of old buildings, landscapes, building materials, objects and even old knowledge of crafts and other historical qualities can be preserved and recycled. Collaborative projects in the wake of very rapid urbanisation are taking place in the Balkans and other areas.
In other words, understanding of the urban environment is ever growing, as is how people with scientific knowledge and tools can mitigate the most severe effects of an increasingly dense population in urban areas.

This is Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Cities are hubs for ideas, commerce, culture, science, productivity, social development and much more. At their best, cities have enabled people to advance socially and economically.

However, many challenges exist to maintaining cities in a way that continues to create jobs and prosperity while not straining land and resources. Common urban challenges include congestion, lack of funds to provide basic services, a shortage of adequate housing and declining infrastructure.

Source: The UN's Official website for Sustainable Develpoment Goals

Page Manager: Erika Hoff|Last update: 9/25/2018
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