• Urban Age Conferences

    Shaping the future of global cities

What are Urban Age Debates?

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally challenged the nature of cities. The closure of borders and businesses and social distancing are having an impact in almost all cities worldwide and are threatening urban life as we know it. A reassessment of issues such as density, urban economy, mobility, governance and sustainability could be the result. Urban Age is now taking up these issues with the "Urban Age Debates", a series of five virtual events between 2021 and 2022 – a global investigation of urban futures after 2020.

Why Urban Age Debates?

Today, metropolises around the world are facing the challenges of a triple crisis - the corona pandemic, new demands for social justice, and the global climate crisis. In the urban context, too, the corona pandemic is acting as a catalyst for digitization and sustainability in particular. Issues such as working from home or shopping behavior, but also changing mobility, are having an impact on the social fabric of the urban population. The expert panels of the Urban Age Debates provide impulses for thinking and acting for a future of cities which benefits its inhabitants.

How do Urban Age Debates work?

The Urban Age Debates draw on interviews with key urban leaders, new data on urban dynamics (terralytics), and results from several surveys of urban stakeholders. Each event focuses on key challenges for cities in a post-COVID-19 world. Participants in the debates include Richard Florida, Professor of Economic Analysis and Policy at the University of Toronto; Ayesha Khanna, Co-Founder and CEO of ADDO AI; entrepreneur and board member Janina Kugel; Edward Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard University; award-winning designer Thomas Heatherwick; and other pioneering architects and planners. The debates will be accompanied by experienced commentators such as Camilla Cavendish, Contributing Editor at the Financial Times and Isabell Dedring, ARUP. The series of virtual events is complemented by short videos featuring key urban actors, blog posts by urban experts, new data on city dynamics and surveys on how we may live, work, play and move in the post-2020 city.

Updates, more details, and information on how to participate can be found on our social media or on this website under activities.

If you have any questions about the project, please contact Elisabeth Mansfeld.

What is the Urban Age Conference?

Continuing population growth and urbanisation will add 2.5 billion people to the world’s urban population by 2050, with nearly 90 per cent of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa. The Urban Age Conferences, jointly organized by LSE Cities and Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft, focus on the development of cities in rapidly urbanising countries. Since 2005, Urban Age Conferences have been held in 13 cities across four continents, most recently in Addis Ababa, Delhi, Hong Kong, Rio de Janeiro, London and at the Venice Biennale.

Why Urban Age Conference?

The aim of the Urban Age Conferences is to better understand the complex dynamics of contemporary urbanization: How do people, institutions, policymakers, investors and designers affect the physical form of cities? How do cities react to global trends like climate change and digitalization and how do cities adapt to that change? And how does that impact the way we live in them? How can cities meet the expectations that new urban dwellers place on them, and provide work, education, and other possibilities of a better life? The Urban Age Conference considers the fact that decisions that need to be taken now will affect generations of urban dwellers well into the 21st century.

How does the Urban Age Conference work?

By convening urban experts, policymakers, and practitioners from all over the world, the Urban Age Conferences investigate how current models of planning and governance succeed, raise questions about the economic foundations of urban change or how to achieve greater integration between efficiency, accessibility, and social justice. Discussions are structured around interlinked policy issues: well-being, housing and social inclusion; economic development, productivity, and urban form; urban accessibility, transport, and technology; and urban governance and infrastructure development.

More information about the Urban Age Conferences is available on the Urban Age website please contact Elisabeth Mansfeld, head of Cities programme.