Urban KAN Steering Committee Meeting

Our steering committee met for three days this month in Canberra (Australia) to define the Urban KAN's work agenda, crystallizing key issues and areas which can create and accelerate transformative change for sustainability. 

Attendees included our co-chairs Xuemei Bai and Timon McPhearson, steering committee members Shu-Li Huang, Xiangzheng Deng, Noboro Zama, Jago Dodson, Kensuke Fukushi, Siir Kilkis and Tayanah O'Donnell. Inputs were contributed remotely by Harini Nagendra, Tischa Munoz-Erickson and Shuaib Lwasa. Thomas Elmqvist and Niki Frantzeskaki were out special guests, and Giles Sioen and Eleanor Robson supported the meeting. 

Along with working as a group to define the priorities and activities of the network, individuals had the opportunity to pitch research proposals for new knowledge, collaboration and action. Those ideas which were adopted by the steering committee will be fleshed out in the lead up and during our next in person meeting in Japan, March 2020.

We would like to thank the University of Tokyo for providing financial support and Future Earth Australia for hosting our meeting.


Strategic priorities

In considering the colossal challenges that we face in a rapidly transforming world, our steering committee got to drilling down into the ways that a collaborative network can have the most impact in putting our cities and societies onto sustainable trajectories.

This informed the elaboration of our strategic priorities, which focus our activity:

  • To identify and respond to society's needs for scientific knowledge to successfully undertake the transformation to sustainability 
  • To generate integrated knowledge that is relevant to decision makers
  • To develop and cultivate research that is solution-driven, inter- and trans-disciplinary
  • To add value to research that is or has been carried out already.

Research priorities

We see cities as not only a key arena for driving achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, but also an important testing ground for realizing accelerated transitions. In this context, we've defined five areas we see as critical for collaborative urban knowledge and action around the world. 

We'll be elaborating on a collection of research priorities as they develop. Our priorities are all underpinned by our ethos of doing research and practice that is systems-based and co-designed. We believe these elements are critical for work that is inclusive and effective. 

  1. Accelerate transition pathways
  2. Ensure equity and inclusivity
  3. Amplify innovation from the urban south
  4. Negotiate complexity and interdependency
  5. Navigate global environmental change

Activities in 2020

We have a range of short- and medium-term work priorities coming out of our meeting. Working groups across our steering committee have been devised to work through the following activities.

We will be next meeting in person in Japan in March 2020, where we will be assessing progress  and elaborating upon the following work pieces, and setting a foundation for self-organizing research projects across the Urban KAN Network. 

  • We will be drafting an Urban KAN Science Plan to fully articulate our research priorities. This will link into other valuable work being done across our networks.
  • We will be further developing our formal governance plan and looking to growth our Advisory Group
  • We will further develop our communication strategy and priorities 
  • We've proposed a variety of sessions on pressing research and action priorities at the Sustainability Research and Innovation 2020 Congress in Brisbane, Australia in June 2020. We will report back on the SRI2020 Program and any accepted sessions in coming newsletters and encourage you to consider attending and getting involved in our activities. 
  • We will circulate a survey to all people in our network to get insight on why you joined the Urban KAN and what you'd like from the network.