The Scientific Seminar “Biocities: placing nature and people at the centre of the urban environment” will facilitate an international science-policy-practice dialogue on the transformative potential of trees, forests, and wood (and other biomaterials) to rethink the build environment and create healthy, sustainable and resilient cities as well as rural-urban sustainable interfaces.
For the first time in human history, globally, we have more people living in cities than in rural areas. Cities already account for more than 80% of global economic output, consume close to two-thirds of the world’s energy, and account for more than 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Every day our cities add around two hundred thousand people more, which explains that by 2050 more than two thirds of the global population will live in urban areas. Rural out-migration to urban areas and the urbanisation of lifestyles also beyond city borders is happening at record speed and on a scale the world has never experienced before, giving birth to what some scientists start calling the era of Urbanocene.
This also means that cities represent at the same time our greatest challenges but also the greatest opportunities to transform our existing linear fossil-based economy system towards a new economic paradigm where prosperity takes place within the planetary boundaries and its renewable potential. This requires a new and synergistic relationship between economy and ecology, as well as new and fair partnerships connecting rural and urban areas. In this context, trees, forests and wood can become the backbone for sustainable and resilient cities.
The use of trees and forests in urban areas does not only support human health and wellbeing and are critical for urban biodiversity. They also reduce the energy needs for cooling and heating in buildings as well as the urban heat island effect. In addition, wood is key to replace non-renewable and carbon intense materials like plastics, steel or concrete while de facto transform cities into carbon storage infrastructures.