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Multi-Sectoral Urban Interactions: Fundamental Science Needs to Inform Pathways to More Resilient Communities in a Changing Climate

Event Details:

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 - Friday, July 23, 2021


Virtual Event


  • Public Plenary Session: Wednesday, July 21, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm Pacific, 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm Eastern
  • In-Depth Discussion and Synthesis: Thursday, July 22 - Friday, July 23, 8:00 am to 1:30 pm Pacific, 11:00 am to 4:30 pm Eastern


The MultiSector Dynamics Community of Practice Working Group on Urban Systems invites you to participate in a 3-day virtual event convening urban science experts from diverse disciplinary backgrounds. We aim to develop a shared understanding of the fundamental science challenges and research needs to support urban resilience in the face of climate change and related stressors, and to foster the collaborations needed to address those challenges.


  • Christa Brelsford, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Andrew Jones, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


Urban areas and the supply networks that support their resource use are inherently multisectoral systems composed of infrastructural, environmental, and socio-institutional components.  These systems are vulnerable to accelerating and interacting stresses from climate change, population growth, resource scarcity, and land-use pressure at the same time as they have a major influence on regional and global systems.  For instance, a majority of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, food consumption, and economic activity can be attributed to urban areas.  Urban areas are highly heterogenous, both across and within cities in terms of their socio-demographic, environmental, and infrastructural characteristics.  This heterogeneity shapes how urban systems interact and co-evolve and contributes to different economic, environmental, and health outcomes for communities within urban areas. Urban heterogeneity also generates differential vulnerabilities to stressors and differential capacity for adapting to change. The evolution of urban space is thus critical in shaping how human societies respond to global change as they seek to improve resilience to stressors, support prosperous and equitable communities, and use natural resources in a sustainable manner.  Developing fundamental scientific understanding of urban heterogeneity and system interactions across sectors and scales is critical for mapping the resilience, sustainability, and equity implications of alternative future pathways.


Dr. Luis Bettencourt is the inaugural director of the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation.  His research investigates the  fundamental processes that drive, shape and sustain cities - and the opportunities that come with being a city in the 21st century.

Dr. Karen Seto is one of the world's leading experts on contemporary urbanization and global environmental change.  She is co-leading the urban mitigation chapter for the IPCC 6th assessment report, and the IPCCs upcoming special report on cities.

Dr. Anu Ramaswami is a pioneer in the topic of sustainable urban infrastructure systems. Her work explores how cities’ physical systems shape environmental sustainability, human health and wellbeing, and distributional equity from local to global scales.

Dr. Paul Waddell leads the development of the UrbanSim model of urban development.  His research focuses on assessing of the impacts of planning choices on outcomes such as spatial patterns of real estate prices, travel behavior, and emissions.


Wednesday, July 21

10:00 - 10:20 PT Welcome and Workshop Overview- Christa Brelsford and Andy Jones

10:20 - 10:30 PT MultiSector Dynamics Community of Practice Overview- Richard Moss

10:30 - 11:30 PT Keynote Speaker Panel

11:30 PT - 11:55 PT Moderated Discussion

11:55 PT - 12:00 PT Concluding Thoughts and Overview of Days 2 and 3

Thursday, July 22

8:00 - 9:30 PT Breakout Session 1 - Climate Hazards

  • 8:00 - 8:10 PT Intro: Andy Jones
  • 8:10 - 9:10 PT Breakouts
    • Extreme Heat
    • Flooding
    • Drought
    • Wildfire and Smoke
  • 9:10 - 9:30 PT Groups Share Highlights

9:30 - 10:00 PT Break, Zoom will remain open

10:00 - 11:30 PT Breakout Session 2 - Social Scales

  • 10:00 - 10:10 PT Intro: Christa Brelsford
  • 10:10 - 11:10 PT Breakouts
    • Individual and Household
    • Community and Neighborhood
    • City and Regional
    • National and Global
  • 11:10 - 11:30 PT Groups Share Highlights

11:30 - 12:00 PT Break, Zoom will remain open

12:00 - 1:30 PT Networking Session

12:00 - 12:45 PT Speed dating in groups of 2-3

12:45 - 1:30 PT Breakout rooms available for additional conversation

Friday July 23
8:00 - 9:30 PT Breakout Session 3 - Sectors and Systems

  • 8:00 - 8:10 PT Intro: Andy Jones
  • 8:10 - 9:10 PT Breakouts
    • Energy
    • Water
    • Built Environment
    • Health
  • 9:10 - 9:30 PT Groups Share Highlights

9:30 - 10:00 PT Break, Zoom will remain open

10:00 - 11:30 PT Breakout Session 4 - Epistemologies

  • 10:00 - 10:10 PT Intro: Christa Brelsford
  • 10:10 - 11:10 PT Breakouts
    • Observations, Data Science, and Machine Learning
    • Theory and Frameworks
    • Modeling
    • Decision Science and Co-Production
  • 11:10 - 11:30 PT Groups Share Highlights

11:30 - 12:30 PT Break, Zoom will remain open

12:30 - 1:30 PT Synthesis Session

  • 12:30 - 1:00 PT Rapporteur Key Take-Aways
  • 1:00 - 1:30 PT Open Plenary Discussion

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