Cities may cover just a small fraction of the Earth’s surface, yet they are densely packed powerhouses—home to over half of the global population and responsible for 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. More than ever, urban regions are undergoing rapid growth, particularly in developing nations. Cities are projected to add 2.5 billion urban residents by 2050—doubling today’s numbers—with the majority in the global south.
Challenges and Opportunities in Urban Landscapes
Rapid urbanization brings both many challenges and opportunities, as these cities become thriving hubs for economic activity, cultural exchange, and innovation, but also face many challenges related to infrastructure, sustainability, and the environment.
International frameworks, like Sustainable Development Goal 11, focus on transforming our cities into safe, resilient, and sustainable environments for everyone, with most targets in other SDGs directly relating to these urban challenges.
How GEO fits in?
In 2022, GEO prioritized Urban Resilience, linking it to broader international policies like the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework. We aim to empower cities to use Earth observations in daily management and policy decisions, to both adapt to and mitigate various pressing challenges.
GEO actively supports multiple projects related to urban resilience:
The Human Planet initiative offers innovative measurements, giving insights into human-earth interactions. It produces data on global population patterns, urban structures, and land use changes, supporting post-2015 global goals.
GUOI focuses on refining urban monitoring through satellite indicators for sustainable cities. It provides Earth Observation data on urban landscapes and is committed to enhancing Sustainable Development Goal 11 indicators.
The toolkit allows countries and cities to use Earth observations for urban sustainability. Tailored to support Sustainable Development Goal 11, it provides valuable datasets, tools, and proven methodologies, offering innovative solutions and shared experiences for urban sustainability.
As a part of GEO’s post-2025 vision, this service offers cities global insights into health risks from extreme heat. At the intersection of climate change, health, and urbanization, it aims to help cities adapt and protect both the health of citizens and the local economy from heat-related challenges.
For more information or to get involved in our Urban Resilience initiatives, please contact our coordinators Morgane or Martyn. Through global collaboration and actionable Earth intelligence, GEO is committed to fostering resilient and sustainable cities.