15. Urban sustainability research in practice: cross-cutting solutions to cross-cutting issues

Cities worldwide, including in Finland, face multiple overlapping challenges. To name a few: climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity loss, pollution, growing socio-economic and socio-ecological inequalities, energy or fuel affordability, and the cost-of-living crisis. Investigating such complex challenges and their dynamic (co-)development often demands novel combinations of data sources, as well as methodological developments cutting across disciplines and various dimensions of sustainability. For both academics and city planners, making sense of information and research traditions of multiple disciplines may also pose novel challenges. For example, careful navigation of trade-offs to optimise equitable socio-economic development while remaining within our planetary boundaries and ensuring a healthy environment for all is often required. Nonetheless, potential challenges are outweighed by the opportunities cross-cutting approaches can offer. Hence, the key aim of our session is to provide a platform for presenting such approaches, as well as for discussing obstacles of trans-, inter-, and multidisciplinary urban research and their results’ translation into practice at the crossroads of social, economic, and environmental sustainability.

Thus, to this session we invite presenters to share their cutting-edge research that combines data – be it quantitative or qualitative – in urban settings from at least two traditionally distinct disciplines or themes in a broad sense, but related to environmental, economic, or social sustainability. Such combinations may include, but are not limited to e.g., “environmental information & socio-economic data”, “atmospheric data & built environment information”, “vegetation data & urban mobility information”. In addition, we invite officials from cities and other practitioners to participate in the discussion. Further, we will also present the findings and challenges of the “Sustainable Urban Development Emerging from the Merger of Cutting-edge Climate, Social and Computer Sciences” project that has aimed to build an artificial intelligence (AI) model optimising traffic flow, socio-economic structure, and air pollution in a newly built neighbourhood in Helsinki, Finland.

The session will revolve around questions like “how to tap into the potential of novel data and methods, e.g., AI for sustainable urban planning?”; “how to overcome obstacles in interdisciplinary research for sustainability?”; and “how to keep up with rapidly changing cities while data often lags?”.


Ákos Gosztonyi 1,2,3
University of Helsinki

Pak Lun Fung 2,4
University of Helsinki

Niharika Singh 2,5,6
University of Helsinki

Sanna Ala-Mantila 1,2,6
University of Helsinki

1, Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme (ECOENV), Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki
2, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), University of Helsinki
3, Helsinki Inequality Initiative (INEQ), University of Helsinki
4, Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research / Physics (INAR), Faculty of Science, University of Helsinki
5, Department of Computer Science, University of Helsinki

6, Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies (URBARIA), University of Helsinki