Urbanization and urban system sustainability in the Anthropocene

10:00-12:00, Nov 22 2021, CST; 13:00-15:00, Nov 22 2021, AEDT; 19:00-21:00, Nov 21 2021, MST

Slides and Video for the presentation.

Prof. Xuemei Bai is a Distinguished Professor of Urban Environment and Human Ecology at Australian National University. Her research focuses on the science and policy of rapid urbanization and urban system sustainability. She has published extensively, with many appearing in top journals such as Nature and Science. Prof. Bai is a Fellow of Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, and was named as one of the World's 100 Most Influential People in Climate Change Policy in 2019. She is the 2018 Laureate of the Volvo Environment Prize, and the 2021 Laureate of Kiel Global Economy Prize.


Urbanization is one of the mega-trends and processes that drive the complex human – environment interactions in the Anthropocene. Urban systems, via its multiple processes complex and interlinkages within and across cities and their local, regional and global hinterlands, are actively shaping the our collective pathways towards global sustainability. This talk will explore three things. Firstly, it will briefly summarize urbanization and the impacts of cities in the Anthropocene. It will explore how we can understand the interlinkages within and across cities as complex systems, how these interlinkages may exacerbate vulnerabilities or enhance resilience in cities, and how systems approach can help finding solutions to complex urban problems. Finally, building around the notion of urban sustainability experiments and transition, it will look into the nature and making of innovative practices of real-world cities, the institutional structures and other factors that can hinder or accelerate the upscaling of the successful experiments.

Research interests

  • Understanding the structure, function and processes of urban social ecological system
  • Drivers and impacts of urbanisation, including the impact of landscape urbanisation on food production
  • Urban environmental evolution
  • Urban metabolism - urban energy, water, food, material flows and social economic determinants
  • Cities and climate change
  • Urban policy and governance
  • Urban resilience and cities as complex system
  • Low carbon, eco-city development
  • Sustainability experiments, system innovation, transition and transformation
  • Concept and method development for cross-case analysis
  • Regional development and environmental policy in China
  • Urban futures in the Anthropocene

Recent Publications

  • Peng, Y & Bai, X 2021, 'Financing urban low-carbon transition: The catalytic role of a citylevel special fund in shanghai', Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 282.
  • Bai, X, Nagendra, H, Shi, P et al. 2020, 'Cities: build networks and share plans to emerge stronger from COVID-19', Nature, vol. 584, no. 7822, pp. 517-520pp.
  • Hu, Y, Cui, S, Bai, X et al. 2020, 'Transboundary Environmental Footprints of the Urban Food Supply Chain and Mitigation Strategies', Environmental Science and Technology, vol. 54, no. 17, pp. 10460−10471pp.
  • Zhang, Y, Bai, X & Mills, F 2020, 'Characterizing energy-related occupant behavior in residential buildings: Evidence from a survey in Beijing, China', Energy and Buildings, vol. 214.
  • Liu, H, Bai, X & Pang, X 2020, 'Intercity variability and local factors influencing the level of pesticide residues in marketed fruits and vegetables of China', Science of the Total Environment, vol. 700.