Future of Cities  

Preparing urban practitioners for future challenges  

Two young boys in blue tops look out over Greenwich park to London's skyline
Preparing for the future of cities. Photo: Fas Khan on Unsplash

How can we prepare for an unknown future when making decisions now about cities? Our research programme looks for inspiration beyond London and asks how built environment professionals can future-proof their projects.   

“Cities are here to stay, and the future of humanity is undoubtedly urban.” (UN-Habitat 2022)

By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas (a projected increase from just over half in 2021). So the future of cities is likely to shape the future of life on our planet. 

We already know the way we tackle urgent global challenges such as the climate emergency will have a decisive impact on cities in 2050 and beyond. We also know there will be other challenges – we just can’t be sure what they are.  

Resilient cities: read the write-up of our virtual field trip to Sydney on 30 November here.

Future of London is launching a programme of inquiry to help gear up for the future of cities. We will look beyond London to the rest of the UK and across the globe. We will ask: 

  • how should people working in the built environment sector develop a mindset that enables them to act for the future?  
  • how can we future-proof the decisions we must take today?  
  • how can we respond, adapt and innovate in collaboration with other cities around the world that are facing the same complex challenges?  

Preparing for the future of cities 

There are lots of big ideas, and the topic is vast, but the outputs will be practical. More than anything, we hope to equip future urban leaders with ideas, actions and a mindset that enables them to prepare for an uncertain urban future while acting confidently and decisively now.  

What is the Future of Cities programme? 

Future of Cities aims to inspire and energise through fresh thinking and practical insights into inclusive, sustainable and innovative responses to major urban challenges. 

We will work with other cities to try to find joint solutions to the big urban challenges. These could include digital innovation and data, resource use and climate resilience, citizen engagement, and health and wellbeing.  

We’ll showcase practical case studies and research to find out how other cities are facing the future. This is a long-term programme designed to pinpoint the lessons London can learn – and what it can share with others.  

Events for urban practitioners 

For the initial phase, we’ve been on a virtual field trip and have delivered an innovative World Café highlighting best practice from cities across other UK and around the world.  

Through these events and our other knowledge and leadership programmes and networks, we’ve been gathering input, testing ideas and developing action research. The end goal is to forge deep links beyond London, generating knowledge exchange and collaboration to make better cities, far into the future.  

Get involved 

For more information about this project, please contact Sarah Yates. 

Supported by Arup and Sheppard Robson  


What do our Future London Leaders propose for the future of cities? Find out more here. 


Scene of a bay in Sydney with wide boulevard and water in the foreground and sky scrapers in the background
Sydney and the resilient city

On 30 November we went on a virtual field trip to Sydney, Australia, to find out how it is becoming a resilient city to prepare for future urban challenges. Read the write-up here.

Sign up to our mailing list to find out about the planned events in the Future of Cities programme first. 


Urban October: 31 Days of Promoting a Better Urban Future (UN-Habitat). 


We would love to hear from you if you have case studies or evidence of impact in other UK or in international cities. Contact us