By 2050 the world population is expected to reach 10 billion people, with 70-80% living in urban areas. At the same time, the availability of natural capital is becoming a limiting factor for sustaining economic activity. Therefore, cities that want to be able to secure thriving lives for all their residents need to find ways to advance wellbeing, within the resource budget of nature. How can cities secure the required physical resources without depleting natural capital? How can they thrive on a limited resource budget? What is the role of cities, both to avoid risks and seize opportunities? If we do not measure what we treasure, we will not be able to manage cities successfully. Cities need better decision tools that take resource availability into account. This presentation explores how cities can track their overarching performance in a world increasingly defined by climate change and resource constraints. It identifies key metrics for understanding risks and for turning every budget decision into an opportunity for advancing lasting well-being. Ultimately, the rapid urbanization trends can become a force for lasting poverty eradication, if managed well.

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Speaker: Mathis Wackernagel

Mathis Wackernagel, Ph.D., is co-creator of the Ecological Footprint and CEO of Global Footprint Network (, an international sustainability think-tank. The think-tank focuses on bringing about a sustainable human economy in which all can live well, within the means of one planet. It proposes the Ecological Footprint, which measures how much nature we use, how much nature we have, as a tool for bringing ecological limits to the center of decision-making everywhere. Mathis has worked on sustainability on six continents and lectured at more than a hundred universities. From 2011to 2014 Mathis was also a visiting professor at Cornell University. His awards include the 2015 IAIA Global Environment Award, the 2013 Prix Nature Swisscanto, the 2012 Blue Planet Prize, the 2012 Binding-Prize for Nature Conservation, the 2012 Kenneth E. Boulding Memorial Award of the International Society for Ecological Economics, the 2011 Zayed International Prize for the Environment, an honorary doctorate from the University of Berne in 2007, a 2007 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, a 2006 WWF Award for Conservation Merit and the 2005 Herman Daly Award of the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics.