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Hollywood actor and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity Edward Norton has lent his voice to a new video explaining the challenges and opportunities that come with an increasingly urbanized planet.
The video, entitled An Urbanizing Planet, takes viewers on a stunning satellite-viewed tour around our planet. By combining more than 10 datasets, and using GIS processing software and 3D graphic applications, the video shows not only where urbanization will be most extensive, but also how the majority of the expansion will occur in areas adjacent to biodiversity hotspots.
The video was produced to present the framework of a new book Global Urbanization, Biodiversity, and Ecosystems: Challenges and Opportunities — A Global Assessment. The scientific foundation of the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook project, the book presents the world's first assessment of how global urbanization and urban growth impact biodiversity and ecosystems. It builds on contributions by more than 200 scientists worldwide.
The book and video were launched in New York as part of UN-Habitat´s World Habitat Day 2013 celebrations. The book states that over 60 percent of the land projected to become urban by 2030 has yet to be built, but emphasizes that this presents a major opportunity to greatly improve global sustainability. By promoting low-carbon, resource-efficient urban development, it is possible to reduce adverse effects on biodiversity and improve quality of life, it says.
Redefining the role of cities
The book is a collaborative effort led by the Stockholm Resilience Centre of Stockholm University and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, with significant support from UN-Habitat, UNESCO, and ICLEI — Local Governments for Sustainability.
It calls for "...a redefinition of the role of cities in natural resource management so that they increasingly become sources and stewards of ecosystem services rather than sinks", says SRC professor Thomas Elmqvist, the scientific editor of the book.