The upside of Urbanisation: Cities as Innovation Ecosystems

For the first time ever, sometime in the middle of 2007, over half of the total human population were living in urban areas. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have entered an unprecedented and unique era; The Urban Millennium.

Urbanisation brings with it significant challenges but also exciting opportunities. So many people striving to create better lives for themselves in so close a proximity can lead to the ability to create new structures and systems of innovation. These systems have many of the same characteristics as ecosystems; they are emergent, self-organising, mutually dependent and are characterised by surprise and tipping points.

This means that urban areas can be, if the right conditions are in place, sites of large-scale positive change. At Globe Forum Dublin, Urban Innovation Ecosystems will be a key focus. Indeed, Dublin itself is working towards becoming one such system and John Tierney, Dublin City Manager will share his vision for Dublin.

Many of the most exciting and effective developments in terms of transitions towards sustainability are happening within cities. An organisation that is attuned to the potential of urban areas (who will be sharing their insights at the forum)  is the Integral City – Meshworking evolutionary intelligences for the human hive and eco-regional resilience.

The Integral team meshworkers take the ecosystem metaphor very, very seriously and in their work they:

“…explore the city as a whole system like the human equivalent of the beehive. We use an integral meta-framework to reframe the city as a resilient, vibrant human habitat in dynamic balance with its eco-region.”

Cities are complex, messy, interlinked and unpredictable places. When these elements are put in the context of the social and environmental challenges that we face as urbanised humans, only a truly visionary approach and real innovations at many different levels of society will suffice. As the forum gets closer, I may share some more examples of how cities can be seen as part of the solution and not just part of the problem.

Conceptualising the Urban Ecosystem. Image Credit: Annette Löf


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