The Symposium

Urban Sustainability in South Asia and Latin America

September 20-22, 2018
North Carolina State University

The Symposium

The first R. L. Rabb Science and Society Symposium brings together a group of interdisciplinary scholars, writers, artists, and practitioners addressing urban sustainability issues, with a focus on the emerging mega-cities of Latin America and South Asia. The Symposium starts on Thursday with a brief introduction to the wealth of North-Carolina-based projects on urban sustainability developed at NC State. On Friday we have a full day of panels bringing together presenters from the United States, Latin America, and South Asia. We conclude on Saturday with a planning workshop focused on building further collaborations between NC State researchers and institutions and scholars beyond our state. The public is warmly welcomed to join the three days of activities—all located in Hunt library—and to help us build our knowledge and expertise in addressing urban sustainability.

Why Urban Sustainability?

A growing majority of the world’s population lives in cities. The fastest population growth and urban expansion are taking place in the global south—Asia, Africa and Latin America—in regions that include some of the world’s most biodiversity-rich hotspots. These areas often have limited economic and institutional resources to deal with the growth. This juxtaposition creates enormous challenges in achieving sustainability, but there are also opportunities to better manage the natural capital represented by urban ecosystems.

Cities provide the everyday living environment for a rapidly growing proportion of the world’s population. They also leave footprints in ecosystems in other parts of the world. Increasing the livability and self-sufficiency of cities is thus crucial for achieving sustainable development. Natural ecosystems provide humans with everything from food, to feelings of joy, to protection against storms. Supporting and enhancing these ecosystem functions can be a cost-effective way to move towards more sustainable urban development trajectories. This clearly demands an interdisciplinary approach to understand how urban populations perceive, interact with, and benefit from nature. With the first R. L. Rabb Science and Society Symposium we hope to contribute to establishing a fruitful dialogue between different understandings of urban sustainability.

A Note on Hurricane Florence

As we prepared for the symposium, Hurricane Florence hit the eastern and southern parts of North Carolina. The storm had devastating impacts in many communities, claiming lives and displacing thousands of people.  For those who want to help with funds or volunteering, we recomend the following resources:

State of NC Disaster Assistance – North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund

Blueprint North Carolina – Eastern North Carolina Hurricane Florence Frontline Recovery Fund