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26 MAR 2021 (FRI) 15:30-16:30

Can we develop an urban growth theory?

Via Zoom

Professor Peng GONG Vice-President & Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Development), HKU

Peng Gong is Chair Professor of global sustainability at University of

Hong Kong. He built the Department of Earth System Science at

Tsinghua University and served as Dean of School of Sciences at

Tsinghua. He also served as the founding director of Tsinghua Urban

Institute. He had previously taught at the University of Calgary and

the University of California, Berkeley. His major research interests

include mapping, monitoring and modeling of global environmental

change, and modelling of environmentally related infectious diseases

such as schistosomiasis, avian influenza, dengue and COVID-19, and

healthy and sustainable cities. He is the author/co-author of over 600

articles and 8 books. He chaired/co-chaired 8 Lancet Commission

reports on climate change and health, and healthy cities in China.


Quantifying the development of global cities and understanding their growth patterns can provide important guidance to planning and management of future cities. Here, we propose a quantifiable scaling-based framework for evaluating the development of global cities. We examined the global urban development from 2000 to 2015 in three dimensions that are critical to the sustainable development of cities. They are the gross domestic product (GDP), built-up area (BUA), and CO2 emissions. We find a universal pattern that the intensity growth of cities presents an inverted U-shape curve. In each dimension, cities at intermediate economic levels experience the most rapid intensity growth, which serves as the dominant driver of the city’s development.


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