Cities as Forces for Good Network

Welcome to the CFG Network

Is it possible to re-engineer the infrastructure of cities such that — in the popular metaphor of the urban ecological footprint (EF) — cities might “walk on air”? How might the infrastructure of a city be re-engineered so that that infrastructure can be used deliberately to restore natural capital and enhance ecosystem services?

These are the challenges that motivate our work on “Cities as Forces for Good in the Environment”, or CFG. They are grand indeed. They were first expressed in an essay on “Cities” by Paul Crutzen (Nobel Laureate in Chemistry), Bruce Beck (Engineer), and Michael Thompson (Anthropologist). The essay was prepared as a discussion piece for the US National Academy of Engineering’s (2006/7) Blue Ribbon Panel on “Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century”.

Our “big” questions will remain in front of us, out of reach, not fully answerable. Yet they are more likely than not to lead us to other interesting questions that we can answer — but which would never have been asked had those grand challenges not been posed in the first place.