Sustainable Urban Development and Smart Cities

The overarching aim of the Nordic research area on Sustainable Urban Development and Smart Cities is to address challenges of urban and regional life in cities of all sizes through thorough analysis, and use of essential knowledge for successful implementation

The research area supports cutting-edge research in the fields of sustainable urban development and smart cities. The challenges within the area require knowledge from many disciplines as well as multi-disciplinary research. The research area encourages interdisciplinary, fruitful cooperation between different research fields from socio-economic sciences and humanities to natural sciences and engineering, and to health sciences. The research area seeks to develop innovative and interdisciplinary analyses and methods in studies of urban development and smart cities.

Further, the research area has a cross-sectoral approach and aims to stimulate cooperation of the research community and public authorities in the Nordic countries. Increased Nordic collaboration, researcher mobility, and cross-sectoral collaboration/co-creation will strengthen the potential for evidence-informed policymaking by local, regional and national authorities.


Urbanisation is one of the strongest megatrends in the world. Cities of all sizes are essential for economic development and growth, new knowledge, creativity, and innovation. At the same time, cities must promote quality of life. A high concentration of people generates social, economic and environmental challenges that must be resolved; cities must be sustainable. Finding sustainable solutions to urban challenges will require cooperation across the various sectors of society, as well as in different fields of research and innovation.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030 set a broad framework for, and are a driving force behind, the programme. Sustainable Development Goal 11 is to “Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

The Nordic research area on Sustainable Urban Development and Smart Cities will produce useful knowledge and smart solutions for policy development in the whole region. Also, it contributes to building the needed capacity in the Nordic research communities, encourage more cooperation between the researchers and research communities in the Nordic countries, and between researchers and the users of research.

This research area is the first NordForsk research area that was initiated as a response to Open Invitation. The Committee for the Nordic research area on Sustainable Urban Development and Smart Cities organized a workshop on 30 January 2019 in Copenhagen, Denmark to develop contents of the Programme Memorandum. Informed by the discussions of the workshop as well as national and European programme documents, the Programme committee has developed a framework of integrated solutions and inclusive approaches to urban sustainability and smartness.


  • Ethel Forsberg, NordForsk (Chair)
  • Maria Alm, Programme Manager, Swedish Energy Agency, Sweden
  • Andreas Björke, Senior Research Officer, FORTE, Sweden
  • Tina Rebecca Hov-Gylthe, Adviser, The Research Council of Norway, Norway
  • Kristina Laurell, Senior Research Officer, Formas, Sweden
  • Risto Vilkko, Programme Manager, Research Council of Finland
  • Rasmus Malmborg, Senior Innovation Adviser, Nordic Innovation, Norway (Observer)


The total budget is NOK 52 million.


Kyösti Lempa

Kyösti Lempa

Special Adviser