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Urban Metabolism for Policy Makers

Welcome to the first online course on Urban Metabolism for Policy Makers!


The world is urbanising rapidly. In 2009, the number of people living in cities (around 3,5 billion) surpassed the number living in rural areas. While the urban population is hosted only on 3% of global land area, it is also responsible for over 70% of natural resources and energy use and for 60% pollution emissions and waste generation. While cities are responsible for the greatest share of man-made environmental impact, they are also the places 80% of global GDP is produced and are the nodes of innovation. Therefore, the fight against climate change will be won or lost in cities.

Yet, cities are extremely complex systems where social, economic, political, territorial, ecological, resource, waste, etc. challenges coexist. Urban metabolism is way to look at cities from a systemic point of view linking all the above mentioned challenges. This metaphor conceptualises the city as living organism where resource flows enter, are transformed or stocked and waste flows exit the territory. 

This course is targeting policy makers who are interested in learning how urban metabolism can help them develop more comprehensive and system urban policies in order to meet the Paris Agreement targets. 

To know what Urban Metabolism is, have a look at the following video!


This is the first MOOC provided by the GI-REC (Global Initiative for Resource Efficient Cities). The GI-REC is a cooperation platform offered by UN Environment to connect different institutions that are using systems approach (and specifically urban metabolism) towards building low-carbon, resilient and resource efficient cities. This MOOC is produced and run for you by Metabolism of Cities, in partnership with the League of Cities of the Philippines and UN Environment. 





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