How can we keep our densely populated earth liveable?

Applied research

This challenge calls for a solution and it is aimed at attempting to solve a problem.


With over 7 billion people living on the planet today and estimates reaching between 8 and 11 billion by 2050 and up to 15 billion by 2100, the human population will continue to grow exponentially.

The world is overpopulated, and with seventy percent of the world population living in cities in just a few decades, we need to come up with a comprehensive response to such challenging issues as population growth, changes in ecological structures (e.g. water management and nature conservation), traffic and transport regulation, and economic and social welfare. In a densely populated world it is hugely important to consider all these interests and to find an acceptable balance between investments in infrastructure and facilities (e.g. for water management) and the efficient use of those facilities. Harmonisation and coordination are necessary to keep our world liveable – both literally and figuratively. It also raises questions on health and safety, and prevention of pandemics in overcrowded cities.

The main goal of this challenge is to explore how we can keep and make our densely populated earth more liveable.

Perspectives and possible directions

Overpopulated cities is among the most pressing environmental issues, silently aggravating the forces behind global warming, environmental pollution, habitat loss, the sixth mass extinction, intensive farming practices and the consumption of finite natural resources, such as fresh water, arable land and fossil fuels, at speeds faster than their rate of regeneration.

However, ecological issues are just one part of the issue. We need to consider social challenges like, poverty, inequality, freedom, traffic, safety and privacy issues, but also health related issues such as an increased emergence of new pandemics, emissions, pollution and depletion of natural resources.

And how does climate change and migration due to climate change and all its consequences, come into play?

Research may for example concern the effects of chemical substances and technology on health, for example emissions, radiation, electromagnetic fields, ultrafine particulate matter, and lighting of big cities. It also, however, may explore how green vegetation can contribute to a healthy living and working environment, and a more sustainable built environment.

Another aspect is digitization. The world is increasingly digitized, while people are becoming more individualistic and living longer than they used to. The built environment must be designed to serve both practical/aesthetic and ecological/social aims; buildings must be safe for people to inhabit and set up to allow the elderly to live independently as long as possible. It will be increasingly important in such urban settings to design buildings and living environments that contribute positively to human health.

We also encourage students to look into ways of how we can create sustainable landscapes in which nature, farming, recreation recreation, traffic, industry, and housing are not locked in a constant battle for space, but instead are mutually enhancing within a single region?

Traffic and logistics issues are extremely important, for example in terms of Gross National Product and prosperity. So what will the ideal traffic network of the future look like to keep cities accessible?