The Next Economy
Nat Geo, United Technologies Launch 'Urban Expeditions' Exploring Sustainability in Cities

Every day, 180,000 people move to urban areas. Urbanization is creating an urgent need for sustainable actions and solutions. At this critical time, National Geographic and United Technologies Corp. are collaborating to raise awareness of sustainable urbanization through the Urban Expeditions initiative.

Urban Expeditions will identify cutting-edge research and exploration projects that are leading the way in sustainable urbanization in three key areas:

  • Food
  • Buildings
  • Transportation

From architecture to engineering and urban agriculture, the project will shine the light on key sustainability issues and introduce viewers to change agents from a variety of disciplines doing great work around the globe.

"This historic migration of people to cities can be achieved sustainably if we think differently about buildings, food and transportation networks," said John Mandyck, Chief Sustainability Officer at United Technologies. "Urban Expeditions will showcase the global opportunities for cities to advance more sustainably."

Six Cities… Countless Inspiring Stories

Compelling analysis of these challenges and possible solutions will be featured in a new National Geographic digital storytelling series that takes a deep dive into six global cities, beginning with Austin, Texas, in October 2016. The initiative will then convene four global stakeholder events, each featuring a cross-disciplinary group of experts and stakeholders, exploring the future of cities and global sustainable urbanization solutions.

"National Geographic has a long history of investing in bold people working to better understand the world around us and to develop solutions to our most pressing challenges," said Brooke Runnette, Chief Program and Impact Officer at National Geographic Society. "The issues around rapid urbanization are only getting more complex, and the Urban Expeditions project allows us to continue to support and explore projects that will be instrumental to solving them."

National Geographic has devoted considerable coverage to the impact of population growth. In 2011, a series called Seven Billion served as an inventory of our times across issues such as demographics, food security, climate change, fertility trends and biodiversity as the world's population reached seven billion. In 2014, a collection of articles, Feeding Nine Billion, examined how we can provide food for all as the global population expands and climate change impacts agriculture. Urban Expeditions is the next installment.

Other recent National Geographic work to highlight sustainability issues includes “One Strange Rock,” an event series with director Darren Aronofsky that explores the conditions that make Earth the only planet known to sustain life; For the Love of Fashion, a 60-min documentary made in collaboration with C&A, and activist/filmmaker Alexandra Cousteau about the need for more organic cotton; and Care About the Ocean? Think Twice About Your Coffee Lid, a short film highlighting the devastating effect of plastic waste on the Sargasso Sea.

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