Geoscience for cities: Delivering Europe’s sustainable urban future

Stephanie Bricker, Jan Jelenek, Peter van der Keur, Francesco La Vigna, Sophie O’Connor, Grzegorz Ryzynski, Martin Smith, Jeroen Schokker, Guri Venvik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


European Union (EU) policy is clear in its ambition to deliver a sustainable urban future for Europe. In this paper, we consider the role of urban geoscience to help achieve these ambitions. We highlight the relevance of geology to urban subsurface planning and wider EU policy and strategy. Despite the lack of explicit mention of urban underground space in key policy documents, we identify a significant number of priority urban issues for which geological characterisation is a pre-requisite and for which the geological system forms part of the solution, such as mitigation of climate impacts, delivering net zero energy, and implementing nature-based solutions. We reflect on the paradigm shift of urban geoscience as a geological discipline, rooted initially in engineering geology but which has moved towards an interdisciplinary, solution-focused science operating at the inter-section of environmental–social–built systems. In this regard, we highlight cutting-edge urban geoscience research aligned to current urban challenges and note, in particular, the significance of digital technologies to enable 3D urban characterisation, support data-driven decision-making for planning and development, and serve as a means to communicate geology to urban practitioners. The role of the urban geoscientist as an agent of change to enhance integrated science, improve the accessibility of geological issues, and accelerate the translation of national–regional geology to local settings and to urban policy drivers should not be underestimated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2559
Number of pages21
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • cities
  • geo-data
  • geohazards
  • natural resources
  • planning policy
  • subsurface
  • urban geoscience

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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