Cities Under Climate Threat


Name: Edgar Stach, PhD
Position: Director, Institute for Smart & Healthy Cities
Organization: Architecture College of Architecture & the Built Environment, Thomas Jefferson University
Name: Carlo Federico dall'Omo, PhD
Position: Research Facilitator & Research Fellow, Urban Design & Environmental Planning,
Organization: Università Iuav di Venezia
Name: Francesco Musco, PhD
  • Director of Research
  • Coordinator, MS in Urban Planning for Transition
Organization: Università Iuav di Venezia

Understanding the impact of Climate Change on Cities: Policies, Urban Design, Economics, Environment & Population Health

The effects of climate change, urban infrastructure, transportation, and energy, on the health of populations, can no longer be ignored. "Despite the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the establishment of the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, significant gaps remain between the scientific and political communities when it comes to an understanding how climate change risks cascade through environmental, social, and economic systems." [World Economic Forum – Strategic Intelligence, Climate Indicators].

The Smart and Healthy Cities Studio at Thomas Jefferson University developed seven climate indicators to unlock the relationship between climate change and the risks to the built environment, the ecology, and population health. Aspects such as urban planning, technology and innovation, health & quality of life, pollution, safety, mobility, and technology play a crucial role in mediating the adverse effects of climate change. The seven indicators display the complex ways climate change threatens urban environments and shows the immediate necessity for more drastic and immediate climate action. 

Science indicates that climate change cannot be reversed, and new holistic approaches are necessary to mediate and perhaps reverse the adverse effects of climate change. New planning tools, policies, regulations, changes in human behavior, and technological innovations are required to address climate change in every aspect. 

The Smart and Healthy Cities Studio shows the complex interconnection between climate change and the macro – and micro–contextual relationships between factors that have often not been considered. The studio offers how cities can be better prepared for future global crises and transform cities under climate threats into more resilient towns to support a fair city to live, work, and do business.

Mission & Vission

Smart and Healthy Cities Studio has the vision to show the solutions for tomorrow's most pressing problems urbanization, public health, environment, and climate change. The studio is conceived as an aggregator and facilitator of transdisciplinary research and education across multiple disciplines. 

The systems thinking approach will allow for a holistic method of analysis of the effects of climate change on the urban environments and population health. The research will consider the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goal is to increase cities' resiliency to strengthen populations' health, mitigate climate change and support a fair city to live, work, and do business.

  • Understanding the entire city as a system and solving tomorrow's most pressing problems: urbanization, public health, energy, and transportation.
  • Making a direct impact at the community and city scale by researching the intersection of environmental conditions, housing, workplace, transit, public infrastructure, and health.
  • Partnering with other universities to provide students access and support through co-invention.
  • Educate the public about the complex interrelationship of climate change.
  • Provide solutions for climate resilient cities
  • Unlock the connection between climate change, urbanization, and health.


Università Iuav di Venezia

The Università Iuav di Venezia is located in Venice, Italy. The Department of Architecture and Arts and the Planning and Climate Change LAB focus on spatial planning as part of the complex and dynamic relationships between man and nature. The Climate Change Lab concentrates on the effects of climate change on Cities. Especially coastal cities like Venice and Philadelphia experience the dramatic impact of climate change and the increase in extreme weather events. Iuav’s Planning Climate Change Lab focuses on this new challenge for urban and regional planning processes by defining new adequate policies, planning tools, and technologies.

Jefferson’s Institute for Smart & Healthy Cities

Jefferson’s Institute for Smart and Healthy Cities supports transdisciplinary research, education, and innovation to advance the development of the urban environment through collaboration across the architecture, design, engineering, health, and science disciplines. The institutes focus on transforming urban environments into smart and healthy cities in the face of climate change, social inequity, rapid urbanization, and health disparity.