Our first New Lens Scenarios supplement looked at 500 cities around the world to explore how individual cities could evolve more sustainably.

Urban populations are growing and around three out of every four of us will live in cities by 2050. As cities expand, pressure on vital resources of energy, water and food increases. Across the world there are big differences in the way cities are built and run, how inhabitants move around and how they use energy. It is vital to understand more about these differences in order to make the right choices for building sustainable cities.

“I suspect that one day historians will describe the 100 years to 2050 as the century of the city.”

Jeremy Bentham, Head of Shell Scenarios

Research into 500 cities by Strategy&, supported by Shell, showed that cities can be grouped into six categories, or city archetypes. We analysed the six city archetypes to better understand the changing world and help create scenarios about how individual cities could evolve and become more efficient. We also examined how cities have coped with major development challenges in the past.

For example, faced with high levels of poverty and unemployment in the 1960s, Singapore has since evolved into one of the world’s most prosperous cities through smart urban planning and investment in public transport.

In New Lenses on Future Cities, we have identified several ways in which city leaders can help make the urbanisation process more sustainable. Effective planning to reduce the need to travel around cities, together with efficient public transport for when it is unavoidable, can make a big difference. Wider use of electric, hydrogen or natural gas-driven vehicles also makes a major contribution to sustainability, as does switching from coal- to gas-fired power generation.

We have also co-produced two in-depth city reports – for Marikina in the Philippines, and Surat in India – which focus on ways these cities might increase resilience in the face of challenges.

Download our supplement and in-depth city reports and discover how we might make our cities more efficient, appealing places to live.

Download our Cities Supplement and Reports

New Lenses on Future Cities

New Lenses on Future Cities

The Shell Scenarios team, using research into 500 cities by Strategy&, looked at how cities will evolve this century, and the challenges they will face to be liveable, sustainable and competitive. Their work features in the supplement New Lenses on Future Cities to accompany Shell’s New Lens Scenarios.

Download New Lenses on Future Cities






Study on Marikina City

Challenges and Opportunities for Marikina City 

A city resilience study co-produced by the Shell Scenarios team examines how Marikina City, part of the Manila metropolitan area in the Philippines with a population of around 12 million, could achieve its aspiration to grow more sustainably.

Marikina is prone to flooding, due to monsoon rains swelling the rivers that run through the city. It suffered a major flood in 2012. The study suggests developing green recreation spaces to help absorb heavy rains during tropical storms.

Download the study: Challenges and Opportunities for Marikina City

Read the story: Supporting City Resilience in the Philippines

Study on Surat City

Challenges and Opportunities for Surat City 

The second city resilience report co-authored by the Shell Scenarios team explores how the fast-growing Indian city of Surat could develop smart infrastructure to strengthen local services and energy supplies. 

The city, which  had a population of 4.6 million in the 2011 census, is experiencing rapid industrialisation and migration. It is also one of the world’s most climate change-affected cities, according to World Bank Sustainable Development Network, and has experienced 23 floods in the past century.

Download the study: Challenges and Opportunities for Surat City

Read the story: Helping Surat achieve greater resilience 


Peaceful streets or buzzing blocks? Take the Future Cities quiz

Peaceful streets or buzzing blocks?

House or High-rise? Take the Future Cities quiz and match yourself to a global city!

Take the Future Cities quiz

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New lenses on the future

Our New Lens Scenarios explore two possible ways the 21st century could unfold, with dramatically different implications for society and energy. 

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