Megaregions are critically important urban units that present challenges and opportunities for regional planning, sustainability research, and policy making. Our multidisciplinary research on global megaregions aims to contribute to a more sustainable urban future.
About the Project
The Sustainable Megaregion Research Project is led by a multidisciplinary research team whose objective is to better understand the megaregion as an urban unit. We seek to determine whether or not the megaregion is the appropriate scale at which confront large-scale natural and manmade disasters. This research has been funded by a grant from the Ivan Allen College’s Digital Integrative Liberal Arts Center (DILAC) and a Moving Team Forward Seed Grant from Georgia Tech’s Executive Vice President for Research.
More on Megaregion Sustainability
Megaregions – networks of metropolitan centers linked by proximity, populations, economic interactions, topography and land use patterns, and integration of infrastructure and environmental systems – represent a new stage in the evolution of human habitation from kinship groups to rural hamlets to urban metropolises. It is estimated that by 2050 approximately three-quarters of America’s population and employment growth will occur in just eight to ten megaregions. The Boston-Washington corridor alone already boasts a population of nearly 50 million people and generates economic output exceeded by only six countries in the world (Dewar and Epstein, 2006; Florida 2019). Yet despite their vast resources, megaregions are vulnerable to a variety of threats, and little is known about the requisites for their long-term sustainability.
Is the megaregion the appropriate scale at which to build resilience to natural and manmade disaster? The COVID-19 global pandemic heavily impacted megaregions around the world, but a more persistent menace is posed by natural disasters including coastal and inland flooding, landslides, wildfires, and drought. Almost 40% of the world’s population lives within 100km of the coastline, making them vulnerable to a variety of threats. If stakeholders are to capitalize on an inherent advantage of scale, they must recognize that megaregions are complex, social-ecological infrastructure systems with economies of scale. To ensure their sustainability in the face of a variety of unpredictable threats, steps must be taken to build resilience to protect critical infrastructure for provisioning of food and water, energy, and transportation networks to move people, goods, and medical resources.
This research has been funded by a grant from the Ivan Allen College’s Digital Integrative Liberal Arts Center (DILAC) and a Moving Team Forward Seed Grant from Georgia Tech’s Executive Vice President for Research. We are also grateful for support provided by the Neal Family Endowment and The Sam Nunn School of International Affairs.