Local Policy Responses to Urban Air Pollution and Ecosystem Stress

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School of Public Policy and Administration, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
Urbanization is proceeding rapidly across the globe. During the 20th century, the urban population grew from approximately 200 million to 2.9 billion worldwide [1]. By 2030, the United Nations predicts cities will be home to another 2 billion residents [2]. Such rapid growth is likely to have widespread consequences for urban ecosystems, which in some places are already stressed due to changes in land cover; air pollution; local, regional, and global climate; water quality and availability; and biodiversity. Yet, few studies have focused specifically on the influence of urbanization on key ecosystem services, such as the provision of clean water and air. As a result, the implications of coming urbanization for local sustainability efforts remain underdeveloped. The goal of this paper is to map ecosystem stress and response strategies with respect to urban air pollution. To this end, the paper briefly summarizes the conceptual linkages between urbanization, air quality, and ecosystem services. The paper next reviews existing research on areas already stressed by air pollution, compiles predictions regarding future urbanization and its likely air quality impacts, and compiles information regarding locally-adopted sustainability strategies to deal with coming air pollution stress. The paper concludes with a summary of current research gaps and an agenda for future research oriented towards local sustainability efforts
Urbanization, Air pollution, Cities, Ecosystem services, Climate change, Public policy