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Exploring urban metabolism—Towards an interdisciplinary perspective


Diana Urge-Vorsatz

Patricia L. Mokhtarian


Martin Dijst

Ernst Worrell


Paul Brunner

Simin Davoudi

Albert Holtslag

Stan Geertman

Robert Harmsen

Marco Helbich

Mei Po Kwan

Patricia Mokhtarian

Barbara Lenz

Peter Newman

Jesus Rosales Carreon

Adriaan Perrels



Giles Thomson

Marianne Zeyringer


© 2017 The Author(s) The discussion on urban metabolism has been long dominated by natural scientists focussing on natural forces shaping the energy and material flows in urban systems. However, in the anthropocene human forces such as industrialization and urbanization are mobilizing people, goods and information at an increasing pace and as such have a large impact on urban energy and material flows. In this white paper, we develop a combined natural and social science perspective on urban metabolism. More specifically, innovative conceptual and methodological interdisciplinary approaches are identified and discussed to enhance the understanding of the forces that shape urban metabolism, and how these forces affect urban living and the environment. A challenging research agenda on urban metabolism is also presented.


Urge-Vorsatz, D., Rosales Carreón, J., Mokhtarian, P. L., Dijst, M., Worrell, E., Böcker, L., …Zeyringer, M. (2018). Exploring urban metabolism—Towards an interdisciplinary perspective. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 132, 190-203.

Journal Article Type Editorial
Acceptance Date Sep 12, 2017
Online Publication Date Oct 27, 2017
Publication Date May 1, 2018
Journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling
Print ISSN 0921-3449
Electronic ISSN 1879-0658
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 132
Pages 190-203
Keywords urban metabolism, interdisciplinary approach, research agenda, white paper
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : Acknowledgements section of paper: The foundation for this paper was laid by the discussion among all authors within the weeklong workshop “Towards an Integrated Perspective on Urban Metabolism” (TIPUM). The workshop was held in November 2014 at the NIAS-Lorentz Center at Leiden, The Netherlands. We are thankful for the opportunity to hold this workshop at the center, and the support that made a focused and truly open minded workshop possible. We especially thank Ikram Cakir for her support throughout the week. We also thank Utrecht University (Faculty of Geosciences) and the Lorentz Center for making this workshop financially possible.


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