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Science and Technology for Sustainability Program
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Upcoming Events

NELS: Ways Forward in Urban Sustainability - a Vancouver Vignette
December 1, 2015, Washington, DC

View a list of
Sustainability-related meetings at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Recent Events

Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
November 12-13, 2015
Washington, DC

Partnerships, Research, and Innovation for Urban Sustainability:
Confronting Local Sustainability Challenges in a Global Environment 
October 15, 2015

ays to Urban Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities, Meeting 3
July 28-29, 2015


Pathways to Urban Sustainability Workshop: A Focus on the Portland Region  


May 28-29, 2013
Ecotrust Natural Capital Center
The Billy Frank Jr. Conference Center
721 NW 9th Avenue
Portland, Oregon

Link to Workshop Agenda

Project Scope

For more than 40 years, the City of Portland and the Portland Metropolitan Region have been national leaders in urban policies and investments intended to revitalize the central city and adjacent neighborhoods, preserve the environment, improve equity, and make the city more economically competitive and livable. The “Portland brand” has been both emulated as path breaking and discounted as overly idiosyncratic. Among the elements contributing to Portland’s success have been strong public-private partnerships, a culture of planning, and a willingness to implement diverse ideas generated by academics, consultants, companies, and government agencies. Regionally, Portland has benefited from its location in the middle of the progressive Cascadia Corridor, stretching from Vancouver BC to San Francisco. 

Against this vibrant backdrop, this National Research Council Workshop will use examples from Portland and the Northwest US / SW Canada region to explore critical questions about the future of urban sustainability. The meeting will be organized into four sessions over two days. Session 1 will provide background about Portland and Cascadia, emphasizing policy innovations and lessons that are potentially transferable elsewhere. Session 2 will focus on ways to leverage local success through partnerships with state and federal agencies, companies, and non-government organizations, including the possibility of creating one or more interagency and multi-sector National Laboratories that gather, test, and disseminate best urban practices. Session 3 will ask how cutting-edge academic and corporate scientific and engineering research can help cities to become more sustainable. Finally, Session 4 will address the challenging question of how financially strapped cities, with the assistance of private foundations, can become agents for achieving broader societal goals not directly linked to their operational mandates, such as climate change mitigation, energy independence, poverty alleviation, and the preservation of biodiversity.


  • Robert Bennett
    Executive Director, EcoDistricts
  • Susan Anderson
    Director, Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
  • John Cleveland
    President, Innovation Network for Communities
  • Glen T. Daigger
    Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, CH2M Hill, Inc
  • Jonathan H. Fink
    Vice President for Research & Strategic Partnerships, Portland State University
  • Jim Lester
    President, Houston Advanced Research Center
  • Colin Sears
    Vice President of Business Development, Greater Portland, Inc.
  • Lillian M. Shirley
    Director, Multnomah County Health Department


This project is funded by Portland State University.

Contact Information:

Science and Technology for Sustainability
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 334-2047