Sustainable Urban Futures: Digital Technologies Enabling Circular Economy in Cities

Submission deadline date: 31 May 2024


Cities should play a pivotal role in facilitating a transition towards a Circular Economy (CE). Currently, more than half of the global population resides in urban areas, and this proportion is projected to increase significantly, reaching an estimated 68% by 2050. Cities also wield considerable influence in the global economy, accounting for 85% of global GDP. However, the population residing in cities represents a significant consumer base for resources, with urban dwellers consuming 75% of global natural resources and generating 60-80% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Nevertheless, cities provide a unique set of tools and capabilities that can be harnessed to effect immediate and transformative change, where such localised efforts can generate broader positive impacts on a global scale. Even in the absence of national-level leadership in promoting circularity, individual cities have the capacity to drive action, assuming roles as promoters, facilitators, and enablers of a CE.

It is logical to assert that the inherent position of cities as centres of habitation and economic activity situates them as influential players in promoting circularity. Achieving a comprehensive transition towards circularity in cities necessitates the adoption of a multifaceted approach. Chief among all is focusing on the role of enablers in facilitating a transition towards a CE at a city scale.

Digital technologies, serving as significant enablers, assume a pivotal role in bolstering the efficiency of cities. They provide policymakers, urban managers, and planners with indispensable tools for collecting, monitoring, analysing, and evaluating the circularity of environmental, social, and economic resources. By harnessing digital technologies, cities can effectively develop and implement smart and sustainable initiatives in key domains including mobility, energy, environment, waste management, telecommunications, and security, among others. Despite the significance of exploring the potential of various digital technologies in facilitating a transition to a circular city, research in this area has been limited and preliminary. The application of digital technologies holds immense promise for enabling and enhancing circularity in urban contexts, yet there remains a notable gap in comprehensive and in-depth investigations. This special issue seeks to address this research gap.

This special issue aims to bridge the existing research gap by providing a comprehensive exploration of successful case studies that highlight the adoption of digital technologies as catalysts for transitioning to a CE on a city-wide scale. Through a multidisciplinary approach, this special issue will delve into various sectors and domains, including but not limited to urban planning, resource management, waste reduction, energy efficiency, and sustainable mobility. The objective is to examine how digital technologies can effectively enable and support the transition to a CE by enhancing resource efficiency, promoting sustainable practices, and fostering innovation within urban contexts.

List of topic areas

  • Connecting digital transformation to the circular economy at city scale: Use cases, practical solutions, roadmaps, and recommendations.
  • Facilitating a transition to circularity in cities through open data platforms, mapping of resources and aligning data with material flows; connectivity among devices, data and stakeholders.
  • Integration of open data platforms and blockchain technologies for the creation of circular and decentralised business models.
  • Intelligent, information-based city governance models for connecting city services and operations.
  • Applications of digital twins for the management of circular supply chains and cross-sector collaboration.
  • GIS-based decision support systems for sustainable management of circular supply chains in urban areas.
  • Enhancing the resilience of urban circular supply chains with digital technologies.
  • Promoting social sustainability through digital technologies in circular communities.
  • Exploring the role of digital technologies in enabling the formation of circular communities.
  • Exploring the potential of generative design and AI predictive models for circular design at city scale.
  • Advancing digital technologies for assessing environmental impacts of cities.

Submissions Information

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available here.

Author guidelines must be strictly followed.

Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to "Please select the issue you are submitting to".

Submited articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.

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Key deadlines

Opening date for manuscripts submissions: 1st August, 2023

Closing date for manuscripts submission: 31st May, 2024