Over 50% of the world’s population lives in cities and this is expected to rise significantly over the next two decades. 

If not managed properly, increasing urbanisation will result in increasing pressures on city environments which will have knock-on negative effects on health, wellbeing and the economy. 

YESI is bringing together experts in the natural, social and technological sciences and the arts and humanities to better understand the natural, built and cultural environments in cities. 

Over the past three years, YESI has developed a strong portfolio in this area, including the 3.5M CAPACITIE project, a NERC/Arup Global Research Challenges project and an RCUK/Innovate UK project in conjunction with City of York Council to establish York as a unique and world leading city observatory.

Research theme aims

  • Advancing knowledge around the natural, social, and built environments of cities
  • Formulating new ways of living with the pressures of worldwide urbanisation

Key focus areas

  • Pollution assessment – Developing state-of-the-art pollution monitoring technologies to analyse pollution and its effects on human and environmental health to help influence policy.
  • Health and wellbeing – Working with key stakeholders to design environmentally and socially sustainable communities to maximise health and wellbeing.
  • The total environment – Understanding links between the natural, cultural, social and built environments of a city over different times to help predict future issues and influence policy.

Related links

Research theme leader
Prof Alistair Boxall

There are two types of YESI project:

YESI supported project

Funded projects that received support from the YESI office during its development

YESI linked project

Interdisciplinary and cross-departmental projects involving the YESI Theme Leaders and/or close YESI collaborators

YESI supported projects

The York City Environment Observatory (YCEO)

The York City Environment Observatory (YCEO) aims to establish York as an exemplar city for better understanding the links between the quality of the natural, cultural, social and built environments (the ‘total environment’) and the health and wellbeing of citizens and the economy of the city.

Integrating data on health and environment

This project analysed the latest spatially explicit UK health data in order to understand the relationships between multiple environmental exposures and a range of health outcomes, beginning with mental health outcomes.

Mobility and wellbeing

This project investigated the links between mobility and wellbeing amongst older people. The work included a longitudinal study of older people in York, Hexham and Leeds who have experienced transitions affecting mobility and wellbeing.

Sustainable communities

The project aimed to support the development of an environmentally and socially sustainable community at Derwenthorpe through authoritative but rapidly applicable research evidence.

Resource recovery approaches for nanomaterials

This catalyst project synthesised knowledge on the nature and amounts of nanomaterials in waste streams in the 2020s, the potential impacts of these nanomaterials on the health of the environment; and approaches for recovering nanomaterials from different waste types.

YESI linked projects

Pollution assessment (CAPACITIE)

CAPACITIE explored a range of technologies for pollution monitoring, including: mobile phones; passive sampling devices; miniaturised sensing devices; robotics; and state-of-the-art analytical techniques e.g. time of flight mass spectrometry.

Maritime and cultural heritage (PERICLES)

PERICLES promotes sustainable, participatory governance of cultural heritage in European coastal and maritime regions through a unique interdisciplinary and geographically wide-ranging approach.

Air pollution and SDGs in Africa

This project explores the potential for future interdisciplinary research that could support sustainable development and progress towards the SDGs (including an assessment of trade-offs and synergies of interventions in achieving different SDG targets).

Related links

Research theme leader
Prof Alistair Boxall