Professor Xuemei Bai is one of the most active global thought leaders in urban sustainability research, working across scales and tackling both theoretical and applied challenges with a focus on urban development in East Asia. Her pioneering inter- and trans-disciplinary research focuses on understanding the complexity of the social, ecological and economic drivers and impacts of urbanization, and the science and policy of urban sustainability transitions. She and co-authors introduced the concept of urban sustainability experiments – novel practices with significant potential to change the status quo. Most of Professor Bai’s research has clear policy implications, spanning from identifying and testing local solutions to addressing broader national and global policy challenges. Direct impacts of her research include the proliferation of solar energy use in Rizhao City, as well as the development of sustainable urbanization strategies in the western region of China and the regeneration of forests using native tree species at mining sites in Japan. She has contributed to regional and international science initiatives including the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, IPCC and Future Earth, in particular leading the development of the Urban-Knowledge Action Network.
Professor Bai’s work is an outstanding example of the application of research to policy and practice. She is a most deserving recipient of the Volvo Environment Prize in 2018.