Robert McDonald is a Senior Scientist for Urban Sustainability at The Nature Conservancy. He researches the impacts and dependences of cities on the natural world, and is the lead scientist for much of the Conservancy’s urban conservation work. He is currently leading a global team of scientists mapping where the cities of the world get their water, and evaluating their dependence on ecosystem services and their vulnerability to climate change. He is also working on a book, Conservation for Cities, which documents the role green infrastructure can play to the well-being of urban residents. Another major research interest is the effect of U.S. energy policy on natural habitat and water use. Prior to joining the Conservancy, McDonald was a Smith Conservation Biology Fellow and professor at Harvard University.

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A recent global assessment by hundreds of scientists, the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook (CBO) examined how the coming massive global urban growth will interact with the natural world.1 By 2030, there will be almost 2 billion new urban residents, and this rapid urban growth has significant implications for the fate of human society and the …

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