Religious faith is deeply ingrained in the way cities look and function. In the past, cities were often built with places of worship at their centre, and today you can find markers of faith dotted across every city in the world: from local parish churches to grand cathedrals, mosques to synagogues, soup kitchens to cemeteries. Faith also serves a social purpose, bringing city dwellers together to mourn, celebrate, remember, reflect and to help others.
Today, cities are becoming a driving force in global politics. It's predicted that 66% of the world's population will live in urban areas by 2050. And in a warming world, it's more urgent than ever for cities to develop in an efficient and sustainable way.
Yet major discussions about the future of cities largely neglect the topic of faith. The United Nations' New Urban Agenda (NUA) – the main global strategy guiding urban development for the next 20 years – is almost entirely silent about the role of faith and religion in the cities of the future, despite the fact that 84% of the global population adheres to a religious faith of some kind.