Urbanization is a global phenomenon that has transformed and continues to alter landscapes and the ways in which societies function and develop. For this issue of UGEC Viewpoints, the editors collected case-studies presented at the Open Meeting that span across regions and themes: from Australia and the United States, as well as the less developed nations in Africa, megacities of Asia such as Dhaka, Bangladesh and Delhi, India, vulnerable coastal areas of the Yucatan Peninsula, and the largest rainforest in the world, the Brazilian Amazon. Currently, more than half of the world's population lives in cities; the United Nations projects that by 2030 the world will advance to the 60% urbanization threshold. Rapid urbanization effects will not only be present within the immediate locations (cities and their metropolitan areas), but will be experienced regionally and globally. The UGEC project seeks to better understand these implications and the complex dynamic systems of urban areas that affect and are affected by global environmental change (e.g., climate change, natural disasters, loss of biodiversity, freshwater ecosystem decline, desertification, and land degradation). Several commonalities are readily identifiable in the authors' research, some of which include an attention to the roles of the governance structures within cities; the functioning of ecosystem services, water, food, and sanitation service provision; as well as the role of research in assisting the successful development of sustainable urban plans and policies.