Risk Habitat Megacity - Strategies for Sustainable Development in Megacities and Urban Agglomerations

Funding Organisation: A Helmholtz-Programme Initiative 2005 - 2013


Duration: 1. projekt phase 2007 - 2010 (completed)

Contact: Dr. Sonja Simon


Project homepage at UFZ

Urbanization, as a social phenomenon and the physical transformation of landscapes, is currently one of the most dramatic global changes. While currently more than half of the population is living in urban centres, the UN estimates that about 90% of future growth will take place in cities. Urbanization, particularly in mega-urban regions and metropolises, anticipates trends with regional and global consequences still difficult to predict.

What risks, but also what opportunities, are associated with this trend towards mega-urbanization? How can we predict and describe the transformation of the complex risk habitat megacity? What strategies can steer the urban system towards sustainable development? What institutional and organizational preconditions need to be in place for their effective implementation?

These questions are the focus of a new research initiative, in which scientists from currently five research centres of the Helmholtz Association and their partner organizations from Latin America seek to generate orientation and decision-making knowledge.

The research adopts governance, risk and sustainable development concepts as the cross-cutting research themes and integrating framework. It applies all three themes to a set of megacity-typical problem areas such as socio-spatial polarization, deficits in water supply, air pollution and its associated health risks, land use conflicts, and energy supply. Based on an interdisciplinary analysis, the initiative aims to provide strategies for sustainable urban development by overcoming the ecological, social and economic risks of mega-urbanization.

The research initiative starts with Santiago de Chile as anchor city. With the establishment of a Centre for Sustainable Urban Development, the location will serve as a platform for the coordination of research and dissemination of results.

The department Systems Analysis and Technology Assessment of the German Aerospace Center is dealing with research questions in the project concerning the energy system.

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