Completed Projects

Risk Habitat Megacity (RHM)


 Risk Habitat Megacities (RHM)
Santiago de Chile - Risk Habitat Megacity
Video: UFZ / Sebastian Höing.

Urbanization and the continuous growth of Megacities is one the most important global phenomena of today. Megacities are often measured according to their population size. In addition they are characterized by a high dynamic of change and often they are centres of national economies and thus, reflecting a habitat of both enormous chances and risks. In this context, Latin America is upon the most urbanized regions world-wide. The problems and challenges of cities in the region are somehow comparable and often caused by high resource consumption, deficits in access to education and other facilities of basic supply and suffer from bad air quality conditions due to high emissions, also from the transport sector.


Against this background the Risk Habitat Megacity Initiative analyzes potentials for sustainable development in Santiago de Chile and deals with the following topics: Transport, Energy, Socio-Spatial Differentiation, Land Use Management, Air Quality, Waste and Water Treatment. Santiago serves as a "case study" as on the one hand problems as mentioned above are evident in Santiago, too, on the other hand the project counts with a high quality research infrastructure, ensuring a good basis for common research.


After a profound analysis of the current situation in each thematic field, three scenario pathways are developed that set the frame for potential futures in each topic. The objective is to define possible future pathways for the city of Santiago until 2030 and based on that testing the effect of policy measures regarding the aim of improving the city’s sustainability performance. At the same time establishing contact to local stakeholders and decision-makers in politics and planning is a further goal, integrating them into the process of defining the potential future pathways and assuring the transfer of project results into practice.


In the thematic field "Transport", the DLR Institute of Transport Research cooperates with researchers from the Division of Transport Engineering at the University of Chile in Santiago. The analysis is realized making use of analytical models of land use and transport. Respectively, the required data sets (e.g. Population, Households, Networks for private and public transport) for a base year 2010 and the three scenarios in 2030 are developed and a set of policy packages defined according to the assumptions of each scenario. The application of the transport and land use models allows – given the necessary assumptions for the developments of demography and economy up to 2030 – the quantification of transport indicators that are used to describe the future performance of the urban transport system in Santiago. For each scenario, values for motorization, congestion levels, accessibility, modal split and transport related emissions are estimated. In addition the prediction of the propulsion technology development both in passenger and freight transport is required to quantify the effect of expectable improvements on air quality.


Despite the tendencies of further increase especially of the motorized vehicle fleet, the results show that a reduction of NOx-emissions of up to 60% is possible until 2030. However, this implies the introduction of demanding norms for vehicle’s emission standards. At the same time the increased – but cleaner – fleet results in even higher congestion levels than already observed today. This leads, although we assumed some remarkable expansion of the road infrastructure as well, to lower accessibility levels and a further decrease of average travel times in 2030.

The project finished with an International Stakeholder Conference held in Santiago de Chile at the end of October 2010 where main findings were discussed with stakeholders. In addition the project counted with a Young Researchers Programme including 22 PhD candidates from all fields of applications both from Chile and Germany. A short summary of the most important results of the transport sector as well as in all other topics the project dealt with are documented in the leaflet.

Contracting entity

  • Helmholtz Association


  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
  • German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ)
  • Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
  • Universidad de Chile (UCH)
  • Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC)
  • Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (PUCV)
  • Universidad Alberto Hurtado (UAH)
  • Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC/CEPAL)

Project duration

From 07/2007 to 06/2010

Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Dirk Heinrichs
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Institute of Transport Research
, Mobility and Urban Development
Tel: +49 30 67055-196

Fax: +49 30 67055-283

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Synthesis report of the Risk Habitat Megacity research initiative (2007 – 2011) (
Informe de la iniciativa de investigación Risk Habitat Megacity (2007 – 2011) (