Today, over half of the world’s population live in rapidly expanding cities. The cities of tomorrow face immense challenges to provide ever-greater numbers of people with living space, to maintain functioning infrastructures, and to provide a liveable environment. Moreover, future cities will be asked to fulfil the perceptions of a sustainable and carbon-neutral urban setting that enables societal cohesion among all population groups and that protects the environment and promises prosperity.
At the DLR Project Management Agency, we have, for many years now, supported research projects addressing the issues of how sustainable urban development can function under these conditions. The research priority ‘Future Megacities in Action’ developed and tested energy- and climate-efficient structures in centres of urban growth situated in developing countries and emerging markets. The results are currently being collated within the ‘Rapid Planning’ associative project, where they will be translated into planning methods that are quick to implement and that take effect across a number of sectors.
We contribute to the development of the FONA flagship initiative ‘Future City’ in response to the ‘Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda’ (FINA) by the ‘National Platform Future City’. We manage the contributions to this flagship initiative on climate-adapted cities through, for instance, the launch of the ‘Urban Climates in Transformation’ funding measure, which aims to develop an innovative urban climate model. The ‘Sustainable Transformation of Urban Spaces’ funding measure is preparing proposals for the sustainable design and development of cities. Moreover, a funding measure on ‘Climate Action in Cities and Regions’ is currently in preparation. The focus of these transdisciplinary research projects will be to incorporate current climate knowledge within concrete decision-making processes and to advocate climate adaptation and climate protection in cities and municipalities.
Growth in the world’s population and repercussions of the global markets, due for instance to higher prices for agricultural products, are causing human beings to settle in ever larger areas. As a result, productive land is becoming scarce, expensive, and a growing source of conflict. In terms of productive land, food production stands in global competition with the cultivation of regenerative energy sources. Frequent land use overtaxes the soil, which in turn endangers the ecosystem once more. Finally, climate change is increasingly changing important parameters such as rainfall patterns or temperature distribution, exerting additional stress on agricultural land and ecosystems alike. The form of land use, after all, determines its contribution to climate protection, for instance through the absorption and binding of gases that affect the climate. It follows, therefore, that sustainable land use must be adapted to suit climate change and must also consider the requirements of climate protection to preserve land as a valuable resource.
The DLR Project Management Agency supports research projects on the interactions between land management, climate change, and ecosystem capabilities within the ‘Sustainable Land Management’ funding measure. It aims to prevent the loss of biodiversity, desertification, soil degradation, and the excessive release of CO2. At the same time, food supplies and other functions provided by the land must be guaranteed within the requirements of climate change and globalised markets. These problems are particularly pressing in developing countries and emerging markets, which is why this area of research focusses on these regions.