Research Group

Urban Sustainability Transformations

Sustainability and climate policy is increasingly being shaped under the impression of drastic disruptive events: Heavy rainfall events and heat waves, but also sudden changes in social and political priorities challenge established institutional procedures and planning processes. Against this background, the Research Group investigates the prerequisites and possibilities of local and regional sustainability and climate policy as well as the sustainable transformation of cities. The focus is on the development, expansion and implementation of strategies in climate, energy and environmental policy. Special interest is given to the possibilities of action of city administrations and city politics in international comparison, institutional change as well as the increasing importance of cities and city networks on an international and European level. In addition, the research group examines the transfer of knowledge between cities or regions and between different policy areas within cities. In this context, it is also investigated whether and how policy experiments and innovations (e.g. real world labs, pilot projects, smart city projects) can be transferred from one city or region to another.

Ongoing Projects

The project examines large-scale projects as profound disruptions that shake the well-rehearsed routines of institutions and can lead to institutional change. The project examines the large-scale project of the Tesla settlement in comparison to other case studies with regard to disruptive effects on policy and planning and thus tests the transferability of the term disruption to policy and planning research. more

ExTrass wants to better equip medium-sized cities and towns in Germany against heat and heavy rain. To achieve this, the project examines the factors that hinder or enable urban climate adaptation and identifies examples of successful measures. One focus of the project will take place in three case study cities - Potsdam, Remscheid and Würzburg – which will test greening initiatives, pursue climate-adapted urban planning, extend datasets related to the urban climate, communicate climate risks to residents, and improve emergency planning. The project will also facilitate networking and knowledge exchange so that cities can learn from each other. more

For several decades, (some) cities have been active in climate policy. Previous research on urban climate policy has mostly focused on internationally well-connected and high-profile larger cities and on a handful of prominent smaller pioneering cities. But what about the cities in the second tier, which, unlike the leaders, usually (have to) work with very limited financial and human resources and without significant political and civil society support? This habilitation project focuses on the widest possible range of cities and explores the question of why climate policy activity emerges in cities and why it does not. more