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World Day of Cities: DLR-PT backing communities

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The United Nations has declared the 31st October "World Cities Day". Under the motto "Better City, Better Life", the date has been raising awareness of the opportunities and challenges of sustainable urban development since 2014. In many of its missions, the DLR Project Management Agency (DLR-PT) supports cities and municipalities on this path.

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2nd November 2021 — In 2021, the World Day of Cities is dedicated to climate change. Not only are urban areas strongly affected by it, they are also responsible for a large share of CO2 emissions and energy consumption. Worldwide, including in Germany, the majority of the population now live in cities, where they produce 70 per cent of the greenhouse gas CO2 volume emitted globally. So many starting points can be found to achieve the 1.5 degree target of the Paris Climate Agreement in cities – from individual consumption to construction and mobility. On behalf of various clients, DLR-PT is working to make cities and municipalities strong for the future.

A selection:


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Climate resilience through action in cities and regions
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For a sustainable development of cities and regions, it is important that they become resilient. In addition to damage to infra- and settlement structures caused by extreme weather events such as floods, there is also the threat of health hazards due to increased heat waves. Ecosystem services such as the purification of air and water or recreational areas for people and thus their quality of life will also be impaired by climate change.

With the BMBF funding measure Climate Resilience through Action in Cities and Regions, DLR-PT manages and supports transdisciplinary and demand-oriented research on overcoming regional challenges of climate change. It builds knowledge on concrete options for action and processes as well as on the impact of climate change adaptation measures. Innovative instruments and options for action that take local conditions and needs into account are developed and tested in the funding measure.

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Coordination and Transfer Office Model Projects Smart Cities
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The aim of the 73 Smart Cities model projects currently funded by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI) is to use integrated strategies to test and implement practical solutions for sustainable and community-oriented urban and municipal development. The aim is to put new technologies at the service of citizens and to preserve the qualities of the European city.

The central contact point for the model projects and all municipalities in Germany is the Coordination and Transfer Office (KTS), which involves a consortium of different partners from research, urban development and consultancy under DLR-PT leadership. The KTS supports the model projects and actors on site and networks them with each other and with other municipalities. The aim is to jointly develop innovative solutions for municipal issues of the future and to provide impetus for successful transformation processes.

How digital applications and intelligent systems can help to counter climate change in the sense of sustainable urban development is a central theme of numerous model projects. This is shown by these examples, among others:

The planned heavy rainfall early warning system in Eichenzell will use sensors to detect a dangerous rise in water levels at an early stage and forward it to the authorities (fire brigades, THW, etc.). The town of Bochum wants to become a "city of short distances" and thus save CO2 emissions. In addition to numerous other measures, the municipality relies on a system-wide networking of individual and public means of transport. And the "KlimaStadt" Münster is developing, among other things, a digitally supported education and information offer on the topics of climate protection and renewable energies. Participatory climate measuring stations and climate-adapted new city districts bring climate protection into the urban community.

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Future City and MobilityWorkCity 2025 competition
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The DLR project management organisation pursues an inter- and transdisciplinary approach within the framework of the funding priority Social-Ecological Research: it brings together science and municipalities with citizens and actors from different sectors of society. Together, the aim is to achieve a broadly supported, socially acceptable and scientifically accompanied sustainable transformation.

The Future City Competition, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and managed by DLR-PT since the end of 2020, is a good example of this. In three funding phases, visions were initially developed that led to concrete implementation concepts. The third funding phase, in which eight municipalities (Amt Peenetal/Loitz, Bocholt, Norderstedt, Lüneburg, Ulm, Gelsenkirchen, Dresden and Friedrichstadt) are implementing the concepts within the framework of real laboratories, i.e. testing them on site under scientific supervision, is currently underway. The focal points range from digitalisation to future housing to education for sustainable development. It is important that the results have an impact beyond the funding period and across municipal boundaries, and the communication of the results and implementation steps for sustainable urban development is to provide best-practice examples and enable other cities to achieve sustainable transformation.

A second BMBF funding measure within the framework of social-ecological research is the MobilityWorkCity 2025 competition supervised by DLR-PT as part of the Sustainable Urban Mobility research agenda. In a first phase that has already been completed, around 50 municipalities have developed a wide range of locally oriented concepts and strategies for sustainable mobility. In the recently launched second phase, these will be tested and implemented for three years by selected municipalities together with actors from science and practice in real laboratories. This will be followed by a third phase lasting until 2026 to consolidate the results and findings and transfer them to other municipalities. The funding focuses on participatory solutions and a systemic approach: only the interaction of technologies, urban and infrastructure planning, social behaviour as well as social and individual needs with the inclusion of all relevant actors can lead to a successful and timely transport transition in cities and urban-urban regions.

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Urban nature for more biodiversity
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Nature in the city is more than just green decoration. With street trees and parks, near-natural front gardens, green roofs and façades, it offers diverse habitats, not only for insects and birds. It also makes cities more resilient to climate change and attractive and liveable for people.

With the Urban Nature Master Plan, the Federal Government therefore adopted a programme of measures for more green in cities in 2019. One key aspect of this has been implemented since 2021 with the urban nature funding priority in the Federal Programme on Biological Diversity. The programme office at DLR-PT oversees the funding programme on behalf of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation and supports exemplary projects for more biodiversity in cities and municipalities. The projects are intended to have an impact beyond their region and motivate other actors to promote more ecologically valuable areas in urban spaces.

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Sustainable transport concepts
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Sustainable urban development also requires forward-looking, environmentally friendly mobility concepts. In the funding measure “A future-oriented, sustainable mobility system through automated driving and networking”, run by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), DLR-PT is currently supporting 26 large-scale collaborative projects involving municipalities, companies, universities and research institutions. The BMVI is making around 120 million euros available for this purpose. The focus is on networked transport concepts that enable individual mobility and optimally link it with public transport. The Reallabor Hamburg (RealLabHH) is one of the projects within the framework of this BMVI funding measure. Hamburg citizens can actively participate and experience the mobility of tomorrow today.

For many years, DLR-PT has been supporting its clients with expertise and experience in electromobility and the transport transition. For example, in addition to the BMVI measure mentioned above, the Energy and Mobility department is implementing the ICT for Electromobility funding priority for the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).

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Shaping sustainable municipal education landscapes together
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Technical progress alone is hardly enough to create a sustainable city. The UNESCO-led programme Education for Sustainable Development (ESD 2030), launched in 2020 to support progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also emphasises the key role of education in achieving all 17 SDGs. ESD imparts skills to actively help shape a sustainable world by empowering people to think and act in a way that is fit for the future.

The ESD Coordination Office at DLR-PT supports the BMBF in the implementation and further development of the National ESD Action Plan in order to structurally anchor ESD throughout the German education system. In this broad-based, participatory process, the DLR-PT also accompanies municipalities, which are key actors in sustainable development.

In order to strengthen sustainability at the local level and to shape future-oriented administrative action, the BMBF has been funding the joint project Education – Sustainability – Municipality: ESD Competence Centre for Process Support and Process Evaluation (BiNaKom) since 2020. In this project, 50 model municipalities implement ESD at local level in all processes and structures. By linking and optimising approaches of data-based municipal education management (DKBM) with local offers on ESD, BiNaKom builds on the experiences of the Transfer Initiative for Municipal Education Management, which is also supervised by DLR-PT. The ESF programme Education Municipalities will soon be launched as a further element of the transfer initiative. It aims to support municipalities in the further development of their educational landscape and, for example, to better network analogue and digital educational programmes.

Main and Other Contacts

Contact at DLR Projektträger