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UNIT #5 Adaptation Strategies of German Cities

How German cities are preparing for adaptation to climate change

This course unit examines different adaptation strategies applied by German cities in order to reduce the negative impact of various manifestations of climate change, such as floods, heat waves and droughts. Policies, instruments, and means and activities to incorporate adaptation needs into urban planning and development are described here.

1) Welcome length: 6 min

In the WELCOME session, GIZ, Markus Delfs, Head of Cluster Sustainable Transition, and Cao Handuo, Technical Advisor, GIZ Beijing, introduce the contextual background. Dr. Daniel Krahl delivers a welcome message by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

The INTRODUCTION SESSION explains the overall course approach and its elements. It also contains a Thematic Course Introduction key note that provides background information and summarises training messages. Both are provided by the lead training advisor and course host, Monika Zimmermann.

3) Thematic City Video Length: 18 min

The THEMATIC CITY VIDEOS are an informational and inspirational form of knowledge input based on the voices of experts and illustrated by various projects. With its mission to illustrate the key aspects of adapting urban areas to climate change, the THEMATIC CITY VIDEO depicts the broad range of adaptation measures with examples from Hamburg and Berlin. A handout with project profiles offers additional technical information.

A handout with project profiles offers additional technical information.

See underlined download link below. 

Guiding expert: 

Prof. Dr Angela Million, Professor of Urban Design and Urban Development, Technical University of Berlin; Managing Director of the Institute for Urban and Regional Planning; Adjunct Professor, School of Planning Design and Construction, Michigan State University, USA

HafenCity Hamburg

As a harbour city connected to the North Sea, Hamburg must be prepared for rising sea levels and storm surges. To address these issues, the city has developed an adaptation strategy that focuses on modern concepts for flood prevention. 

Hamburg: In order to tackle another growing problem, urban flooding caused by heavy rainfall, Hamburg has developed its very own Rain Infrastructure Adaptation Programme (RISA).

One of the first cities to adopt the sponge city approach, Hamburg boasts green roof and green facade programmes. The city is also engaged in ‘Blue Green Streets’activities, and in an international project involving nature-based solutions – CLEVER Cities. A model in the search for new technical and organisational approaches, CLEVER Cities cooperates with various municipalities.

Interviewees: Prof. Antje Stokman, Professor for Architecture and Landscape, HafenCity University Hamburg 

Karen Pein, Managing Director, IBA Hamburg 

Potsdamer Platz, Berlin

Redesigned in the early 2000s, this square at the heart of the German capital is perfectly equipped to deal with current challenges thanks to a progressive water management system, large retention surfaces and green roofs. The scale of the rainwater system, the square’s prominent inner-city location and its unification of environmental, aesthetic and civil-engineering factors make it unique.

Street trees: Lining the streets of most major cities, trees are vital in terms of cooling, providing shade, filtering the air and generally improving the quality of city life. This segment focuses on the street trees of Berlin.

Interviewee: Prof. Dr Angela Million, Professor for Urban Design, Technical University of Berlin 

ZUsammenKUNFT Berlin eG, House of Statistics

4) City Walk Video Length: 7 min

City Walk Videos offer an immersive city experience related to the course topics. 

The ‘Garden‘ City Walk takes place on the green rooftop gardens of the Hamburg Department for Environment, Climate, Energy and Agribusiness, the DZ HYP AG Hamburg, and the Fachverband Garten-, Landschaft- und Sportplatzbau Hamburg e.V. Considered a city of rooftop gardens, Hamburg is a textbook example of how to avoid sealed surfaces. In combination with parks, rooftop gardens allow urban nature to unfold and residents to appreciate it on a daily basis.

5) Expert Talks Length: 90 min

The EXPERT TALKS session provides the opportunity to acquire a deeper understanding of the course content. The expert talks – all recorded in April and May 2021 – include PPT-supported lectures and interviews. The session also includes two thematically related webinars from another SGUP course from 2020.

Simone Raskob, Vice Mayor, Environment, Mobility and Sports, City of Essen

Michael Leischner, Head of the Department for Climate Protection, Air Control and Noise Reduction, City of Dortmund

Justus A. Quanz, Ministry of Environment, Climate, Energy and Agriculture, Hamburg

Agnes Schönfelder

6) Transfer & Application length: 30-45 min

This element includes questions for participants to help them review and evaluate the information provided so far.  consider takeaways and reflect on possible transferability.The questionnaire can be completed individually or as part of guided teamwork.

7) Further Resources length: 20-45 min

This compilation of background information, studies, reports, websites, videos, etc. lets participants find out more about selected themes related to the course topic. Whenever available, materials are provided in English – otherwise in German. Some sources are also in Chinese. The Project Profiles (see above), as well as a few other key documents, are included in full.