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Theme 1 Smart Energy Systems

A reliable energy supply is indispensable for sound urban development. As energy demands are rising in newly industrialising countries, side effects such as environmental pollution, growing CO2 emissions and unequal and limited accessibility to energy supply are becoming challenges for local actors. Thus, sustainable ways for the generation and transmission of energy are key for growing cities. Successful strategies should focus on conservation and efficient use of energy as well as on alternative and decentralised ways for energy production.

What are smart and reliable energy systems in different city contexts? How can they be created? What are the tasks of local stakeholders on their way towards a smart energy system?

Theme 2 Valuable Urban Resources

With both population and consumption rising, the ecological footprints of most metropolises are increasing at high rates. Resource efficiency can improve the situation. In order to make a city resource-efficient, it is essential to establish closed waste, urban water and land cycles.

How to reduce the consumption of big cities and enhance their liveability at the same time? How to plan and manage closed resource cycles? What can we do to valorise waste, improve availability and quality of potable water and how could we best harvest the high potentials of urban agriculture?

Theme 3 Sustainable Urban Planning and Building

It has been widely recognised that cities are both curse and solution to climate change. Most man-made CO2 emissions originate from urban areas. Yet, potentials for mitigation in cities are immense. At the same time, cities must not wait to adapt to climate change effects such as heat waves, flooding and other extreme weather events.

At the local level, mitigation and adaptation serve as two complementary strategies to combat climate change which must go together and should be combined in suitable ways. Spatial planning, building standards and urban management offer innovative solutions to respond to these challenges already.

What are the most promising low carbon city concepts, policies and strategies for a low carbon culture and for resilience in cities? How to reduce risks and vulnerability of urban areas? How do we generate learning structures which can easily respond to change? What are barriers to implementation?

Theme 4 Intelligent Transport for Metropolises

Looking at emissions, air quality, energy and space consumption and health effects, it becomes clear that urban transport is not yet sustainable in most urban areas worldwide. In search for therapy many fast growing cities are aiming at adapting to motorised modes by focussing on more and wider roads and abolishing cycling and walking environments. In the light of climate change and resource efficiency, smart intermodal solutions are needed that improve the effectiveness of the entire urban transport system and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. A wide number of measures have already been implemented, ranging from transport and urban planning approaches, new mobility services to the implementation of entire efficient public transport systems.

How do we best organise a sustainable transport mix in big cities? Will good practice solutions work in other megacities and how can we transfer them? How can cooperation help and what sort of cooperation do we need?

Theme 5 Multi-Level Cooperation and Governance

In some cities, sustainable urban development is already established as a policy field by respective local and regional decision makers and actors. In these cases, strategies on climate change and resource efficiency are high on the agenda, while others are only starting this process.

A powerful governance-structure as well as clear political leadership and administrative competences are important prerequisites for well developing metropolitan areas. For that, a culture of cooperation among local stakeholders and sectors can be a strong driver for agenda setting and implementation. Such processes should incorporate relevant actors from public and private sectors, academia and civil society. Moreover, experience tells us that appropriate participation of citizens is extremely important. When citizens realise that their participation and ownership can make a difference, they often seize action.

How can we govern for sustainable development? What are new successful forms of cooperative governance? How can we better combine top-down strategic and bottom-up implementation activities?

Theme 6 Sustainable Financing

As urbanisation is accelerating, there is currently tremendous demand for investments in urban infrastructure worldwide. Due to additional effects such as climate change and scarcity of resources, future infrastructure networks must be planned anticipatory, adaptable and robust to hazards and changes. The need for today’s investments offers the unique chance for sustainable and leapfrogging solutions that will pay off in the long run.

Only few cities are able to finance the necessary demand independently. Existing financing options are barely out of infancy.

Are the financing mechanisms right for the challenges cities are facing? How can international and national financiers support cities on their way towards sustainable development?