City of the Future

Cities are the challenge of the future. Today, more humans live in urban than in rural regions. The German Federal Ministry supports the development of modern concepts that make our cities more sustainable.

More diverse: What does demographic change mean for our cities? © thinkstock

In order to secure the sustainable development of cities and rural communities, experts from local authorities, research, businesses and civil society launched in 2013 the National Platform City of the Future. The initiative is headed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Federal Environment Ministry under the participation of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. Under the City of the Future initiative, local communities, businesses, civil society representatives and the scientific community cooperate with one another in order to implement processes and recommendations for action.

The Platform’s main research focus lies in the areas of urban energy, resource efficiency and the transition to flexible infrastructure systems, e.g. water and wastewater disposal. It also focuses on climate change adaptation and resilience, transformation management and governance research as well as on urban systems from a social and cultural studies perspective.

Adjusting to Demographic Change

The German population is becoming older, more colourful and falling in numbers. There are key patterns of demographic change. Depending on the region, this development can be very different. Rural regions are losing inhabitants, while several cities and other regions are experiencing a large surplus in population growth.

The Federal Ministry has dedicated its efforts to addressing demographic change at the regional level while providing a sustainable economy and ensuring sustainable land and resource use. By strengthening cooperation between local authorities, research, business and civil society, the funding measure “Innovative Communities” (Kommunen innovativ) provides new impetus for the future of rural regions in Germany.

A growing global urban population

Urban development processes must be considered at the global scale. In its 5th Assessment Report published in 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC) states that efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in urban areas are key international climate and energy policy measures. As economies of scales, the size, infrastructure, consumer behaviour, strategic planning and cross-sectoral policy instruments in cities can be coordinated more efficiently.

As the population in late urban regions is growing much more rapidly than the infrastructure, cities are faced with large logistical and financial challenges. They must provide adequate living-conditions for millions of people through sustainable measures and investments.

Building on the experience with developing and newly industrialising countries under the “Future Megacities” initiative, BMBF takes concrete measures to secure sustainable urban and regional development. In cooperation with local stakeholders, meaning decision-makers, societal groups and scientists alike, the projects work on implementing research results for a sustainable and climate-adapted urban development worldwide.