Implementing research for sustainability and resilience – that is the core task of the SURE funding priority. Within the framework of SURE, ten collaborative projects develop locally implementable solution strategies for the sustainable use of resources and an improved quality of life in urban regions in Southeast Asia and China. The focus thereby lies on the development and testing of concepts for a sustainable transformation of fast-growing urban regions. The concepts lead both to the strengthening of ecological factors and to greater resilience in face of natural disasters and other consequences of climate change. In particular, the permanent implementation of solutions on site and their transferability to other urban regions in Southeast Asia and China is an important concern of the SURE collaborative projects.
SURE addresses the challenges posed by the intertwining of urbanisation, the overuse of natural resources and climate change. 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050 – currently, more than 50 percent already does. The urbanisation dynamic continues unabatedly, especially in developing and emerging countries. The pace of growth, the densification of the population and the use of resources are historically unique, ushering the 21st century in the »urban millennium«. In this context, urbanisation must not only be seen as a problem, as cities may also be part of the solution. On the one hand, they are drivers of climate change. On the other hand, they are most vulnerable to rising global temperatures, rising sea levels, the increasing accumulation of extreme weather events and the climate-induced spread of tropical diseases. It is therefore crucial to understand cities as a central part of the solution to climate change, while making them more resilient to its impacts.
This is where the SURE collaborative projects come in and take action to enhance sustainable urban and regional developments. The projects demonstrate their innovation potential for a climate-friendly and people-oriented future by
developing technological and nature-based solutions to reduce greenhouse gases and improve resource efficiency in urban areas, for industries, households and public transport,
developing novel concepts for integrated planning in climate-adapted architecture, for sustainable mobility and resilient infrastructure systems,
designing social innovations in the community sector for dealing with changed ecological and economic living conditions,
providing decision makers in politics and administration with knowledge for action on sustainable urban development and a correspondingly efficient public infrastructure,
creating knowledge bases and digital tools for prudent risk management of extreme weather events and natural disasters,
providing information on the conditions under which successful models can be generalised and transferred to the specific problems of other urban regions.
The SURE funding priority creates basic conditions for actors to operate energy-efficiently, close material cycles and balance ecosystem services in order to ensure a permanent implementation. SURE shows that sustainability-oriented urbanisation and competitive, environmentally compatible and socially integrated development can go hand in hand.
In order to adequately address the complexity of these tasks, the SURE projects are set up in an interdisciplinary as well as transdisciplinary way. The project teams demonstrate their interdisciplinary competence by integrating research branches such as urban planning and architecture, engineering and computer sciences, ecology and geography as well as sociology and ethnology. In addition to the exchange of relevant scientific disciplines, it is equally important for the SURE projects to establish dialogue between science and the different actors from practice. This is already laid out in the research design: Members from research, government, administration, private sector, public institutions and civil society work closely together for a sustainable future. This cooperation and participation of Asian decision makers and managers leads to the development of suitable and effective concepts and instruments. In this way, solutions are set in motion that have a high level of acceptance and feasibility in practice as well as a considerable transfer potential.
The majority of SURE research projects maintain project offices on site for local efficacy and the coordination of activities. The monitoring and evaluation of the effects of the implemented measures complete the activities and ensure the implementation of innovative, transferable solutions.