The members of the inter- and transdisciplinary funding priority »Sustainable Development of Urban Regions« publish their research results in various types of publication, that are appropriate for the respective research and implementation.


The members of the inter- and transdisciplinary funding priority »Sustainable Development of Urban Regions« publish their research results in various types of publication, that are appropriate for the respective research and implementation. In addition, the funding priority itself issues different formats of publication in which the international researchers of SURE publish their results.

A chronologically ordered selection of SURE related publications can be found here. If you are interested in a comprehensive list, please visit the individual websites of the SURE collaborative projects!

Living with Water

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Living With Water examines current issues at the intersection of urban planning, urban water management and various key sectors and provides a comprehensive perspective on integrative approaches through the case studies presented. The articles in the Living With Water issue are based on experiences from cities around the world and provide an important link between the theoretical framework and local practice.

The Effects of Urban Heat Island in Phnom Penh: A Case

The Effects of Urban Heat Island in Phnom Penh A Case

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, is one of the most rapidly urbanizing cities in the world, and this urbanization is driving an increase in the urban heat island (UHI) effect. The UHI effect is the experience of urban areas getting higher temperatures than rural areas due to the concentration of heat-absorbing materials such as concrete and asphalt. This study analyzed air temperature, wind speed and direction data from Phnom Penh in 2021 to investigate the UHI effect and its impact on human thermal discomfort. The study found that the UHI intensity is stronger in the central business district (CBD) of Khan Boeung Keng Kang than in the suburban district of Khan Pou Senchey. This is likely due to the higher built-up area and lower wind speed in Khan Boeung Keng Kang. The study also found that the UHI intensity is stronger during the dry season than during the wet season. This is likely due to the lower humidity during the dry season, which allows surfaces to absorb and retain more heat. The increased UHI intensity in Phnom Penh can create significant human thermal discomfort, especially during the daytime. This discomfort can lead to a variety of health problems, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. The study concludes that it is important to take steps to mitigate the UHI effect in Phnom Penh and other rapidly urbanizing cities. This could include measures such as increasing green space, using lighter-colored building materials, and promoting sustainable transportation options. The results of this study can enhance more understanding of the UHI effects and have practical implications on the appropriate UHI-related mitigation and adaptation measures.

Spatiotemporal Analysis of Land Surface Temperature in Response to Land Use and Land Cover Changes: A Remote Sensing Approach

Rapid urbanisation in the global south has often introduced substantial and rapid uncontrolled
Land Use and Land Cover (LULC) changes, considerably affecting the Land Surface
Temperature (LST) patterns. Understanding the relationship between LULC changes and LST is
essential to mitigate such effects, considering the urban heat island (UHI). This study aims to elucidate
the spatiotemporal variations and alterations of LST in urban areas compared to LULC changes.
The study focused on a peripheral urban area of Phnom Penh (Cambodia) undergoing rapid urban
development. Using Landsat images from 2000 to 2021, the analysis employed an exploratory
time-series analysis of LST. The study revealed a noticeable variability in LST (20 to 69 ◦C), which
was predominantly influenced by seasonal variability and LULC changes. The study also provided
insights into how LST varies within different LULC at the exact spatial locations. These changes
in LST did not manifest uniformly but displayed site-specific responses to LULC changes. This
study accounts for changing land surfaces’ complex physical energy interaction over time. The
methodology offers a replicable model for other similarly structured, rapidly urbanised regions
utilising novel semi-automatic processing of LST from Landsat images, potentially inspiring future
research in various urban planning and monitoring contexts.

Urban transition interventions in the Global South: Creating empowering environments in disempowering contexts?

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Changing power relations and the empowerment of frontrunners are considered crucial preconditions for sustainability transitions. This paper looks into the empowerment of actors in the context of a transition intervention in the Global South. We argue that empowerment is of particular importance in contexts of the Global South or those with illiberal characteristics.

  • A holistic understanding of empowerment is needed to improve transition governance instruments in heterogeneous institutional environments. Therefore, we introduce a multi-dimensional empowerment framework that integrates empowerment effects in terms of resources, willingness and social capital and apply it to an ongoing transition intervention in the building sector of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We hereby explore in which ways and to what degree an urban transition governance intervention can contribute to the empowerment of frontrunners in the Global South. Our results indicate that empowerment effects were particularly noticeable in the social capital and willingness dimensions. While mental resources were expanded, a lack of financial means persisted. The study highlights the need to stronger engage with resource-related empowerment as well as the need for transition studies to develop interventions that succeed in balancing the creation of empowering safe spaces and the selective integration of state actors in illiberal contexts in the Global South and elsewhere. Finally, it also demonstrates that the application of a multi-dimensional empowerment framework supports a differentiated analysis of transition interventions, much needed given the complexities of the construction sector in the Global South.
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Towards a Sustainable and Water-Sensitive Krong Kratié, Cambodia – Baseline Assessment: Findings and Strategy Development

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This baseline study meets the need of national and local governments to enhance their decision-making capacity and information resources. It provides a comprehensive assessment of the challenges and opportunities for sustainable water management in Krong Kratié’s urban development.

Challenges include:

  • Urban Transformation: Krong Kratié’s urban role redefinition amid rapid economic and social changes in Cambodia.
  • Complex Water Needs: Challenges in meeting water-related basic needs due to dynamic urbanization and climate change.
  • Limited Urban Planning: Insufficient focus on water-sensitive parameters in urban planning.
  • Infrastructure Gaps: Lack of comprehensive infrastructure, including water supply, drainage, sewage, waste management, and green spaces.
  • Sewage Issues: Concerns about deficient sewage management and its impact on health and the environment.
  • Green Space Shortage: Insufficient green public spaces contributing to urban heat islands and environmental degradation.
  • Underused Wetlands: The unrecognized value of wetlands for sustainable urbanization, infrastructure, and livelihoods.
  • Community Engagement: The need to engage communities and investors in sustainable urbanization.
  • National Dependency: Heavy reliance on national government decisions and resources despite decentralization policies.

In this regard, the study contains recommendations for action, such as:

  • Embrace holistic urban planning, emphasizing balanced development with a focus on strategic water management.
  • Strengthen flood resilience through effective drainage, wetland preservation, flow regime security, and vigilant monitoring.
  • Utilize the lake area for flood management, biodiversity, and tourism while enhancing urban green spaces.
  • Expand potable water connections, especially in underserved regions, to enhance water quality and reduce groundwater reliance.
  • Consider decentralized wastewater treatment solutions, particularly in pollution-prone areas, with collaborative city sanitation planning.
  • Improve waste management efficiency, extend landfill lifespan through waste separation and composting, and raise public awareness about waste.
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Houses of Cards and Concrete: (In)stability Configurations and Seeds of Destabilisation of Phnom Penh’s Building Regime


Scholars widely agree that cities and their built environments play a decisive role for a global transformation towards sustainability. This necessitates a shift away from unsustainable practices and constellations in cities towards more sustainable ones – particularly in contexts of the Global South, as they see the strongest current and projected urban growth and related construction activities. Research on urban sustainability transitions has however largely been biased conceptually towards innovation and new technologies, and geographically towards the Global North. While more research recently emerged that addresses the destabilization of dominant orders, it still predominantly considers Northern cases, and those with discernible transition processes.

This paper seeks to address these biases and studies factors that contribute to the (in)stability of socio-technical regimes. We argue that (de)stabilizing factors and the particular (in)stability configurations they form, must be scrutinised regardless of transition phase as they are ingrained in regime structures before transition processes become apparent. Identifying and characterizing (in)stability configurations and the seeds of destabilization can then support the development of contextualised transition governance strategies. Employing the building sector of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as an empirical case, this study differentiates sources of (in)stability from economic, socio-cultural and political-institutional dimensions. Our analysis suggests an ambiguous (in)stability configuration with tensions primarily within the socio-cultural and economic dimensions, and a dominance of stabilizing effects from the political-institutional dimension. The paper closes with implications for transition governance strategies and general arguments on the heterogeneity of transition contexts and regime constellations, particularly in countries of the Global South.

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