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!

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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URA Periodical Issue 2 - Dialogues

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The URA periodical is an annual open-access publication, which will accompany the Sino-German research and development project Urban-Rural Assembly (URA, 01LE1804A-D), sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the FONA program Sustainable Development of Urban Regions (NUR). By combining scientific texts and essays, photographic works, and/or ethnographic studies including interviews, spatial mapping and drawings, the URA periodical will seek to bridge academic, practice and policy discourses around global sustainability challenges and integrated planning and governance approaches at the urban rural interface.

Towards a Sustainable and Water Sensitive Kratié, Cambodia / Executive summary of Baseline Study – findings and recommendations

Towards a Sustainable and Water Sensitive Kratie Cambodia

With increasing economic integration in the region and more bridges crossing the Mekong River in the vicinity of Krong Kratié, there is significant development potential as a regional centre and as an eco-tourism-based destination. At the same time, its development challenges are exemplary for other secondary and tertiary cities in Cambodia.With the urban development of the last thirty years, public services and infrastructure (road construction, electricity supply, water supply, etc.) have been substantially improved. This has provided good foundations for the Krong’s future development. Significant challenges remain for the development of efficient infrastructure, such as effective storm water and waste water management systems.

While grey infrastructure development is crucial for the development of Krong Kratié, alone it will not solve the existing and upcoming water challenges: Grey infrastructure can only meet a certain range of the Krong’s and peri-urban areas’ urban water management needs in addition to the challenges of long-term financing and sustainable operation as identified by the World Bank, for instance. What is required is the coordinated and integrated development of green-grey infrastructure. The Krong’s existing wealth of green infrastructure should be perceived as a strategic "asset" for infrastructure and urban development. However, the importance of these ‘natural’ areas for the city and its residents is little understood beyond being a source of supplementary income for many of the city’s poorer residents as reported during qualitative household conversations. The city's economic development and liveability is highly dependent on the sustainable management of its ecosystems and its water resources. These have come under pressure in the wake of increases in population and urbanization over the past century. Initially, population increases contributed to the loss of tall trees and vegetation in the urban area as timber was traditionally used for construction. Later modern building practices favouring the use of concrete contributed to the filling of low-lying urban areas and the loss of permeable
surfaces. Furthermore, these pressures may increase considerably due to the manifestations of the impacts of climate change. Currently, the Boeung Meleach and Boeung Kbal Dun Saong (lakes) behave as natural ecosystems providing a variety of benefits to citizens including evaporative cooling. Possible interventions in the future can decrease the goods and benefits provided by such ecosystems. Compared to other larger cities in Cambodia, such as Siem Reap and Battambang, the urban area of Krong Kratié has relatively little tree and vegetation cover, and along with building stock development and sealing, the city is heating up. The current low level of green spaces and shaded paths offer little opportunity for residents and tourists to spend time in the open, even during the daytime, limiting the types of activities and businesses that can take advantage of foot traffic. With a changing climate, negative impacts on public health and the loss of liveability and attractiveness of the city may further increase.

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