Today, more than half of humanity lives in cities and one in five citizens in a metropolis of millions . The German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) predicts that within a few decades, another 2-3 billion people will move from the countryside to the city. Against this background, urban researchers speak of an „urban turning point“, a „procession of humanity“ or the „millennium of the cities“.
The increasing urbanization of entire regions is taking place so rapidly that it is becoming increasingly difficult to control them with the existing instruments. Frequently, the sustainability goals of conservative resource consumption and provision for the future in cities are so drastically undermined today that it is obvious that they are to be regarded as places of ‚careless‘ rather than sustainable action.
The pressure in the metropolises is increasing to make growth more environmentally friendly and to preserve the quality of life for the people. Innovative approaches and new strategies are needed to find answers to key issues related to the cities‘ boom.
What does rapid city growth and construction mean in the context of natural hazards? How can early warning systems protect cities? How can the development of the cities be accompanied or controlled? This also in terms of acceptable air quality, which has become essential for the well-being and health of city dwellers. How does the urban boom affect the availability of the resources of sand and water? What contribution does research in the Helmholtz Centers make to mitigating and coping with the consequences of climate change? This ESKP thematic issue highlights some options for action and approaches that are explored internationally but also in Germany in order to increase the resilience of cities. The topic special was accompanied by numerous authors, scientists and experts, who brought in know-how and their ideas.
The special topic is based on the expertise of scientists from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology ( KIT ), the German GeoForschungsZentrum ( GFZ ), the Climate Service Center Germany ( GERICS ), which is located at the Helmholtz Center Geesthacht ( HZG ), the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research ( UFZ ) and the German Aerospace Center ( DLR ) and the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research ( AWI ).