Risk Habitat

Strategies for Sustainable Development in Megacities and Urban Agglomerations

A Helmholtz Research Initiative 2007 - 2011


The research plan adopts an integrative research approach that combines basic theoretical and conceptual considerations with empirical and application-oriented analysis. The underlying notion of integration is a broad one, taking various dimensions of integration into account and making them explicit.

In order to implement the integrative and interdisciplinary research approach and to offer a common framework for orientation, the research initiative applies three well-established, theory-based analytical concepts:

  1. The concept of Sustainable Development formulates the target dimension of the initiative. It provides orientation towards primary goals by defining specific sustainability criteria in close cooperation with the Chilean partners. The aim is to identify the desired future mega-urban development and to provide guidelines for both research and urban policy.
  2. The Risk concept focuses on the extent of the problems and their severity. In addition, it helps to identify and analyse the conditions for and impact of the emergence of risks that pose a potential threat to future sustainability.
  3. The Governance concept concentrates on the actions to be undertaken. This will be achieved by analysis of current efforts to enhance sustainability in megacities, and by the provision of knowledge and recommendations relevant to the appropriate solutions to specific problems together with their potential for implementation.

The initiative applies these analytical concepts to several typical megacity issues: Land - use management, Socio-spatial differentiation, Energy system, Transportation, Air quality and health, Water resources and services and Waste management.