Global Sustainability Summer School 2013: The cities of the future

07/01/2013 - What do the cities of the future look like? What role do they play for global climate change? What influence does the German energy transformation have worldwide? These questions are in the centre of the 2nd Global Sustainability Summer School on “COMPLEX(C)ITY – Urbanization and energy transition in a changing climate“ taking place from 1 to 12 July, sponsored by the Robert Bosch Foundation and jointly organised by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS). Junior scientists, well-known climate researchers and experts for urban development from all over the world – from Brazil to India, from Ghana to Mongolia –will meet in Potsdam for this purpose.
Global Sustainability Summer School 2013: The cities of the future
What do the cities of the future look like? (Photo: Thinkstock)

For Prof. Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of the IASS, this year’s Global Sustainability Summer School is dedicated to the central challenges of demographic change: “The proportion of the population living in cities will strongly increase. Thus, the development of cities for the transition towards a sustainable, low-carbon and socially stable future will be of great importance. Our Global Sustainability Summer School gives young scientists the opportunity to exchange ideas with top-class international experts from science, economy and urban development. This will be decisive to solve these complex global challenges.”

35 excellent young scientists and practitioners were selected out of 360 applications. Together with internationally well-known experts, they will discuss strategies for global sustainability, energy and mobility. Visions will be developed how cohabitation in urban centres can be organised or how metropolises can mitigate climate change.

“More people in cities and less in rural areas are both risk and chance,” says Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of PIK. “If we do not succeed to reinvent urbanity, cities will remain important emission sources and will be strongly affected by global warming – for instance by heat waves. However, today we can also redirect the flow of investments in such a way that a climate-friendly urban infrastructure that is adapted to unavoidable climate change will develop.

Famous experts from science and economy could be engaged for the Summer School. For instance the US American physicist Doyne Farmer who is engaged in chaos theory and the physics of complex systems, Jessica Seddon, political scientist at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) in Bangalore, Gerardo Ardila, expert for urban development and environmental protection in the municipality of Bogotá, Beate Schlageter, working at Siemens AG as project leader in the field of strategy projects and Peter Hoeppe, head of the department Geo Risk Research at Munich Re. In addition to the lectures, there will be role-plays and theatre workshops.

GSSS takes place for the second time this year and is sponsored by the Robert Bosch Foundation. It offers the unique opportunity for both participants and experts to network and exchange views. “We are delighted to support the Potsdam climate scientists in the organisation of this academic summer school,” said Ingrid Wünning Tschol, Director of the department Health and Science of the Robert Bosch Foundation. “It is really impressive how international the group of participants is – and how outstanding these young people are. Knowledge about a central future topic will be brought from Germany to all over the world.”

The city as a dense fabric of social, material and ecological relationships, its forms and future are discussed by experts on 8 July 2013 from 6.30 pm in a public panel discussion on “The City of the Future and how to get there":

  • Prof. Dr. Dagmar Haase, Professor for Landscape Ecology at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
  • Pierre Laconte, Urban Planner and President of the Foundation for the Urban Environment
  • Christian Gaebler, State Secretary of the Senate Administration for Urban Development and Environment of the City of Berlin
  • Florian Lennert, Economist at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and contact person of “Intelligent Cities” at the Berlin Innovation Centre (innoz)

The event will take place at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy for Sciences, Jägerstraße 22/23 in 10117 Berlin. It will be public and attendance is free of charge. Advance registration is requested:

Further information on participants and full program:


Press Contact IASS Potsdam
Sabine Sämisch
+49 331 288223-41

Press Contact PIK
Jonas Viering
+49 331 28825-07