Changing cities in a changing climate

A cycle of discussions about the city and the environment

Cities are a relatively recent phenomenon on our planet. Their impact on ecosystems and the biosphere as a whole, however, has proven enormous. Over half the human population lives in cities, where some 60% of human resource consumption and waste production takes place, making them the principal sites of how we influence and are influenced by the biosphere.
The density of urban life promotes the range of benefit and harm that residents may experience: Cities make for efficiencies of scale that give us mass transit, opera houses and libraries; they also expose residents to higher risks from environmental pollutants, crime, and disease. The power of cities over human wellbeing and the biosphere on which it rests requires us to carefully reconsider past and current approaches to urban planning and development.
In particular, the history of building materials and the history of urban development should be reviewed in light of their ecological footprint. We must understand how our building materials and our building and planning practices and routines interact with ecosystems in order to best shoulder the responsibility of cities' outsize role in a sustainable future.
This imperatives of such a comprehensive and systemic approach have been laid down in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals comprising environmental, social and economic dimensions.
The Sustainable Cities agenda begins with adaptation to climate change, but it extends to the consideration of the particular ethical challenges presented by various constituent groups and interests. Sustainable cities must be built through an inclusive process, one that takes into account a wide range of aspects such as, for example social justice, women’s rights or the wellbeing of animals and plants. Physically, a crucial consideration will be whether cities should be developed vertically, horizontally, or inwardly. Philosophically, we must carefully evaluate the moral patienthood of future generations, socially vulnerable groups, and non-human actors. Overall, cities must become more balanced. Resources must be balanced. Interests must be balanced. The needs of citizens must be balanced against the needs of ecosystems and the limits of the Earth’s biosphere.

Urban development represents a crucial lens through which these balances can be understood. This includes the study of circular and regenerative economies, water and green infrastructure, means for reducing and eliminating GHG emissions from cities, and the careful review of implementation case studies. That is why we — MARCH Architecture School, Bauhaus University Weimar and Friedrich Ebert Foundation, together with experts from other organizations — call for the reconsideration of cities, including new approaches to the initiation, design, and planning of cities. Our goal is to learn about international experience and discuss the realities of Russia, Germany, and other countries in order to understand how theories and practices of "green", low-carbon, socially just and inclusive urban development bear transformative potential in the XXI century.

In this field of sustainable cities, we recognize and welcome the positive changes and experiments that have already taken place. Federal authorities, private developers, architects, urbanists, urban researchers, public associations, and citizens have made considerable progress toward theorizing and realizing a better future. These efforts should continue and we aim to contribute through promoting dialogue between actors, practitioners, architects, urbanists, planners, researchers and theorists from Russia, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. To this end, in 2021−2022, we are launching a series of discussions under the rubric of Changing cities in a changing climate, which we invite you to join.
curator Angelina Davydova
co-curator Daniela Zupan

Angelina Davydova

Curator of the discussion cycle

Director of the Bureau of Environmental Information.

Specializes in the themes of environmental policy, green economy, economics and politics of climate change, UN climate talks, public environmental movements, sustainable development. Teaches at the Faculty of Journalism, St. Petersburg State University, ITMO University, at the joint program of MARCH and IGSU RANEPA "Territorial Development Management". Lectures on environmental issues, sustainable development, green economy.

Daniela Zupan

Сo-curator of the discussion cycle

Assistant Professor of European Cities and Urban Heritage at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. Her research engages with transformation processes in European cities, comprising research on urban heritage, on the history of planning ideas and paradigm changes, as well as on the socio-spatial, political and economic trends that shape urban development in the 20th and 21st centuries. Member of the Institute for European Urban Studies and the International Heritage Centre at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar.

Axel Schubert


As Architect and Urban Planner he represents the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland FHNW, School of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geomatics.

He is head of Sustainable Spatial Development at the Institute of Sustainability and Energy in Construction and Lecturer at the Institute of Architecture. Axel was project planner in the planning department of the Canton of Basel-Stadt (2005−2017). He worked as a lecturer and project manager at the HSLU Institute for Socio-Cultural Development where he was responsible for the MAS in communal, urban and regional development. Axel has been active in various movements (e.g. against Stuttgart21 or as board representative of habs queer basel) and is one of the initiators of Basel2030, an political initiative for climate justice. He writes about planning theory, especially as a critic of overall concepts, such as sustainable development and runs the website.

Maria Falaleeva


Ph.D. in geography, consultant in environmental and climate policy, sustainable urban development. Worked at the Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Amsterdam (Netherlands), Center for Marine and Coastal Studies, University of Cork (Ireland). Expert of the national delegation of the Republic of Belarus at the conferences of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris (2015) and Katowice (2018). Currently she is a consultant for projects of the European Union, UN, international organizations. Head of the international public association "Ecoproject".

Christian Lamker


Assistant Professor Sustainable Transformation & Regional Planning at the University of Groningen (Netherlands). His research and teaching within the Department of Spatial Planning and Environment focuses on roles in planning, post-growth planning, regional planning and leadership in sustainable transformation. He has studied and worked on spatial planning in Dortmund, Aachen, Auckland, Detroit and Melbourne and coordinates the Master programme Society, Sustainability and Planning (SSP) in Groningen.

Daniyar Yusupov


Architect, urbanist, consultant on the development of the urban environment of post-Soviet cities.

From 2004 to 2010 was a chief architect of the Institute LENGIPROGOR. He is an expert in urban development CSR North-West, RosNIPI Urbanistics, ITP Urbanika, a guest expert in international projects, author of educational courses and a number of authoring methods and formats of training in design in St. Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering. In 2014 was a guest expert at the Institute of Urban Design in St. Petersburg. From 2011 to 2014 he was a member of St. Petersburg Urban Planning Council.

Co-founder of the environmental design studio design: :unit [St.Petersburg].

Franziska Ehnert


Senior Research Fellow at the Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development.

She studies urban transitions to sustainability and analyzes how they can be governed by exploring governance tools to initiate, accelerate, and consolidate urban transitions. She also explores new forms of governance to empower citizens to co-create their cities and communities. In her research on participatory governance, she seeks to combine citizen participation with transdisciplinary research and experimentation to explore new processes of knowledge co-production for social change towards sustainability.

Nadezhda Tsarenok


Architect and Urbanist.

Since 2013 she has been involved in co-design.

In 2013 — 2015 she led the project "Alternative Yard. Automobile Plant"; in 2016 -2017 led the project "Alternative Yard. Serebryanka"; in 2018 — 2019 initiated the project "Serebryanka. My commuter". In 2018 she was a part of co-design experts in the development of neighborhood transformation projects in Polotsk, Novopolotsk and Novogrudok within the UNDP "Support for Green Urbanism in Small and Medium-sized Cities in Belarus", in 2020 she taught at the "City for All" workshop at the European College of Liberal Arts in Belarus. Since 2020 — a tutor at the joint program of MARCH and IGSU RANEPA "Territorial Development Management".

Maxim Titov


Maxim Titov joined the European University at Saint-Petersburg in 2016 as an Executive Director of the Energy Policy Research Center (ENERPO). In this role he is focused on policy development and advocacy for sustainable energy and climate finance. In 2003−2015 Maxim served as the project manager at the International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group. He continuously held managerial positions in the field of sustainable energy and climate finance in Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

October 7 | 18:30 (CET)
In the course of our first conversation, we will try to take a broad view of the problems of urban development in the present and future, first of all, by trying on a "climate" optics. Cities are the most significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions, but also the first "victims" of the negative outcomes of climate change. How we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in cities, adapt to climate change, make urban infrastructure and life in the city at large "resilient" or resistant to potential threats and risks of the future. What cities can and should do right now.

These are the matters that we will talk about with Axel Schubert and Maria Falaleeva, climate policy and urban development consultant, expert of UNDP projects, head of the "ECOPROJECT" public association, author of the book "A new city for a new climate".

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October 26 | 18:30 (CET)
The issue of urban growth and development is currently undergoing a substantial transformation. There is more and more discussion about the concepts of post-growth, the "inward" growth of cities, about optimal and balanced urban development, including the use of resources.

Christian Lamker and Daniyar Yusupov will dwell on the practical application of the post-growth concept to the practices of city planning and construction in Germany and Russia.

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November 9 | 17:30 (CET)
In the last few years, we have seen a substantially increasing demand of citizens to participate in urban development issues, including in the field of ecology. It is the issues of environmental preservation, as well as environmentally sustainable urban development that are at the center of public interest, often triggering the process of self-organization of initiative groups of urban activists.

These trends are observed all over the world, including in Germany and Russia. Residents, on the one hand, desire to gain more information about the state of the environment, including data on the quality of water, air, soil, and green areas welfare, on the other hand, they also want to participate more and more in environmental policy issues in cities — to create their own parks, public gardens, initiate and maintain practices of shared use and efficient consumption of resources, and circular economy.

We will discuss these trends with the experts — Franziska Ehnert from Dresden will talk about specific mechanisms of urban "green" transformation by accounting opinions of residents, and architect, urbanist and practitioner of participatory design Nadezhda Tsarenok will take a look at similar experiences in post-Soviet cities.

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December 1 | 17:30 (CET)
The issues of generation, transportation and consumption of energy are becoming more and more socially important, going beyond the bounds of technical specialists' exclusive field of expertise. Energy now is not only technology, it is also politics, market, social responsibility, and ethics.
The matters of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption in general, as well as improving energy efficiency turn out to be the primary drivers for determining the course of further development of the energy sector in cities as a whole.

Energy efficiency is already recognized almost everywhere as one of the key priorities for the sectors of energy, housing and utilities and the city economy as a whole. At the same time, the matter also has a social aspect: who should pay for energy-efficient renovation, equipment replacement, insulation and modernization of houses, power generating equipment, boiler houses, networks? These issues will be discussed by Dr. Hendrik Sander, political scientist and research assistant at the Institute for European Urban Studies, Maxim Titov, Executive Director of the Energy Policy Research Center (ENERPO).

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The events are held within the framework of the Russian-German Year "Economy and Sustainable Development" 2020/2022