Workshops and Speakers

Sebastian Harnisch is a professor of international relations and foreign policy at Heidelberg University, a member of the Executive Committee of the Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE), and a member of the Board of Directors of the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA). His main research areas include German and American foreign and security policy, international relations theories, the foreign policy of the People’s Republic of China, the Korean peninsula, cybersecurity, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and climate change policy issues. He has taught at Trier University, Beijing Foreign Studies University, and Al-Farabi National Kazakh University. He has served as a research fellow at Columbia University in New York, Yonsei University in Seoul, and the Japan Center for International Exchange in Tokyo. He is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Foreign Policy Analysis journal, as well as co-­editor of the series Foreign Policy and International Order (Nomos Verl.) and the Oxford Research Encyclopedia for Foreign Policy Analysis (Oxford University Press).

Global Climate Responses – Scientific Basis and Political Factors

By Prof. Dr. Sebastian Harnisch and Prof. Dr. Werner Aeschbach

This workshop will first present the current state of research regarding climate change and its impact on humanity and the environment. It will further discuss whether and to what extent science-based policy recommendations from the expert community are effectively implemented by relevant actors. It will elaborate upon specific reasons for the frequent dissonance between advice from the expert community and decisions ultimately made by political leaders. Last but not least, participants, together with the workshop leaders, will discuss how to ensure that scientific facts are acknowledged and acted upon across diverse policy fields and issue areas.


Werner Aeschbach is the head of research in aquatic systems and biogeochemical cycles at the Institute of Environmental Physics at Heidelberg University. From 2012 to 2017, he acted as managing director of the Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE), and from 2013 to 2017, he was a member of the directorate of the Heidelberg Graduate School of Fundamental Physics (HGSFP). Before coming to Heidelberg University in 2003, he was a researcher at ETH Zurich, Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology), and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in New York. His research fields encompass physical processes in lakes, oceans and groundwater, water resources, and paleoclimate. He specialises in the development and application of isotope methods for the study of these fields.

Mario Schmidt is a physicist and professor of ecological management at Pforzheim University. Having previously served as a senior researcher at the Heidelberg IFEU Institute for Energy and Environmental Research for many years, Mario now heads the Institute for Industrial Ecology (INEC) in Pforzheim and is a member of both the advisory board of the Baden-Württemberg state government for sustainable development and the Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE). His areas of research include the Life Cycle Assessment and the analysis of energy and material flows in production and consumption systems.

The Role of Innovation and Technology for Sustainable Development

By Prof. Dr. Mario Schmidt and Prof. Dr. Claus Lang-Koetz

Can technology save the world? In the environmental and sustainability sciences, this is often denied on account of the negative rebound effects of efficiency strategies. As a solution, sufficiency and more frugal lifestyles are required. But without efficiency in production, climate protection goals are hardly achievable. Mario Schmidt argues from his global perspective, but he also brings concrete examples from manufacturing companies in Baden-Württemberg. Claus Lang-Koetz uses the example of markers in plastics that improve recycling to demonstrate how innovation processes take place in companies and what contribution they can make to solve ecological problems.

Claus Lang-Koetz is an environmental engineer and professor for sustainable innovation and technology management at Pforzheim University. He was a long-time researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute IAO in Stuttgart and afterwards he was responsible for innovation management in a medium-sized company in Baden-Württemberg. He also does research in various third-party funded projects at the INEC Institute.

Ulrike Gerhard joined Heidelberg University in 2011 as a professor of North American human geography and urban geography at the Institute of Geography and the Heidelberg Center of American Studies (HCA). She studied and earned her PhD in Marburg, Waterloo, and Edmonton (Canada) before completing her habilitation at the University of Würzburg. Prof. Gerhard’s research interests are current urban development processes in North America and Europe, which she frequently investigates from a comparative and interdisciplinary standpoint. Important subjects include sustainability, urban inequality, and mobility. Ulrike Gerhard heads the real-world lab “Urban Office Heidelberg—Sustainable Urban Development in the Knowledge Society”; she also serves as Associate Director of the HCA, a member of the advisory board of the Research Network Spaces & Flows, and Adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois.

Sustainable Urban Development – A Real-World Lab Perspective

By Prof. Dr. Ulrike Gerhard

Sustainable urban development has not only emerged into a global buzzword but has also become a prerequisite of our future society. Without a respectful usage of social, ecological, and economic resources, there will be no future for cities. But what lies behind this popular label? How does sustainability become more than just lip service paid by urban developers and architects? How can we achieve sustainable cities? This workshop will investigate these questions and related topics. First, in a rapidly transforming knowledge society, urban development cannot be accomplished without the participation of its citizens: too comprehensive is their knowledge base, too important is their “right to the city,” too unstable are solutions that have been produced only in the minds of planners and politicians. Second, the transformation of city neighborhoods, either through brownfield development, knowledge-led urban growth, or ecological upgrading, does not benefit all citizens. On the contrary, real estate prices are on the rise, especially in neighborhoods and cities with a great affinity for smart growth initiatives. Here, social sustainability and inclusivity will be important issues. Third, we want to address the issue of demographic change. How can we prepare for an ageing urban society? Last but not least, mobility is an important challenge for cities throughout the world. How can we prepare for more sustainable mobilities, especially when citizens are becoming increasingly migratory?


In this workshop, we will also discuss results and themes of the real-world lab “Urban Office Heidelberg – Sustainable Urban Development in the Knowledge Society,” a research laboratory that has existed in Heidelberg for more than three years. It has become a “headquarter of urban dialogue” in which a variety of initiatives, experiences, projects, and debates on sustainable urban growth have led to a new perspective on sustainability in a continuously “learning” city.

Jason Henderson is Professor of Geography & Environment at San Francisco State University. His research focuses on the ‘politics of mobility’ and examines how culture, politics, and economics shape urban transportation. Jason is author of Street Fight: The Politics of Mobility in San Francisco, and co-author of Low Car (bon) Communities: Inspiring Car-Free and Car Lite Urban Futures. He has published articles in International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Antipode, Urban Geography, the Journal of Transport Geography and several book chapters in academic books on sustainable transportation and the politics of the automobile.

Jason is currently writing a book about the politics of the bicycle and the car in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is also examining the politics of “tech mobility” (driverless cars, TNC’s, and private transit) in Silicon Valley.

The Climate Fight is a Street Fight: The Politics of Mobility in Copenhagen and San Francisco

By Prof. Dr. Jason Henderson

At 23 percent of the global total, transportation is the fastest growing sector of global GHG emissions, forecasted to grow by 40 percent by 2035 (IEA, 2013). This fact is in great measure owing to the expansion of global automobility; presently 500 million passenger cars are in use, but by 2030 this figure is expected to reach 1 billion, accompanied by another billion trucks, motorcycles and other motorized vehicles. Global automobility and transport GHG emissions have also been highly uneven, considering that today the United States has 4 percent of the world’s population but 21 percent of the world’s cars, produces 45 percent of the global carbon emissions that come from cars, and overall produces 25 percent of the total global GHG emissions while consuming 23 percent of the world’s oil annually (United States Department of Energy, 2011). If China had the same per capita car ownership rate as the United States, there would be more than one billion cars in China today—double the current worldwide rate. Reducing this uneven car dependence, and averting future car dependence, will need to be a centerpiece of sustainability and global equity.

Street reallocation in car-dependent cities is a critical piece of this puzzle. To fully realize a reorientation away from private cars, this can include prioritizing transit and bicycles over automobiles through the deployment of exclusive transit and bicycle lanes, the removal of car spaces such as parking and roadway capacity, and other measures.

Therefore, the workshop participants will analyze and discuss the politics and policies of reducing car dependency through car restraint policies and implementing more sustainable forms of transportation, comparing developments in specific cities, such as San Francisco and Copenhagen, and larger regions, such as California. The emphasis will include the local politics of how streets and urban space should be governed and regulated, and who determines this governance and regulation. The workshop involves active contributions by the participants to discuss and learn from different examples of sustainable transportation from all over the world.

In this workshop, we will also discuss results and themes of the real-world lab “Urban Office Heidelberg – Sustainable Urban Development in the Knowledge Society,” a research laboratory that has existed in Heidelberg for more than three years. It has become a “headquarter of urban dialogue” in which a variety of initiatives, experiences, projects, and debates on sustainable urban growth have led to a new perspective on sustainability in a continuously “learning” city.

Max Jungmann is the founder and CEO of Momentum Novum and a PhD candidate, researcher, and lecturer at the Chair of International Relations and Foreign Policy at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. In his doctoral thesis, he analyses the effects of climate change on public health and compares states’ adaptation actions to such risks. Through his past consulting services for governmental institutions and officials and especially his volunteer career at National Model United Nations • New York, where he currently serves as Under-Secretary-General for the General Assembly Department, he has gained a thorough understanding of the challenges and opportunities related to sustainable development. After years of research and continuing dialogue with experts in the field of social entrepreneurship and sustainable development, he is looking forward to passing on his knowledge and experience to current and future generations of global leaders, thereby enabling positive change towards sustainable development.

Good Health and Well-Being in the Era of Climate Change and the Sustainable Diet – Conservation Tips from ‘Developing’ Nations

By Max Jungmann and Rahel Haile

Heat waves, allergic reactions, infectious diseases like dengue or malaria, mental health issues – the list of health risks related to climate change continues to grow. Although numerous factors influence the health of human beings, scientific evidence shows that climate change has profound negative effects on a great number of health determinants. The workshop will provide an overview over primary, secondary, and tertiary climate change-related health risks and give insights into how states and individuals can adapt to such risks. Moreover, participants will discuss sustainability challenges of adaptation to climate change and develop solutions for effective and sustainable adaptation to climate change-related health risks

The second part of the workshop will describe the connection between one’s food choices and the resulting environmental impact. It will include a group discussion about what we can learn about conservation and sustainability from specific populations in developing countries.

Rahel Haile is an activist and student of Mechanical Engineering in Tel Aviv University. She has served as Former Third Engineer aboard Sea Shepherd’s M/V Sam Simon – a ship that is active against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in different parts of the world, as well as worked with direct dialogue in Greenpeace. Her passion for the environment and animal rights also enable her to be active in numerous animal rights organizations in Israel, usually discussing both of these issues with people face to face in various cities.


Ulrich A. Glasmacher is professor for Thermochronology and Archaeometry at Heidelberg University, a member of the steering committee of the Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE) and a member of the steering committee of the International Fission-Track Community. Prior to his professorship at Heidelberg University, Glasmacher was a senior researcher at the Max-Planck Institute of Nuclear Sciences and the Heidelberg Academy of Science. As a research professor he taught and researched at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada and as an assistant professor at the RWTH University in Aachen. His research fields encompass long-term landscape evolution, paleoclimate, thermochronology, archaeometry, and petrography and geochemistry of salt deposits, artefacts, pottery and ceramics. Moreover, he was part of the steering committee of the DFG Priority Program (PP) 1375 „SAMPLE“ and the DFG research group „RiftLink“. Recently, he preliminary initiated the DFG PP “MOVE-ON”. He also was the speaker of the material sciences community of the user group at Helmholtz Institution Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung GSI, Darmstadt and vicechair of the Forschungsstelle Archäometrie der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften, Heidelberg. Also, he has established an ongoing research exchange between Germany and Brazil since 2004 and organises the well-established German-Brazilian symposia.


Climate Change – Geological and Social Impacts

By Prof. Dr. Ulrich Glasmacher and Zahra Amirzada

The presentation will focus on the concepts of climate and climate change. The aim of the presentation is to understand the geological history of climate evolution over the past 700 million years. Special focus will be given to how life on Earth has responded to changes in climate conditions. Moving forward in time, the presentation will cover the reaction of the first humans to climate change at approximately 2.6 million years ago. In addition, the influence of climate change on ancient societies will be described and discussed in relation to contemporary societies. The presentation will discuss anthropogenic climate change and explain the need to reduce carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere. The final part of the presentation will investigate the idea of a “perfect climate” for humans. Furthermore, the consequences of human behaviour will be described and a future view of Earth and human evolution will be explored.


The following questions will be raised and answered:


–  How do humans react to climate change?

–  What kind of climate do humans want to have?

– Is there a specific climate that favours human evolution?

– Who is responsible for a society’s climate over time?

– What is geo-engineering?


Zahra Amirzada is a research associate at the Heidelberg Center for the Environment. She previously worked at UNESCO in the section on Earth Sciences and Disaster Risk Reduction and was a researcher at Utrecht University as part of the Experimental Rock Deformation Group. She is currently coordinating a research initiative on ‘Future Life in Climate Sensitive Regions’.


Alexander Siegmund is a professor of physical geography and the holder of the UNESCO Chair on World Heritage and Biosphere Reserve Observation and Education at the Heidelberg University of Education. Furthermore, he is an honorary professor at the University of Heidelberg, as well as a founding and board member of the Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE). He promotes the use of modern geo-technologies in environmental and sustainability research, as well as in education for sustainable development (ESD). His research focuses on regional climate and climate change, geo-ecology, environmental monitoring and modelling, applied remote sensing and GIS, and environmental and geo-education. He is the managing director of the Heidelberg Center ESD. He is a member of the University Forum of the National Platform ESD and the Baden-Württemberg Council on Sustainable Development, as well as the chair of the ESD University Network Baden-Württemberg.

Strategies for Sustainable Climate Change Adaptation

By Prof. Dr. Alexander Siegmund

The consequences of climate change can already be seen worldwide today: increases in heat waves, pronounced periods of drought, and heavy precipitation are just a few relevant phenomena. This results in a variety of consequences for agriculture and forestry, companies, and cities. In addition to climate mitigation, sustainable adaptation strategies to address the regional consequences of climate change are therefore of central importance. The workshop will present concrete examples of the possible consequences of climate change and discuss sustainable adaptation strategies that account equally for ecological, economic, and social aspects.

Melanie Eckle is a research assisstant at the Heidelberg Insitute for Geoinformation Technology (HeiGIT) at the GIScience Research Group (Heidelberg University) where the main objective is to improve knowledge and technology transfer from the fundamental geoinformatic research to practical applications. She is part of the HeiGIT “Geoinformation for Humanitarian Aid” team, one of their main objectives being to build a bridge between academia and applied research and humanitarian practice. She furthermore is a member of the board of directors of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team.

Geo-Data for Sustainable Development

By Sven Lautenbach and Melanie Eckle

The workshop will provide an introduction into OpenStreetMap, including related previous, current and future developments, research and applications. Participants will learn how OSM data and services are utilized for humanitarian and disaster management purposes, including recent approaches to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The hands-on part will give participants the chance to learn themselves how to contribute to these efforts and, how the data can in turn be utilized for different SDG related use cases.

Sven Lautenbach studied Geography at the University of Heidelberg and applied system science at the University of Osnabrück. After his PhD at the University of Osnabrück he moved to the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research – UFZ in Leipzig at the department for computational landscape ecology. He worked as a acting assistant professor for Geomatics at the Humboldt University, Berlin, as adjunct faculty for George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, USA, as adjunct faculty at the Vietnamese German University, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and as an assistant professor for land use modeling and ecosystem services at the University of Bonn. Since 2018 he joined the GIScience research group at the University of Heidelberg. His research covers questions of giscience, health geography, environmental modelling, spatial analysis, data science, trade-offs of land use decisions and ecosystem services.