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Cluster in the Research area "Sustainability and environment"

The key topic “Renewable and non-renewable resources” deals with the technological, ecological, economic, and societal aspects of the management of scarce resources. The research on renewable raw materials concentrates mainly on land use for food production, energy crop or industrial raw materials as well as measures and technologies for reducing conflicts of land use and increasing the land resource productivity. Quantitative (water supply) and qualitative aspects (pollution and its impacts on human health and ecosystems) of water resources are examined. Analyses of effects related to climate change and relevant adequate measures play a major role in the field of land and water management. Especially the work on non-renewable resources focuses on life cycle assessment from the extraction of raw materials to the consumption and finally the disposal of products. Main emphasis is put on the appropriate recycling of certain raw materials.
In the key topic “Urban areas and global change” priority is given to the goals of and suitable strategies for a sustainable development of cities or metropolitan regions, taking into account the most relevant risk factors as well as technical and social vulnerabilities. The analyses concentrate on supply and disposal systems in the fields of energy, water, and waste, as well as their interdependencies. The activities do not only address the technical aspects and components for problem solving but also deal with the relevant socioeconomic, institutional, and organizational possibilities. The main focus lies on the relationships between cities and their environments or between the local/national and the transnational levels, e.g. when it comes to material flow and environmental pollution in the course of upstream chains of production abroad. At the moment, the geographical focus is put on cities in Europe and Latin America.