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Year of Science dedicates itself to the cities of the future
The trend towards urbanisation is increasing around the world. Small cities are turning into large cities and large cities are becoming megacities due to an influx of millions of people. By 2030, two out of every three people will live in a city. But where do the challenges lie for a functioning city? How can effective infrastructures, energy and water supplies and a good quality of life be ensured and maintained? The Year of Science is tackling these issues faced by the cities of the future as part of its current key subject of urbanisation/megacities.
In most cases, it is the prospect of a better life or the urban culture that draws people to the city. However, a lack of education/training options or rising unemployment can also force many to leave rural areas. This influx of people creates large cities and megacities, which consequently have to cope with a wide range of scenarios. On the one hand they drive growth and create wealth; on the other, they suffer from social divisions and environmental problems.
These challenges of urbanisation are being faced in particular by South Africa. One of the regions in South Africa with intensive urbanisation is the Global City Region of Gauteng that includes the cities of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane, known as the JET cities. Around ten million people live in this region, which equates to approx. 20% of the South African population. Around 34% of the South African domestic product is generated here. According to estimates, the region of Gauteng will already be one of the 30 largest urban regions worldwide by 2015. Well-functioning infrastructure, reliable water and energy supplies and proper waste management are crucial factors in this context. However, free spaces in the city that enable humane coexistence and contribute to a good quality of life are equally important.
Around the globe, city planners and sociologists as well as disposal and energy experts are working on resolving the issues faced by the cities of the future. An example of this is the ACCTA 2013 "Advances in Cement and Concrete Technologies in Africa" conference, which was held under the auspices of the German-South African Year of Science 2012/2013. As part of the project, young scientists worked together to research the future of sustainable, high-performance concretes. Other cooperation projects are devoted to bridge engineering or how to integrate renewable energy sources into city designs. A further project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is the German-South African cooperation project "EnerKey". Its main goal is to devise an effective energy and climate protection concept designed to increase energy efficiency and improve energy supplies. Various different research institutions, the city governments of the JET cities, private companies and non-governmental organisations are working hand in hand to this end.
Information on the events is also available in our online calendar.
In line with the slogan "Enhancing research partnerships for innovation and sustainable development", there are six more topics in focus during the German-South African Year of Science 2012/2013 in addition to climate change: astronomy, bioeconomics, humanities and social sciences, human capital development, innovation in the healthcare industry and urbanisation/megacities.