Urbanization combined with associated demographic and environmental changes are leading worldwide to unprecedented challenges. Global projections reveal that by 2050, nearly two-thirds of the world population will be concentrated in metropolitan center. In this respect, the MENA region came under extreme pressure, witnessing one of the highest urbanization rates in the world.
Within the framework of COSIMENA (Clusters of Scientific Innovation in the Middle East and North Africa), the DAAD organized the Public Lecture Evening to provide a platform for the presentation and the exchange of ongoing research in the field of Urban Planning and Development. In attendance of sixty guests, the COSIMENA Project Coordinator, highlighted that the interdisciplinary approach of the seven clusters is important “to open new perspectives and to find innovative solutions to pressing questions of our time”.
The first lecture was held by Prof. Dr. Sahar Sodoudi about the Influence of Urban and Environmental Planning on Micro Climate, Health and Energy Consumption. Sahar Sodoudi is a professor in urban climatology and heading the department of urban climate at the meteorological Institute of the Freie Universität Berlin.
In her presentation, Dr. Sodoudi stressed the negative impact of climate change on health, and on the energy sector. “The impacts of climate change in the cities”, she explained, “interacts with urban heat island effect, which forms due to urbanization.” Throughout her talk, Dr. Sodoudi highlighted the importance of climate change adaptation and urban heat island mitigation strategies, using many case studies from the MENA region. Real and projected climate data, based on urbanization from Egypt has been presented, to illustrate the evolution of climate change, urban heat islands and building`s energy consumption. Moreover, she explained measures to evaluate the effectiveness of adaptation strategies.
Dr.-Ing. Hassan Elmouelhi was the second guest speaker of the COSIMENA Public Lecture Evening. The topic of his presentation was the Co-production of Knowledge in Urban Development of countries in Transition, concretely Egypt and Tunisia. Dr. Elmouelhi is an urbanist and architect and for the last years he worked as a senior researcher and lecturer at Technische Universität Berlin, Habitat Unit and at the Urban Development Department at the Technical university Campus in El Gouna.
With focus on the development of specific urban areas, Dr. Elmouelhi presented positive contributions as well as risks and limits of students` fieldwork in informal settlements. Academic cooperation between Germany, Tunisia, and Egypt in the recent years has aimed to spread awareness and knowledge about informal settlements. However, the fieldwork raised also several challenges. “An important concern of each of those teaching experiences is how to avoid raising the residents` expectations,” said Hassan Elmouelhi. “Students` work is an academic work not a development project, and it has no funds for interventions” he explains. Yet he stressed that it can trigger development intervention through coproduction of knowledge with the community. One of the objectives of the lecture was to focus on how these issues have been encountered and resolved. Moreover, Dr. Elmouelhi illustrated how research tries to reach an optimum model as a recommendation for such type of teaching activities, based on the analyzation of selected case studies and his work of the last 8 years.
At the end of the Public Lecture Evening, a Q&A session provided the opportunity for an interactive discussion between the guests and the two lecturers.