How City Labs in Mexico, Peru and India contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation to its impacts

Within the Morgenstadt Global Initiative, Fraunhofer ISI contributes to the conduction of "City Labs" in Mexico, Peru and India and coordinates in particular the Mexican Lab in Saltillo. Fraunhofer ISI also provides energy assessments for the cities of Saltillo (Mexico) and Piura (Peru) and evaluates the CO2 impact of suggested project measures across all cities. Based on an analysis of local development needs and through knowledge exchange, replicable and fundable solutions and strategies emerge that sustainably strengthen the pilot cities in targeted capacity building.

Towards 2050, more than 2.4 billion people will sum-up to urban spaces and about 70 per cent of the global population will be urban. Mitigating climate change and adapting to its inevitable impacts, while achieving the goals of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda will require urban spaces to fundamentally transform at an unprecedented speed. Smart and sustainable urban development is therefore a central key to climate change adaptation and efficient use of resources. However, there is often a lack of appropriate assessments of local needs and investment priorities can be very different. This is especially true when financial resources are limited and implementation is complex.

In this context and within the Morgenstadt Global Initiative, a project funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety BMU through the International Climate Initiative IKI, Fraunhofer ISI contributes to the conduction of City Labs in Mexico, Peru and India. The initiative, coordinated by the University of Stuttgart, uses these Labs to develop integrated strategies and roadmaps for sustainable urban development in the selected pilot cities. The project is carried out in strong cooperation between Fraunhofer Institutes and local partners, and thereby aims to create a high degree of local ownership, as local stakeholders from the public and academic sector, industry and civil society are actively involved in city assessment and creation and evaluation of solutions.

City lab of Saltillo shows great potential for climate action

In the case of Saltillo, a fast-growing city in Northeastern Mexico with approximately one million inhabitants, this city faces severe climate change impacts due to its location in the desert with a medium-warm climate and scarce rainfall. But the City Lab Saltillo, coordinated by Fraunhofer ISI in cooperation with University of Stuttgart and with participation of Fraunhofer IGB, Fraunhofer IAO, Tecnológico de Monterrey, and the Municipal Planning Institute of Saltillo, also shows great potential for climate action: Several analyses helped to define a sustainability vision for the water, energy and mobility sector of the city, and identified the main challenges and solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation in an integrated manner. Furthermore, a number of concrete project ideas for the city were developed and two of them are already on its path to implementation: The first one is awarding best practices in energy efficiency, as a way to increase awareness and reduce energy use and GHG emissions, a crucial topic as the City of Saltillo is one of Mexico´s most industrialized ones. The second one is the integration of blue and green infrastructure to urban spaces of the city, with the aim to increase the soil´s permeability and foster aquifer´s recharge, thereby reducing water pressure and creating a sponge city effect. All results related to the City Lab of Saltillo can be read in the accompanying report.

In addition, the Fraunhofer ISI research team also conducted interviews and energy assessments for the cities of Saltillo (Mexico) and Piura (Peru) and supported with CO2 estimates of the impact project measures in Kochi, Saltillo and Piura, as important factor to assess the contribution of proposed solutions to climate mitigation. The project measures, developed with a high involvement of local stakeholders through several workshops, represent the integral part to develop a sustainability roadmap for the cities. Projects in the energy sector, developed with contribution of Fraunhofer ISI, are of high relevance for climate change mitigation, as the energy sector is globally responsible for three quarters of CO2 emissions.

Solutions for the energy transition

Catalina Diaz, global project coordinator from the Institute of Human Factors and Technology Management IAT of the University of Stuttgart and affiliated to the Urban Economy Innovation Unit at Fraunhofer IAO, states: »The participative and co-creation approach of these City Labs allows for a high degree of local ownership. Likewise, the strong cooperation among Fraunhofer Institutes enables to activate expertise in different fields, an indispensable requisite to carry out systemic analysis across different sectors with integrated solutions. «

Jose Antonio Ordonez, who coordinated the City Lab in Saltillo, from the Business Unit Global Energy Transition at Fraunhofer ISI says: »When we consider that more than two thirds of the world's population will live in urban areas in 2050, it quickly becomes clear that urban spaces and sustainable urban development play a central role in climate change prevention and adaptation to its inevitable impacts. It is now the time to break down global and national targets to the local level. Through the City Labs, we support the energy transition and the achievement of the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement both globally and locally, and contribute with expertise from our cross-cutting topic »Transformation and Innovation Systems for urban areas at Fraunhofer ISI«. The question of how local partners can deal with climate change through innovative solutions played a particularly important role here. «

The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI analyzes the origins and impacts of innovations. We research the short- and long-term developments of innovation processes and the impacts of new technologies and services on society. On this basis, we are able to provide our clients from industry, politics and science with recommendations for action and perspectives for key decisions. Our expertise is founded on our scientific competence as well as an interdisciplinary and systemic research approach.

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