Panel 5. Towards sustainable and resilient communities  

57% of the world’s and 77% of Europe’s population already live in urban areas and by 2050 the numbers are expected to increase to 68% and 85%, respectively. The last few years (and especially 2020) have shown us that the way we live in cities will change. For this reason, a transition towards more sustainable and resilient cities and communities is the great challenge. 

Cities hold great opportunities for simultaneous climate protection and economic development, employment and wealth generation. However, in order to realise these opportunities the risks and the conflicts of interests in e.g. exponential growth have to be handled very carefully. Although cities worldwide only occupy 2% of the land area, they consume 75% of global energy and generate 80% of the greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, sustainable development of urban areas and multidisciplinary planning is a challenge of key importance. 

In order to be able to manage urban areas in a sustainable manner, the local governments in partnerships with the local business life and civil society and other stakeholders need to work closely together on making cities smarter. Also important is the planning of cities, as this decides today how we will live in cities in the future. In this context, new innovative systems can be used to enhance the typical provider-consumer model, leading to the higher energy consumption awareness on both sides, with consumers being able to assist the energy service providers in their processes of integration of renewable generation. 

Smart urban technologies can provide an important contribution to the sustainable development of cities, with Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) offering new interdisciplinary opportunities to improve services while reducing energy consumption and emissions. ICT is also a key for implementing new roles along the energy value chain, where traditional business models are rapidly becoming outdated, with more demanding consumers and sustainability policies. However, it is of utmost importance to design the smart solutions, so their benefit exceeds the resources necessary for implementing the measure. Sustainable is always smart, but smart is not necessarily sustainable. 

Panel 5 invites contributions that are dedicated to the design, planning, development and assessment of smart and sustainable cities, communities and city districts, being focused on smart communities or urban planning, local actions and multidisciplinary and crosscutting aspects. 

Contributions may focus on a local and/or a global perspective on smart and sustainable cities and communities. Some relevant topics are: 

  • Lessons learned from COVID-19 for sustainable communities.
  • Financing of smart solutions.
  • “Smart and sustainable communities” as a concept (characteristics, relevant indicators, relation with other concepts and potential impacts).
  • Global outlook and comparisons of smart and sustainable cities (case studies, replication and transfer across cities and communities).
  • ICT (smart meters, smart appliances, monitoring and control systems, etc.) for energy management at community and city district level and their potential for energy and costs savings as well as smart urban technologies to improve quality of life. 
  • Smart urban technologies to improve quality of life (improved indoor air quality and/or comfort, convenience and accessibility), and to provide economic and social liveability. 

Contributions may also focus on urban planning issues or the implementation of local actions, as well as on cross-cutting aspects linking several aspects related to sustainable communities and city districts. Some relevant topics are: 

  • Planning of sector coupled infrastructures in urban areas.
  • Regeneration of urban space, design options for greening urban environments and urban challenges related to energy and climate.
  • Local actions (experiments, projects and demonstrations) in cities and rural areas and their role for learning and upscaling.
  • Local governance structures and urban governance strategies and policies for community solutions and cooperation to achieve low carbon energy transitions at community and/or urban area level. 
  • Multidisciplinary planning (including circular economy and society aspects) for smart and sustainable urban development and energy efficient cities and city districts.
  • Citizen engagement and cross-sectoral collaboration (stakeholder involvement) for sustainable communities. 

We are looking both, for practical examples as well as more theoretical and conceptual contributions. 

Panel leaders


Markus Fritz, Fraunhofer ISI, Germany

Markus Fritz studied environmental engineering at Technical University of Darmstadt (M.Sc). He wrote his Master Thesis about The impact of ambitious fuel economy standards on the market uptake of electric vehicles and specific CO2 emissions. Since 2018 he has been working as a Researcher in the Competence Center Energy Technology and Energy Systems at the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI in Karlsruhe. His current work focus is on energy efficiency in the heating and cooling sector and communities. Markus has a strong interest in advancing the energy transition at the local level and has therefore co-founded the enPower Podcast to push foreward the German energy transition.


Susanne Bieker, Fraunhofer ISI, Germany

Dr.-Ing. Susanne Bieker is Head of the ISI research group "Transition and Innovation Systems for urban areas". She is a spatial planner and holds a PhD in civil engineering. Her focus is on (urban) infrastructure systems under changing conditions, such as climate or demographic change, with special interests in spatial and water-energy-related implications. Her experience working with the German Development Agency broads her expericence and expertise in international challenges and solutions in the different sectors. She is active as reviewer for different international research funding agencies and funders such as the Belmont Forum.

Kirsten Dyhr-Mikkelsen

Kirsten Dyhr-Mikkelsen, Dept of Environment and Traffic, City of Copenhagen, Denmark

Kirsten Dyhr-Mikkelsen, Chief Consultant at Copenhagen Climate Secretariat, Master in Energy Planning and International Technology Transfer, has almost three decades of work and research experience in the field of integrated energy planning and analysis. She has worked for clients globally on policy development and evaluation a.o. energy efficiency obligation schemes. Earlier work includes several guidebooks on evaluation of energy efficiency policies.

During recent years she has primarily worked for the transition of cities to higher resource efficiency through application of smart solutions. In Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark, she coordinated a 5 year cross-sectoral research and demonstration project testing new efficient technologies in full scale in large residential areas  and demonstrated green solutions for district heating and within mobility. Currently, Kirsten is heading Copenhagen’s contribution to the EU smart city project, ATELIER, which aims to tackle the challenge of organisational change and cross-sectoral cooperation for sustainable energy development of urban areas. This research and demonstration project, involving eight European urban cities, focuses on how to strengthen cross-sectoral long-term strategic decisions that provide room for sustainable solutions of tomorrow. Tools in this process are various types of innovation ateliers in the form of stakeholder involvement and living labs for innovation.

Our valued 2022 Partners – Thank you!