46th International Cities Forum 2023

„Adapting Cities to the Effects of Climate Change and Avoiding Waste to conserve our Resources“

Saturday, June 17

Every year, delegations from the partner and befriended cities are invited to Kiel Week to discuss a particular municipal topic at the International Cities Forum. The event therefore has high potential for the international work of the state capital Kiel.



Gruppenbild mit den Beteiligten

What it's all about in 2023

This year’s International City Forum is addressing two key municipal challenges: on the one hand, it is looking at adapting cities to the effects resulting from climate change, and on the other, avoiding waste to protect our resources.

In addition to climate protection, the topic of adapting to climate change is increasingly coming into focus. Cities and local authorities around the world are clearly feeling the effects of climate change:
phenomena such as heat and persistent drought, heavy rainfall, severe thunderstorms, high winds, storm surges and rising sea levels are already significant risks for urban residents, municipal infrastructure and urban nature.

The scenarios on possible climatic developments by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest that these developments will intensify considerably and that the risks will continue to increase.

Cities therefore urgently need to continue with and further develop targeted and holistic adaptation measures to protect people, infrastructures, as well as the environment and nature. 

Conserving resources and preventing waste are also key current challenges for cities and local authorities: around the globe, the use of natural resources exceeds the regenerative capacity on earth.

The consequence of this is a shortage of resources on the planet. Due to the high consumption of resources, for example, more than 45 million tonnes of household waste are produced each year in Germany alone.

But more and more cities – including Kiel – are fighting against the throwaway trend and joining the zero waste movement: they are committed to stopping the tidal wave of waste.

With the help of the 5 R's – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot – zero waste aims to change consumption habits and keep recyclable materials in a cycle so that no resources are wasted in the form of rubbish. A comprehensive zero waste concept has been created for Kiel for this purpose.

The City Forum aims to highlight different aspects of these two topics – adaptation to climate change and zero waste. To do so, different groups of people – such as representatives from science, civil society, politics and administration – are involved in the City Forum.

Three parallel thematic workshops are at the heart of the event, in which the participating cities will discuss opportunities and challenges as well as lessons learned from tried and tested approaches based on two to three practical examples.

All participants have the opportunity to select one workshop.

Workshops I and II will be offered in German and English, consecutive translations will be provided in addition by whispering interpreters.

Workshop III will be held in English only.

The three workshops are part of a framework programme consisting of a keynote speech, a dialogue discussion, the presentation of the workshop results and a concluding panel discussion. The attached agenda provides a detailed schedule of the International City Forum.


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Mehr Informationen über unsere Partnerstädte und befreundeten Städte sowie die internationale Arbeit der Stadt unter

Kiel bereitet seine Verkehrswende vor. Das Öffentliche Nahverkehrsystem wird eine deutliche Aufwertung erfahren.

Für die Landeshauptstadt Kiel ist das Thema Mobilität 2022 von besonderem Interesse. Bereits 2017 hatte Kiel gemeinsam mit den umliegenden Kreisen Rendsburg-Eckernförde und Plön einen „Masterplan Mobilität“ verabschiedet. Einer der zentralen Punkte in diesem Handlungskonzept ist neben dem Ausbau des Fahrradnetzes auch die Entwicklung eines tragfähigen innerstädtischen ÖPNV-Netzes. Im kommenden Jahr soll die Entscheidung darüber fallen, wie der Stadtverkehr Kiels in Zukunft aussehen soll. Aktuell erarbeiten die Verkehrsplaner*innen eine Trassenstudie, die die beiden Alternativen – Schnellbusse (BRT) oder Stadtbahn (Tram) – in ihren Vor- und Nachteilen gegenüberstellt. Die Studie soll Ende 2022 abgeschlossen sein und eine Entscheidungsgrundlage für die Kieler Ratsversammlung bilden. Eine Diskussion mit unseren internationalen Partnerstädten über deren Mobilitätskonzepte für die Zukunft ist somit für Kiel im kommenden Jahr besonders wertvoll.

Ziel des Städteforums 2022 soll es daher sein, mit den Partnerstädten über die unterschiedlichen Aspekte von urbaner Mobilität und die Herausforderungen der Mobilitätswende in einen Austausch zu kommen. Nach einem einführenden Impulsvortrag der Mobilitätsexpertin Katja Diehl sowie einem Dialoggespräch zwischen Oberbürgermeister Dr. Ulf Kämpfer und Jana Kühl, Professorin für Radmanagement an der Ostfalia Universität, wird es Workshops zu vier verschiedenen Aspekten von Mobilität geben: 

  • Stärkung des emissionsarmen Öffentlichen Personennahverkehrs (ÖPNV)
  • Ausbau von Fuß- und Radverkehr
  • Digitalisierung und Mobilitätswende
  • Mobilität rund ums Wasser

Abgerundet wird die Veranstaltung durch eine kurze Podiumsdiskussion, die auch Vertreter*innen der Zivilgesellschaft mit einbeziehen soll. Als Querschnittsthema soll dabei immer mitgedacht und diskutiert werden, wie die städtische Bevölkerung mitgenommen und für die Mobilitätswende begeistert werden kann. Der Austausch und die internationale Kooperation mit Kiels Partnerstädten kann bei der Entwicklung von Lösungsansätzen für die Herausforderungen der Mobilitätswende wichtige Impulse geben.


Cities in Cimate Change

Cities will be affected by the consequences of climate change. The talk deals with future sea-level rise and its impacts for coastal cities as well as their specific vulnerability.

It gives an overview on potential ways to adapt to coastal flooding by also presenting regional examples and points out the challenges communities and cities might face when adapting to climate change.

Finally, it gives examples of climate services and an insight on how the field of climate communication can improve those services.

Portrait Jana Koerth
Dr. Jana Koerth is a Postdoc Research Fellow at Christian-Albrechts-University, Faculty of Physical Geography



Agenda & Workshops

The three workshops are part of a supporting program consisting of expert input and a concluding panel discussion.

All participants have the opportunity to choose one workshop. Workshop I and II will be held in German and English, Workshop III only in English. Other languages ​​are supported through consecutive translation.

From 9 a.m.
Arrival of Participants

9.30 a.m. – 9.45 a.m.
Welcoming and Opening remarks
Götz Bormann, CEO Förde Sparkasse
Bettina Aust, President of the City Council Kiel
Miriam Gyamfi, Introduction to the conference

9.45 a.m. – 10.05 a.m.
Keynote Speech
Dr. Jana Koerth, Postdoc Research Fellow at Christian-Albrechts-University, Faculty of Physical Geography

10.05 a.m. – 10.30 a.m.
Talk on the challenges of climate adaptation
Doris Grondke, Head of Department for Urban Development, Construction and Environment
Joosep Vimm, Deputy Mayor, Tallinn

10.30 a.m. – 11.15 a.m. 
Group Photo & Short Break

11.15 a.m. – 12.45 p.m.
Workshop session

Workshop I: Municipal Adaptation Measures using the Example of Flooding Risks due to Heavy Rainfall
Practical Examples
City of Brest, presented by Jean-François Menez, Technical Director, Eau Du Ponant
City of Kiel, presented by Bärbel Laarmann-Ackermann, Department for Environmental Protection

Workshop II: Protecting the Population from Health-Threatening Effects of Climate Change such as Heat Waves
Practical Examples
City of Stralsund, presented by Stephan Latzko, Climate Protection Officer
City of Kiel, presented by Kai Breker, Public Health Department & Beate Ahr, Parcs and Recreation Office

Workshop III: Municipal Measures to Prevent Waste and Protect Resources (Zero Waste City) (in English only)
Practical Examples
City of Tallinn, presented by Kädi Eelmaa, Tallinn Strategic Management Office
City of Kiel, presented by Selina Kahl, Department for Environmental Protection

12.45 p.m. – 1.45 p.m. 

1.45 p.m. – 2.45 p.m.
Final Presentation & Panel Discussion
Dr. Jana Koerth, Institute of Geography, Kiel University
Andreas von der Heydt, Head of Dept. for Environmental Protection, City of Kiel
Carina Nilsson, Mayor, City of Malmö
Merlin Michaelis, BUND Schleswig-Holstein

2.45 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Closing Remarks
Bettina Aust, President of the City Council Kiel

Practical Examples
I. City of Brest, presented by Jean-François Menez, Technical Director, Eau Du Ponant
II. City of Kiel, presented by Bärbel Laarmann-Ackermann, Department for Environmental Protection

Climate change is leading to more intense and more frequent precipitation. The term heavy rainfall describes the phenomenon of large amounts of rain falling within a very short time in a mostly localised area.

The existing municipal drainage systems such as sewers, pumping stations, retention basins and water bodies are not designed for these volumes of precipitation and reach their capacity limits during heavy rainfall events: the risk of flooding increases. 

Heavy rainfall events can either affect entire districts or only certain streets. Large-scale flooding may occur or only isolated underground areas such as cellars and underground garages may be affected.

Despite modern climate and weather data collection, it is not possible to predict with certainty whether, when and to what extent a municipality will be affected by a heavy rain event.

Flooding poses a major challenge for local communities, including from rivers and as a result of rising sea levels in coastal cities. Flood management for surface waters attempts to prevent the flooding of settlement areas by means of sheet piling retaining walls and dykes, among other things.

In the case of extremely heavy rainfall, however, the issue is how to harmlessly drain precipitation from the settlement area and increasingly also the question of rainwater management. 

In order to bring together all actors from urban and landscape planning, water management, fire brigade, traffic and road planning, first of all the political decision-makers in a local authority must recognise heavy rainfall as a potential risk, put it on the political agenda and tackle it progressively.

This is what happened in Kiel. As a supplement to the previous planning and activities of the civil engineering department, a hazard and risk analysis was carried out as a precautionary measure.
Comprehensive heavy rainfall risk maps have been produced for the city region, showing where water flows on the surface in the event of a heavy rainfall event and where there is a risk of flooding.

The city administration uses these maps, among other things, as a supplement in drainage planning, in disaster control and in urban planning in the construction and green space sectors.

Key questions:

  • To what extent have extreme weather events (specifically: increased flood risks due to heavy rainfall) increased in recent years and how do these already affect your city/municipality today?
  • What risk-reducing (e.g. technical, planning, constructional) measures are already being implemented or planned in your city/municipality?
  • What conflicts of objectives could potentially arise as a result? How can local / city administrations and political decision-makers deal with this?
  • What is the basic responsibility of cities/municipalities in mitigating and adapting to extreme weather events? Where does local action reach its limits?
  • What are the limits within which adaptations can be made by means of structural measures? 

Practical Examples
I. City of Stralsund, presented by Stephan Latzko, Climate Protection Officer
II. City of Kiel, presented by Kai Breker, Public Health Department & Beate Ahr, Parcs and Recreation Office

Climate change is causing weather patterns to change and weather conditions to last longer in some cases. This in turn favours long-lasting heat waves and urban heat islands.

Especially in cities, this leads to persistent heat exposure: the asphalt shimmers, the air barely moves between the tall buildings, temperatures continue to rise on the upper floors of flats, and even at night cities no longer cool down. 

The temperature difference between the countryside and the city can be up to 10 degrees Celsius. One reason for this heat is the materials used in the city: concrete, glass or metal surfaces store a lot of heat and seal a large part of the surface.

This means that rainwater runs off quickly and less water evaporates, making it harder for the city to cool down. Buildings and streets absorb the sun's rays, store the energy and release the heat back into the surrounding air. Air-conditioning systems or car exhaust fumes make cities sweat even more due to their lost heat.

These temperature changes can have a strong impact on the well-being and health of the population: heat can put enough strain on the cardiovascular system to the point of death. Sunny years are also associated with high UV radiation exposure, which raises the risk of UV-related health problems like skin cancer.

UV radiation also promotes chemical processes in the atmosphere that increase air pollution. High air temperatures and strong solar radiation also heat up rivers, lakes and seas and promote the growth of harmful microorganisms in the water. In addition, a gradual rise in temperature can favour the spread of disease-causing or allergenic plants and animals.

Older people aged 65 and over, people in need of care, pregnant women, the homeless, asthmatics, people who work outdoors and small children are at especially high risk from heat.

This is why it is the task of local authorities and cities to develop measures to protect these people in particular from negative health effects and to create an overall healthier urban climate for all residents. Kiel's administration is currently in the process of developing a heat action plan for the city.

The challenges must be addressed at different levels. These include, for example, awareness-raising and educational measures, as well as the establishment of early warning systems. To cool cities down, useful measures such as planting green roofs and facades, using light-coloured paving stones, reducing car traffic in the city and preserving and creating fresh air corridors can also be helpful.

One essential and multifunctional measure is expanding green spaces and enhancing them for use as recreational areas: green inner-city spaces close to residential areas contribute significantly to reducing water runoff through their lawns and tree cover, and help cool the surrounding area through their evaporative surface.

Green connections between the outskirts and the city centre also encourage fresh air into the city. In this way, green spaces provide relaxing places in the city and a less stressful urban climate, especially during hot spells.

Maintaining green spaces and enhancing them for use as recreational areas, as well as unsealing paved surfaces and creating new, generously sized green oases in the city are decisive ways to keep the urban population healthy. They can also help minimise traffic in the surrounding area.

Sustainable solutions must be found for the competing land demands of living, working and recreation in the urban regions that consider the health and quality of life of the population. 

A landscape plan is a suitable instrument for providing the city with recreationally relevant open spaces on a large scale and in a planned manner.

Green areas and trees can be secured and further developed in specific locations using an open space balance which takes into account the accessibility and recreational suitability of the areas as well as the building density, among other assessment criteria.

Key questions: 

  • What measures have you already taken, planned or discussed in your city/municipality to improve the urban climate?
  • How can specific (vulnerable) population groups be better reached in order to protect them effectively? Is "leave no one behind" a viable paradigm to address the impacts of climate change in a socially adequate way?
  • To what extent can negative health effects of climate change already be observed today on the population and especially vulnerable groups in your city/municipality?
  • What conflicts of objectives could potentially arise as a result? How can local and city administrations and political decision-makers deal with this? 

Practical Examples
I. City of Tallinn, presented by Kädi Eelmaa, Tallinn Strategic Management Office
II. City of Kiel, presented by Selina Kahl, Department for Environmental Protection

Two billion tonnes - that's how much waste is produced worldwide every year. Germany's annual packaging waste generation is far above the EU average.

This much too high volume of rubbish not only wastes the precious resources of our earth, but also endangers the environment, the health of animals and humans, and promotes the warming of our planet.

However, more and more cities, organisations and companies want to do something about this negative development and have joined the international zero waste movement. 

Zero waste aims to conserve all resources or their materials through responsible production and conscious consumption, and to reuse products, packaging and materials.

According to the zero waste principle, no resources are burned and no waste is discharged into the land, water or air that could harm the environment or human health.

With the goal of preventing waste, zero waste not only aims to protect natural resources, but also contributes to climate protection by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Both the production and the disposal of products and materials involve a high energy input.

If unnecessary products are dispensed with from the outset, CO2 emissions can be avoided along the entire supply chain – from raw material extraction, processing and product manufacture to transport. 

Preventing waste and reusing products can also save large amounts of greenhouse gases by using less energy for the recycling, and recovery and disposal processes that would otherwise be necessary.

The City of Kiel was the first German city to join the "Zero Waste Europe" network and to develop a zero waste concept in a participatory process, in which more than 100 waste prevention measures are defined and clear targets are set for 2035 and 2050.

In the past two and a half years, the first measures have already been successfully implemented and many more have been started. 

These include, for example, financial support for the use of cloth nappies, the comprehensive and mandatory introduction of reusable systems at public events such as Kieler Woche, the installation of drinking water dispensers at schools or a city-wide competition for the promotion of resource-conserving everyday life.

Since February 2023, Kiel is now the first city in Germany to be officially certified as a “Zero Waste Certified City”.

Key questions:

  • What options and necessities for waste prevention and resource protection exist at local/municipal level as a contribution to climate protection?
  • What advantages can arise for citizens and local/city administrations and how can appropriate incentives be set?
  • How can appropriate measures be implemented effectively and successfully in cooperation with civil society, the private sector and the broad public?
  • What challenges and potential conflicts of objectives could arise as a result?

Results of the workshops

The core of the event was formed by three thematic workshops in which the participants, i.e. representatives of various partner cities, used two to three practical examples to talk about opportunities and challenges as well as the knowledge gained from tried and tested approaches.

Individually, during the four workshops the following aspects were tackled, discussed and can be summarized as follows.

You can read the complete documentation here.

Graphic record Workshop I
Workshop I
Graphic record workshop 2
Workshop II
Graphic record workshop III
Workshop III


Beate Ahr


Beate Ahr has been responsible for cross-sectional tasks and coordination in the Park and Green Space Department of the City of Kiel since 2021. She studied landscape conservation at the University of Hanover and subsequently worked mainly as a freelancer in landscape planning projects, the preparation of ecological reports, in gender research and in participation projects for young refugees.

Beate Ahr is involved in promoting education for sustainable development in Schleswig-Holstein, including events on climate protection and climate adaptation.

Kai Breker


Kai Breker has been responsible for environmental hygiene in the Department for Public Health of the City of Kiel for over 25 years. In 2017, he additionally took over the duties of the Port Health Authority.

Since 2021, he has been head of the department for port and environmental hygiene as well as crisis prevention planning in the Public Health Department. As a further area of responsibility, he now also focuses on climate change adaptation and here in particular the implementation of health measures.

Kädi Eelmaa


Kädi Eelmaa is leading circular economy related projects within the Municipality of Tallinn.

She has a background in communications from the University of Tartu and Hanzehogeschool Groningen and is currently undergoing her studies on production and production management in the technology and circular economy department atTTKofApplied Sciences.

An advocate of public-private partnership, she decided to bring her vast experience from the private sector to the public sector in 2022 to act and see the change from linear to circular locally.


Dr. Sonja Gelinek


Dr. Sonja Gelinek studied law in Dresden and Greifswald.

She has been Head of Department for Schools and Sport and Second Deputy Mayor of Stralsund since 2019 and is there in charge with a wide range of themes as facility management, sports, schools, shipyard, district work and climate protection.

Doris Grondke


Doris Grondke has been a city councilor for urban development, construction and the environment in the state capital of Kiel since 2017. 

She previously worked in the same capacity for the city of Buchholz. She studied architecture in Braunschweig and Hanover.

Before becoming an architect, Doris Grondke worked for several years as an intensive care nurse at the Medical School in Hanover.

Miriam Gyamfi


Miriam Gyamfi is a certified organisational developer with a propensity for social entrepreneurship. She regularly advises teams and organisations on meaningful paths towards sustainable change. She has a keen eye for the requirements of effective communication and collaboration.

During the International Cities Forum she is in charge of the overall conference moderation.


Teresa Inclán


Teresa Inclán is a certified facilitator and organisational developer. She has a specific focus on suitable development and social entrepreneurship.

During the International Cities Forum she will moderate Workshop II: Protecting the Population from Health-Threatening Effects of Climate Change such as Heat Waves.

Jan Johannsmeier


Jan Johannsmeier is a Geographer, organisational developer and mediator. Besides his diverse thematic work in development cooperation, he has another passion in fostering good cooperation within teams, organisations and their cooperation system respectively. Thus, facilitating dialogue and exchange among different stakeholders is key to all of his assignments.

During the International Cities Forum he will moderate Workshop I: Municipal Adaptation Measures using the Example of Flooding Risks due to Heavy Rainfall.

Selina Kahl


Selina Kahl has been project leader in the Environmental Protection Department of the City of Kiel for one and a half years. She is responsible for the coordination and controlling of the different Zero Waste projects for Kiel.

In her bachelor's degree she studied political science and economics and in her master's degree social sustainability. During her studies she worked for the German Sustainability Award and coordinated the Entrepreneur Award.

Since November 2020 she has been working in the Zero Waste project on the implementation of zero waste measures and raising awareness for Zero Waste on a local level.


Dr. Jana Koerth


Dr.  Jana Koerth studied geography, psychology as well as landscape development and is currently co-leading a project aiming at the development of a climate communication strategy in cooperation with Baltic Sea cities with a focus on sea-level rise related coastal flooding.

She has been a senior researcher in the field of climate impact and adaptation research at the institute of Geography, University of Kiel, since 2017 and has initiated and realized various climate adaptation projects.

Furthermore, she holds extensive transdisciplinary experience in the collaboration between research and various actors.

In the last years she increasingly focused on conceptual issues.

Bärbel Laarmann-Ackermann


Bärbel Laarmann-Ackermann works as a clerk in the environmental protection office of the city of Kiel.

In addition to her tasks in the lower water authority for the protection of water bodies and against flooding, she initiates and accompanies measures for adaptation to the negative consequences of climate change such as the green roof support program of the city of Kiel as well as the heavy rain hazard and risk maps within the framework of a heavy rain risk management.

Bärbel Laarmann-Ackermann studied environmental engineering, worked in an engineering office and a state environmental agency, and has been supporting the team of the state capital Kiel as an engineer since 1994.

Stephan Latzko


Stephan Latzko studied environment and business management at Trier University (diploma).

Between 2013 and 2016 he was Climate Protection Manager of the administration of the district Vorpommern-Rügen (Germany).

He has been working as Climate Protection Manager of the Hanseatic City of Stralsund since 2016.


Jana Marie Mehrtens


Jana Marie Mehrtens is a certified consultant for systemic organisational development, working with organisations, networks and teams as well as complex multi-stakeholder systems for 20 years, primarily in bi- and multilateral development cooperation.

During the International Cities Forum she will moderate Workshop III: Municipal Measures to Prevent Waste and Protect Resources (Zero Waste City).

Jean-François Menez


Jean-François Menez has been working for 12 years at Eau du Ponant, a Brittany local public company for water supply and wastewater.

As Technical and Development Director, he specializes in public health and environmental protection.

Merlin Michaelis


Merlin Michaelis is a project manager at the non-governmental organization BUND (Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland e.V.).

He comes from a rural community in the south of Schleswig-Holstein. After study visits in Lüneburg and Dresden, he has been back in the north since 2019.

In his full-time work for BUND Landesverband Schleswig-Holstein, he is particularly concerned with the topics of land consumption, sealing and urban-rural relations.

He advises municipal representatives and volunteers and seeks exchange with a wide variety of people and institutions in order to think outside the box and forge unusual alliances. With full conviction, but pragmatic in the solution.


Carina Nilsson


Carina Nilsson was elected Chairman of the Malmö City Council in October 2018. She was previously the Deputy Mayor in charge of welfare, healthcare, and social services and chairman of the municipal welfare, healthcare, and social services board.

2008 she gained her Master’s degree in public health at Malmö University.

Her political career began in the 1980’s on the sanitation committee and as a replacement on the municipal environmental board in Malmö.

After that she had a number of municipal political roles such as chairman of the environmental board, chairman of the cultural board. During 2008-2010 as Deputy Mayor in charge of culture and leisure.

Carina Nilsson is also the chairman of the organization Social Democratic Women Malmö and is on the board of the Skåne municipal alliance.

Joosep Vimm


Joosep Vimm is since 2021 Deputy Mayor of Tallinn responsible for business, circular economy and innovation.

He is also a member of the Supervisory Board of TJT Recycling - a city owned waste managment stock company.

He is heading Tallinn's transition towards circular economy.

The City promotes and supports new circular economy business models. As the newest development all Tallinn's waste stations are transformed into circular economy centers.

Joosep studied global political economy at Stockholm University and worked for the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs and the Tallinn City Council.

Andreas von der Heydt


Andreas von der Heydt studied landscape architecture and environmental development in Hannover and graduated with a focus on the implementation of the guiding principle of "sustainable development".

He has been working in municipal environmental administration in various functions for 26 years.

Since September 2015, he has been head of the environmental protection office of the state capital Kiel and represents municipal environmental issues in various committees at federal and state level.