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Climate Bridge Conference

Challenges of Climate Change for Spatial and Environmental Planning – An International Dialogue

Cleaning up in Union Beach after superstorm Sandy.

Two-day hybrid conference at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, October 14–15, 2021. A collaboration between the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany New York, The Rutgers Center for Urban Environmental Sustainability and the Rutgers Climate Institute.

The Transatlantic Climate Bridge (TCB) was initiated in 2008. As a network of various activities supported by Germany's Federal Foreign Office, Federal Ministry for the Environment and the foreign missions in North America, the TCB aims to stimulate and expand transatlantic exchange on climate and energy policy. Our Rutgers conference will focus on the comparison between New Jersey and the German Ruhr Region.

Climate change is creating new challenges for spatial and environmental planning on both sides of the Atlantic. While seeking to moderate the impacts of climate change from rising temperatures, extreme precipitation and sea level rise, the context of planning and policy must also address growing awareness of social equity and environmental justice. New Jersey's underserved communities are similarly exposed to environmental challenges as their counterparts in the German Ruhr Region, settlement patterns and brownfield issues also show similarities. This has become evident through 15 years of successful collaboration, including summer programs, a landscape Architecture design studio, internships for Rutgers students and publications.

The conference Climate Bridge will foster a collaborative dialogue among planners, designers, scholars, public administrators, and decision makers from both sides of the Atlantic. Scholars from different universities in Germany and the United States will contribute papers and discussion that highlight interdisciplinary approaches to addressing the environmental, economic, political, and social dimensions of planning considering climate change.


German consulate logo

Main Funder

The Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany New York. Thanks to the support of the consulate, the conference was able to reach people overseas and enrich the conference with interdiscipliary approachs across both sides of the Atlantic.

Partners and Collaboraters

Rutgers CUES logo.
Rutgers Climate Institute logo.
ASLA New Jersey logo.
Rutgers SAS logo.
UA Ruhr logo.

Hybrid Conference Setting

On March 25, Rutgers President Holloway announced the return to campus for the fall semester. All students will be required to provide proof of vaccination. Therefore, it is expected that the conference can happen in a hybrid setting as a face-to-face meeting with an integrated online component for those attendees who cannot make the trip to New Jersey because of COVID-19 restriction.

The conference hybrid format will include keynote lectures, panel discussions, poster sessions, and small round table sessions that will allow for engaged interactions among planners, designers, scholars, public administration, and political decision makers from sites of the Atlantic. The documentation of the outcomes will happen on two levels: All lectures, sessions, and panel discussions will be posted and available after the conference. The second component is a planned publication that will reflect presentations, discussions, case studies and outcomes in a collection of scholarly papers. This book will contribute to the transatlantic dialogue and will enhance the discourse on environmental planning in the context of climate change.

Conference Sessions

Opening Remarks:
Welcome and Introduction into the Conference Approach.
Video—Opening Remarks

Introduction into the Topic:
Ruhr Region, New Jersey, and the changing climate in the context of People, Place, and Policy.

Panel 1—People:
As increasingly severe climate events around the world have shown us, the effects of climate change are uneven. This panel discusses how people are impacted differently by climate change and how these inequalities are addressed in New Jersey and the Ruhr region.
Video—Panel 1: People

Panel 2—Place:
This panel opens a dialogue on the relationship between climate change and the places we inhabit. How are both natural and built systems impacted by climate change?
Video—Panel 2: Place

Panel 3—Policy:
Both Germany and the US operate under a democratic governance structure within an underlying capitalistic system that honors private property. A major difference between these two contexts is how much planning and policy can impact land use and land management decisions.
Video—Panel 3: Policy

Panel 4—Rain:
The Challenges: How do torrential rain events place additional stress on stormwater management systems? Where are similarities between New Jersey and the Ruhr Region?
Video—Panel 4: Rain

Panel 5—Sea:
The Challenges: What are our responses to sea level rise? How do we handle the often competing logics of resiliency and equity? Is retreat thinkable and can it be implemented equitable?
Video—Panel 5: Sea

Panel 6—Land:
The Challenges: How do increasing temperatures and rainfall intensity impact our cities and suburban areas. What strategies in the fields of urban forestry and urban agriculture exist to mitigate heat island effects and to reduce soil degradation?
Video—Panel 6: Land

Day 2 Keynote Presentation:
The Future: Changing Demographics.
Video—Changing Demographics

Panel 7—Vision for People:
How do we ensure fair access to resources and increase resilience across all communities? How can we prepare current and future generations to face the impacts of climate change?
Video—Panel 7: Vision for People

Panel 8—Visions for Place:
How do we mitigate the effects of climate change related events - torrential rains, unprecedented heat, fires, and storm surges? What is the biggest challenge facing the answer to this issue?
Video—Panel 8: Visions for Place

Panel 9—Vision for Policy:
How can policy acknowledge our underlying capitalistic system while addressing substantial changes of procedures and administrative frameworks?
Video—Panel 9: Vision for Policy

Keynote Presentation:
Adapting our natural and built environment one design project at a time.

Public Panel Discussion—Political Visions:
This panel focued on the German-American comparison concerning environmental planning approaches to climate change, highlighting that leadership on both sides of the Atlantic is required to set a new political agenda for a resilient future.
Video—Political Visions