Cologne, 20th December 2002

Newsletter No.1

Dear reader,

Today you receive the first Newsletter of the MegaCity TaskForce of the International Geographical Union (IGU). It is sent to colleagues and all those potential readers from different backgrounds and research affiliations of whom we know that they are interested in megacity research. The Newsletter is disseminated via E-mail and/or ordinary mail. In this first issue we want to familiarize you with the Task Force on Megacities, its aims, its activities during the year 2002, and its composition. For all details, please see also the Task Force's website at Furthermore, we would like to encourage your cooperation in a number of concrete matters.

The International Geographical Union (IGU)
Although we are sure that most of you know the International Geographical Union (IGU) and have heard of its scientific groups we would, nevertheless, just briefly introduce the IGU to you because a number of members on the mailing list are from various other disciplines and backgrounds:
The International Geographical Union was established in Brussels in 1922. However, the history of international meetings of geographers is much longer. The first of a series of congresses met in 1871 in Antwerp. The International Geographical Union has - among others - the aims to initiate and co-ordinate geographical research requiring international co-operation as well as to promote its scientific discussion and publication and to participate in international co-operation with the object of advancing the study and application of geography. The IGU is headed by President Prof. Anne Buttimer, Dublin, Secretary General and Treasurer Prof. Ron Abler, Washington, and eight Vice-Presidents who together form the Executive Committee. Only recently, it has established its archives in a central study and documentation centre, the "Home of Geography", at the Villa Celimontana in Rom. Commissions and Task Forces are the scientific groups within the IGU with the aim to carry out the basic and specific research in the major fields of geography. Task Forces, in particular, are IGU's instruments to respond to opportunities for IGU participation in global, international, interdisciplinary, and inter-union research programmes. Further details on the structure of IGU can be found at:

The MegaCity TaskForce

Its Mission
"The mission is to apply geographic expertise to problems of megacities and to the theory underlying the principles, knowledge, and methods employed in solving megacity problems. The task force should focus primarily on issues of continental and global scale, and on the restructuring of urban life over the long term, with particular reference to global change in environmental systems and the globalisation of economy, politics, and society. It will work in collaboration with relevant international scientific unions and with relevant IGU commissions and study groups." (quoted from the mission statement received from Ron Abler in 1998)

Its Aims and Objectives
Major aims and objectives of the TaskForce which was founded in the year 2000 are:
a) to play a leading role in the development, promulgation and dissemination of new research topics on megacities; encourage and promote research programmes on the dynamics of megacities; participate in international committee work
b) to provide information und service
c) to establish a megacity network and promote cooperation with other relevant initiatives
Please refer to our website at where you will find further specifications under 'Aims'.

Its Members
The Task Force has a Steering Committee of at present 9 members from 7 different countries under the chair of Prof. Frauke Kraas, Germany, with Prof. Günter Mertins, Germany, as Scientific Secretary. The other members are:

Prof. Surinder Aggarwal, India
Dr. Hildegardo Cordova, Peru
Sir Peter Hall, U.K.
Dr. André Horn, South Africa
Dr. Ernesto Jauregui, Mexico
Dr. William D. Solecki, U.S.A.
Prof. Ben Wisner, U.S.A.
Ex Officio members are Prof. Ronald F. Abler, Secretary General of IGU, and Prof. Lindisizwe Magi, South Africa, Vice-President of IGU.

Its Website
The Task Force's website is at Here you can find information on the following items:
- Aims
- News
- Events
- Research
- Documentation
- Internet Resources
- About the Task Force
The website is still a work in progress and will be completed successively. We also try to update it continuously.

Its Activities in 2001 and 2002

  • Concept and realisation of the website have been finished; since 3/9/2001 the website can be found online at
  • A mailing list has been established which comprises at present about 100 scientists from 22 countries.
  • The TaskForce contributed to a Megacity Atlas which was edited by Geospace Austria in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) (so far in English and German, a French edition is in preparation; for further information see 43 authors, mainly geographers from different countries, wrote articles on single cities. Reference: Lothar Beckel (ed.): Megacities - The European Space Agency's Contribution to a Better Understanding of a Global Challenge. Salzburg: Geospace, 2001. ISBN 385313-051-8.
  • A session on "Megacities and Health" with 5 papers was organized at the AAG-Congress in Los Angeles on 22nd March 2002 (chairs: M. Löytönen, F. Kraas). A common publication will be edited in 2003/04.
  • A number of lectures on the 'Future Problems of Megacities' were given on the occasion of the international "Earth Day" (22nd Apr. 2002) and during the German "Year of the Geo-Sciences" 2002. Furthermore, poster and PowerPoint presentations were held during the German Geo-Year science street on "Feuer" (Cologne, 5-9 June 2002) and at the congress "Menschenwelten" (Bonn, 7-9 Nov. 2002).
  • Task Force Session at the IGU Regional Conference Durban, South Africa, on 07 August 2002. Chaired by Dr. Wim Ostendorf, the session began with an overview of the aims and structure of the MegaCity TaskForce and an assessment of the challenges faced by megacities by Dr. Horn. After some lively discussion the session continued with further individual contributions focusing on the place of specific dynamics of megacities. These included a paper on Chennai (India) by Prof. Anadhi, and a paper on Beijing and Shanghai by Prof Zhao. The session was concluded by a progress report from the Chair of the MegaCity TaskForce, Prof. Dr. Frauke Kraas, that was presented on her behalf by Prof. Jörg Stadelbauer.
  • Paper contribution on Urbanisation Processes and Global Environmental Change at the Workshop of IGES/APN Mega-City Project & Joint International Symposium of IGES/APN/START/ ESCAP/UNEP-IETC/IGBP International Workshop on Sustainable Urban Development in Asia: Policy Integration & Industrial Transformation towards Sustainable Urban Energy Use for Cities in Asia, Kitakiyushu, 23-25 Jan. 2002.
  • Participation and lecture on Megacity problems in an IHDP workshop (1-16 June 2002) on Urbanization and Global Change in Königswinter/Germany. 36 foreign participants of 28 countries.
  • Participation in the session "Vulnerability and Megacities" within the congress of the German Committee for Disaster Reduction (Deutsches Komitee für Katastrophenvorsorge e.V., DKKV), 3. Forum Katastrophenvorsorge (7-9 Oct. 2002) on ‚Katastrophenvorsorge und Industriegesellschaft' (‚Disaster Prevention and Industrial Society'). Lecture: "Securing urban waters in Megacities. Case studies of East and Southeast Asia" GeoForschungszentrum Potsdam
  • Participation in an IHDP Scoping meeting on Global Change and Urbanization, 7-9 Dec. 2002, Bonn. 16 participants from 14 countries. A scoping report will be finished until January 2003.
  • Organisation and chair of a Round Table meeting on Megacities in Bonn (9th Dec. 2002). This round table was organised in response to the need expressed by numerous colleagues to reflect on the state of interdisciplinary and international research, in the face of the urgent problems of megacities in the world-wide urbanisation process and considering their special relevance for the future. The aim was to identify central research topics and issues, as well as specific areas in which action must be taken, appropriate measures and the potential of co-operative research. 17 German colleagues and 4 international colleagues from various disciplines participated in the round-table discussion. The DFG (German Research Council) agreed to finance the discussion. A detailed report on the background and findings will be presented soon.
  • Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen (the oldest German Geographical Journal) is publishing a series of 6 reports on selected megacities (4-2002 until 3-2003): Shanghai (published in issue 4-2002), Moscow (5-2002) Sao Paulo (6-2002), Manila (1-2003), Los Angeles (forthcoming), and Cairo (forthcoming).

  • Its Activities in 2003
  • A second workshop on the state-of-the-art of interdisciplinary Megacity research will take place in spring.
  • Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen will publish a special issue on Megacities (4-2003) with 8 research papers of international researchers with state-of-the-art contributions and articles on comparative topics of megacity research as well as on single megacities.
  • A common publication on "Megacities and Health" (see above) will be edited in 2003 or 2004.
  • Concept and realisation of a Megacity-Reader for the broader scientific community (as a comparative introduction to the major problems of megacities worldwide).

  • Request for Cooperation
    We would like to invite you to cooperate with the TaskForce by
    - sending us details about various activities, like conferences, call for papers, etc. to be disseminated on the homepage under 'events';
    - sending us details on ongoing or new projects and research initiatives (to be included under 'research');
    - informing us on recent publications (quoted in the same way as on the web under 'documentation' and 'publications');
    - sending us material on individual megacities, such as maps, statistics, www-links for inclusion into the webpage under 'documentation'.
    The aim is to have a website that is both informative and topical and reflects the state of the art of megacity research.

    Finally, please let us know whether you are interested in being kept in our Megacities mailing list. Any feedback from you - be it in connection with research projects, news on relevant meetings and activities, the Newsletter, or other matters - will be highly appreciated! Please contact either Frauke Kraas or Ursula Dörken, who is responsible for the secretariat in Cologne.

    Wishing you a happy and enjoyable holiday season and all the best for a peaceful and successful New Year,

    Frauke Kraas     Günter Mertins     Ursula Dörken

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