Cologne, 19th December 2003

Newsletter No. 3

Dear reader,

This is the third issue of the Newsletter of the MegaCity TaskForce of the International Geographical Union (IGU). Its focus lies on the forthcoming 30th International Geographical Congress (IGC) in Glasgow in August of next year with the announcement of three Megacities sessions, call for papers, and the modalities of a travel grants programme for young geographers. Furthermore, some of the recent activities of the Task Force are highlighted, and last but not least your interest and cooperation in the Task Force's activities is encouraged. The Newsletter is disseminated via E-mail and/or ordinary mail (upon request). Please feel free to pass it on to interested colleagues. We endeavour to keep our internet presentation up to date and invite you to visit our website at for information and details.

In brief: Recent Task Force activities
1. Call for papers: International Geographical Congress in Glasgow 2004
2. IGC 2004: Application for Travel Grant Program
3. International Conference in Shanghai: Call for Papers
4. Report: International Conference "Megacities III: Action Models and Strategic Solutions", November 24-26, 2003
5. New IHDP Core Project on Urbanisation
6. Further upgrade of the WebSite
7. Request for cooperation

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1. Call for papers in the session on "Megacities and Global Change" 30th Congress of the International Geographical Union (IGU) in Glasgow 2004: "One Earth - Many Worlds"
There will be three joint sessions of the MegaCity TaskForce and the International Human Dimensions Program (IHDP) on the topic: "Megacities and Global Change". Convenors are Frauke Kraas (Chair of the MegaCity TaskForce, Cologne/Germany), Barbara Göbel (IHDP Executive Director, Bonn/Germany) and William Solecki (Member of the TaskForce Steering Committee, New York/USA).

Background and concept: In the year 2015 more than 600 million people will live in almost 60 megacities worldwide. These megacities have become important phenomena of global change - and global change increasingly is affecting these cities as well. Against this background it is the major aim of three sessions, jointly organized by the IGU MegaCity TaskForce and the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP), to concentrate on the issues of megacities as a) nodal points of globalization and associated transformations, b) central elements of a global peace policy (by their high degree of vulnerability), c) areas with highly stressed natural environments (e.g. urban microclimate, heat islands, air and water contamination), d) risk-prone areas for natural disasters (e.g. typhoons, floods, changes in sea level, land subsidence - as most megacities are located on coasts, delta regions, and flood plains), e) significant nodes of greenhouse gas production, f) major consumers of water and food, g) areas of disparities and potentials for social conflict, h) entities with continuous loss of governability and planning.
Session information: Three sessions of 80 min. each aim at gaining a state-of-the-art overview on the topic. They have been allocated to the Megacities TaskForce to take place during the Congress and are scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, 18 August 2004. The sessions run as follows: 14.00 - 15.20 hours, 15.30 - 16.50 hours, 17.00 - 18.20 hours.

Registration for the IGC-UK 2004 Glasgow

Registration is now live for the 30th Congress of the International Geographical Union, the IGC-UK 2004 Glasgow. The Congress will take place at the Scottish Exhibition Centre in Glasgow and in the nearby Moat House Hotel, venues that together form the largest integrated exhibition and conference centre in the UK. For full registration details, information on the academic programme and abstract submission, the academic excursions and social trips, where to stay and how to get to Glasgow, see the IGC-UK 2004 Second Circular or consult the Congress website at The call for abstracts deadline is 31 January 2004. Don't miss it!

The main Congress theme - One Earth, Many Worlds - has allowed an exciting and wonderfully diverse academic programme to be developed. Particular sections of the academic programme are dedicated to sessions organised by the IGU Commissions and Task Forces. The Congress will incorporate associated meetings - the 2004 Annual International Conference of the Royal Geographical Society (with The Institute of British Geographers), a Joint International Geomorphology Conference on Geomorphology and Sustainability, as well as meetings of the International Cartographic Association and British Cartographic Society, and the Association of Geographic Information. A choice of academic excursions - throughout Scotland, to Iceland, or to Ireland - is available, pre-, during and post-Congress, offering the opportunity to extend academic discussion. An International Schools' Poster Competition is involving pupils from over twenty-six countries with more entries yet to come. A varied programme of one-day academic excursions and social trips, together with drinks receptions and a social programme, has added yet further variety - and a chance to unwind! To be held in an exciting city famous for its architecture, its people and their warmth of welcome, the 30th Congress is a unique opportunity and offers great value for money. So, with all that's going on in this, come to Glasgow in August 2004 to help celebrate, participate in and disseminate the importance of geography to the understanding of One Earth, Many Worlds.

For further details contact either Vicki Grant at Meeting Makers <> or Lorraine Craig at the RGS-IBG <>

2. International Geographical Congress 2004: Travel Grant Program
The International Geographical Union (IGU) announces the availability of travel grants to help defray the costs of participation in the 15-20 August 2004 International Geographical Congress in Glasgow. A total of $25,000 will be awarded competitively.
In selecting applicants to receive awards, preference will be given to new scholars and to those from developing countries. Because the funds available for this awards program are extremely limited, cost sharing is strongly encouraged; applications for complete support are unlikely to be funded. Though not required, a letter of endorsement from the chair of an IGU Commission or Task Force or from the chair of the applicant's National Committee for the IGU will be helpful in documenting the applicant's contributions to the congress. Endorsement letters should accompany applications or may be sent directly to the IGU Secretariat.
Completed applications (including endorsement letters) are due at the IGU Secretariat no later than 31 January 2004. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their requests on or about 28 February 2004. Awards of registration fees will be paid directly to the congress organizers. Awards for other costs will be paid in Glasgow in dollars or pounds sterling.
Direct any questions regarding IGU Travel Grant applications to
Download the application form as a pdf-file: [download] pdf document

Participation in the Glasgow Congress and Related Events
Provide a written statement (one page maximum length) describing your plans for participating in the Glasgow International Geographical Congress, including the title of the presentation you intend to give, the meetings of IGU Commissions and Task Forces in which you will participate, pre- and post-congress excursions you will take, etc. Include a brief statement of the benefits you expect to realize from your participation in the Glasgow Congress.
Complete details regarding the congress, including how to register and how to submit an abstract, are available in the second circular and at
Send your application to the IGU Secretariat, to arrive no later than 31 January 2004. Late applications cannot be considered.
International Geographical Union, 1710 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington DC 20009-3198, USA, Fax: +1-202-234-2744, E-Mail:

3. International Conference in Shanghai: Call for Papers
An International Conference on the "Urban Dimensions of Environmental Change: Science, Exposures, Policies and Technologies" will take place in Shanghai, China from May 25-28, 2004. Further information is available under

Deadline for abstracts is January 31, 2004.

The conference, which will be conducted in English, will examine the causes, impacts, and responses to environmental change in the world's major cities and urban areas as they relate to the issues of science and management. The topics will include policy, regulation, technology, impact adaptation, mitigation, remediation, and the need for integrated management structures that speak to the complexity of environmental problems in urban areas. Related topics include the implications of new and emerging environmental stresses such as global climate change, and the need for increased stakeholder involvement in urban environmental management. A central question will be how current processes of urban environmental change and management (including problem identification, policy development, and policy implementation) intersect with issues of vulnerability, sustainability, and equity, all of which are emerging as crucial issues in both developed and developing cities. The rescheduled dates for the meeting are the 25th to 28th of May 2004.

Conference Themes:
ˇ Urban Environmental Changes and Issues
ˇ Environmental Response Strategies and Regulation
ˇ Urban Environmental Change and Management: Challenges and related issues
ˇ Innovative Environmental Research and Technologies: New paradigms and technologies to address issues of urban environmental management during the current era of global environmental change

4. Report: International Conference "Megacities III: Action Models and Strategic Solutions", November 24-26, 2003
What has Sao Paulo to do with us? What can German co-operation achieve there? One thing is certain, namely that by 2007 half of the world's population will live in cities and by 2015 more than 600 million people will live in megacities, two thirds of these in developing countries.

Three international specialist conferences were devoted to the search for working models, for example of global growth potential and the optimisation of urban mobility needs, and solution strategies for the urgent problems in megacities (especially: massive environmental destruction and the growth of slums versus enclaves of prosperity). These were organised by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (Konrad Adenauer Foundation), Servicestelle Kommunen in der Einen Welt/InWEnt (Service Point Communities in One World) and the MegaCity TaskForce of the International Geographical Union.

Key themes for shaping the future of the megacities are: issues of governability and models of direction, sustainability as a guideline for policy formation, innovative transport strategies and optimised area management. The aim of this series of events was to integrate scientific research, politics and municipal practitioners in an international exchange of experiences for the first time. Encouraging examples were identified, deficits in research and implementation pinpointed and recommendations for political action developed.

Megacities were not seen merely as molochs of misery, but rather as motors of global innovation and growth as well as sources of momentum for culture and science. A leitmotif of the specialised discussion was the insight that increased participation of those directly affected is a key factor for the successful implementation of sustainable megacity development.

In this context it became apparent that today, development co-operation going beyond classic aid means learning from and with the partners in the South. At the same time it became clear that it can also make a central contribution to the establishment of global peace and to global environmental transformation. It is, however, a necessary precondition that German foreign policy and development co-operation utilise the potential of these massive global and local transformation processes.

The results of the conference which took place from November 24-26, 2003, in Schloss Eichholz, Wesseling, Germany, are summarised in a strategy paper for political decision makers. In spring 2004 an international scientific publication will be presented Further information is available at, and

A documentation of the conference can be found here:

5. New IHDP Core Project on Urbanisation
Urban areas are complex and dynamic systems that reproduce within their territory the interactions among socioeconomic, geopolitical, and environmental processes at local, regional, and global scale. Many of the most important and significant changes associated with the impact of globalization are taking place in urban areas. More than half of the world's population is estimated to live in urban areas (UNCHS 2002) with a world average annual rate of urbanization at currently 0.8 percent (varying from about 1.6 percent for all African countries to about 0.3 percent for all highly industrialized countries).

In the face of these trends of rapid worldwide urbanisation, the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP) has debated whether more emphasis needs to be placed on this topic. It has already been taken up by the IHDP core projects and is entering the agendas of other projects and initiatives, too. However, in view of the expected rate of urbanisation and the challenges it poses for sustainable development, the IHDP mandated an international group of dedicated scientists to explore the feasibility and convenience of a new core project on the human dimensions of global environmental change in urban areas, which accepts the process of urbanisation as its research focus and by this provides a nexus for activities so far disconnected.

This group of scientists brings together a diversity of scholars with a wide scope of expertise in different disciplines representing various regions of the world. Included are members of the MegaCity TaskForce of the International Geographical Union (IGU). To assist the IHDP in its deliberations, the group started by producing a scoping report relating the manifold scientific activities on urbanisation to global environmental change research. The members of the group convened recently at the IHDP Open Science Conference in Montreal in November 2003.

This report led the IHDP to consider a project on urbanisation as an unrivalled opportunity to address critical issues of worldwide importance that so far have not received adequate attention. One of the major conclusions was that urban areas have been understudied in the light of global environmental change, with the emphasis of existing literature being on the impacts of urban areas on global environmental change. Much less attention has been paid to the study of the impacts of global environmental change on urban areas and the people who live in them. Particularly critical are the conditions in developing countries where the combined impact of global geopolitical and socio-economic processes (structural adjustment programs, economic, social, and political crises) and global environmental change, have severe consequences on urban areas. O'Brien and Leichenko (2000) call this the double exposure to global change.

Research oriented to these complex interactions requires multidimensional and integrative perspectives capable of overcoming the limitations of current managerial approaches focusing on environmental problems isolated from their social, political, economical, and cultural context (Redclift 1994, Bryant and Wilson 1998, Gibbs and Jonas 2000). Critical in this regard is a better understanding of the interactions among social, economic, political, and environmental dimensions and how they shape the urbanization process (Ravetz 2000), and how this process is shaped by global environmental change.

Hence, the authors of the scoping report were asked by IHDP to form the core of a group of scientists continuing to develop a scientific framework for the study of urbanisation in relation to global changes. The process is co-ordinated by Roberto Sanchez (University of California, Riverside) with assistance of the IHDP Secretariat in Bonn and is envisioned to lead to the gradual establishment of a new, fifth IHDP core project with a focus on urbanisation. It is designed as an open, bottom-up process with the aim to encourage participation of a wide and international community contributing to the better understanding of the dynamics of urban areas. A first draft science plan will be presented to the IHDP Scientific Committee in March 2004.

For further information please contact Gregor Laumann at the IHDP Secretariat (

- Bryant, R. and Wilson, G. 1998. "Rethinking Environmental Management." Progress in Human Geography. Vol. 22, No. 3. Pp. 321-343.
- Gibbs, D. and Jonas, A. 2000. "Governance and regulation in local environmental policy: The utility of a regime approach." Geoforum. Vol. 31. Pp. 299-313.
- Grove, J.M., 1997."A Social Ecology Approach and Applications of Urban Ecosystem and Landscape Analyses: a Case Study of Baltimore, Maryland." Urban Ecosystems. Vol. 1. Pp. 259-275.
- O'Brien, K. and Leichenko, R. 2000. "Double Exposure: Assessing the Impact of Climate Change within the Context of Economic Globalization." Global Environmental Change. Vol. 10, No. 3. Pp. 221-232.
- Ravetz, J. 2000. "Integrated Assessment for Sustainability Appraisal in Cities and Regions." Environmental Impact Assessment Review. Vol. 20. Pp. 31-64.
- Redclift, M. 1994. "Development and the Environment: Managing the Contradictions?" Sklair, L., ed. Capitalism and Development. London. Routledge. P. 123-137.
- UNCHS. 2002. The State of the World Cities Report 2001. New York. United Nations Publications.

6. Upgrade WebPage
The website of the TaskForce at has been substantially upgraded: Statistical material on different megacities has been added or will be added in the next few days. Furthermore, new bibliographical details have been added together with further materials on certain cities, such as Wuhan. We have posted a new improved map listing all megacities with more than 5 mio. Inhabitants as well as maps showing the future projections of megacities.

Some statistics: Since 17th August 2001 until now the website has been contacted - growingly during the last months - by almost 35.000 users, and continues on a high level of an average of about 200 users per day. The majority of the contacts (45.0%) comes from Europe, 32.0 % from North America, 12.2 % from Asia, 3.7 % from Australia, 3.3% from South and Middle America, 0.7% from Africa.

7. 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.

We take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in our activities and wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous and geographically rewarding NEW YEAR 2004!

Frauke Kraas     Günter Mertins     Ursula Dörken

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