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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI THESys

Lectures 2016



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Land use change in the globalization era: Challenges and opportunities

THESys Lecture Series

Thurs, 13 October 2016, 16.15 pm
HU, Unter den Linden 6, Senatssaal


A central challenge for sustainability is how to preserve forest ecosystems and their rich biodiversity while enhancing food production. This challenge for developing countries confronts the force of economic globalization, which seeks cropland and triggers deforestation. Land use changes are increasingly associated with commodities produced for global markets. Some of the final consumers of agricultural and wood commodities, the corporations involved in their transformation and retailing, and civil society show a growing concern for sustainability. These actors are starting to express a preference for goods whose supply chain has been certified as meeting sustainability criteria. These private actors have designed new non-state market driven governance mechanisms aimed at influencing land use through global markets. Recent evidence on the effectiveness of these private land use regulations suggests some potentially positive direct and indirect beneficial impacts. Interactions between private and public environmental regulations need to be better understood.

Prof. Lambin explores global land use change in particular with regard to forestal and agricultural changes of land use caused by human kind, as for instance deforestation, agricultural intensification, and land scarcity. He does not only want to find out when, how and where the world is changing, but is also asking for cause and effect, in other words why the world is changing and why it matters – an urgently needed approach in order to shaping the upcoming societal transformations towards more sustainability.

The award-winning researcher holds a chair at two internationally important institutions: He is professor at the Département de Géologie et de Géographie in Louvain-la-Neuve of the Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium and at the Department of Earth System Science, School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences of the Stanford University in Palo Alto, USA.

Location: HU's main building, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Sentassaal.

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Managing urban turbulence: Atmospheric control and the modulation of infrastructure

THESys Lecture Series

Thurs, 19 January 2017, 17.15 pm, Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum (Auditorium) Geschwister-Scholl-Straße 1/3, 10117 Berlin


Digital control systems enable the unpredictable ecology of the atmosphere - and its interconnections with urban infrastructures to be “unblackboxed” by being made visible, calculable and actionable in a pre-emptive manner. These systems provide new logistical capacities that enable more calibrated responses that render the turbulence of disruptive events to be more effectively managed and modulated without closing down the whole city. This new strategic control capability for urban contexts has three distinctive features that render atmospheric turbulence and potential responses as visible and actionable. First, there is the capacity to anticipate events before they occur. Key to this is managing the boundary between the normal and the emergency. Nowcasting enhances urban authorities capacity to accurately predict the timing and location of an extreme weather event and avoid or even postpone the need for a generalised shutdown. Second, new control capabilities enable the development of standardised procedures for managing and withstanding events with much reduced operational disruption. Rather than a whole system closure only specific parts of an infrastructure may need to be temporarily closed, resources rerouted and the wider network stays open. Third, there is the development of new social capacity to respond more rapidly to ensure turbulence can be more effectively managed. Workers can work from home, citizens know how to respond in an emergency and infrastructure providers follow operating procedures to maintain circulation. The lecture critically reflects on the wider consequences of this emerging logic of urban control for transparency and empowerment. What is now rendered visible and actionable under conditions of atmospheric and infrastructural unblackboxing? Also what does it mean for the empowerment of users to incorporate the city into a new operational logic of control designed to render the turbulence as manageable resource?

Location: Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum (Auditorium) Geschwister-Scholl-Straße 1/3, 10117 Berlin

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