Freiburg – a lab for Water Legacy projects
Last summer demonstrated it very clearly: our climate is changing rapidly; water is becoming scarce and urban settlements are heating up. Cities must prepare for the future to ensure urban life will stay liveable even when heat strikes, and to create resilience against global warming.
Freiburg i. Br. has long been a pioneer in applied environmental protection in Germany. This in turn is a very good reason to plan and hold conferences and events in Freiburg, which offers the ideal conditions to demonstrate the commitment of the organizers to CSR / ESG.
In the weeks to come we will present projects, initiatives and case studies dealing with WATER in Freiburg – e.g. water protection, drinking water supply, climate adaptation, international commitments etc.
Water is the most precious resource we have, and corporate ESG commitment to the future can be easily demonstrated and derived from the topic of water.
We want to encourage conference planners and companies/associations to include new topics and local experts in their program, to enrich both the event itself and help the participants seeing the big picture through exciting initiatives to protect water in Freiburg.
Inspiration, curiosity, foresight, and desire for change play an important role here. There are many options for knowledge transfer and examples of cross-sector interaction in Freiburg – presenting new program ideas and allowing active support of projects – leaving a legacy – around the topic of water through conferences.
Freiburg already is a “water city”, so to speak, despite of and precisely because this city is located in the particularly warm south-west of Germany. The appearance of the city is characterized by the Freiburg “Bächle” – small and open watercourses, fed with river water from the Dreisam, flow through countless alleys in the old town. They act like a magnet on visitors and are a unique asset to a hot day in town.
Water makes a city liveable and alive – the Bächle have been in the city since the 12th century when the town was founded. The flat and paved channels then supplied the people with drinking water, service, and extinguishing water.
Expertise and experts for water can be found in Freiburg at all municipal and private levels, the need for everyone to work together on urgent environmental and societal issues is not questioned and is ingrained in the city’s DNA.
The city administration itself is engaged in climate adaptation management, hotels, and convention centres are either certified or climate-friendly and the convention office has the network to connect meeting planners with thematically relevant projects.
Many important modules for future-proofing the city depend on water, water management, water governance, private and public initiatives.
Let’s look into a few examples for water governance:
The Regiowasser e.V. association takes care of water protection issues in the Freiburg, Breisgau and southern Baden regions. Many initiatives and relevant projects come together at Regiowasser – it is an exemplary project for thematic cooperation on a broad scale. The association thus fulfils the wishes of the EU Commission and EU Parliament for the inclusion of “broad circles” in all planning that deals with drinking water, wastewater, flooding and aquatic nature conservation. According to this, water management planning should no longer be solely in the hands of the water management administration.
A look at all the topics RegioWasser deals with, reveals the diversity of water protection – more will be shared after a conversation with Regiowasser e.V.
Water is elementary in heat-resilience planning. As early as 2018, the city planning office created a city-wide concept for how to deal with the increasing heat stress.
All land use planning processes and the urban framework planning takes this heat-resilience concept into account. It identifies the places where heat stress in the city is concentrated – today and in the future – and where this stress affects particularly sensitive urban areas.
These are, for example, areas where many people live or spend time and where is not enough green space for cooling and recreation.
A catalogue presents suitable measures for Freiburg with which the urban and green structure can be adapted to climate change. The core of the concept is the city-wide action plan, which provides spatially specific planning information.
The principle of the “sponge city” also flows into all construction projects. Contain water, reduce run-off, and use it to cool or irrigate the city. A city should absorb rain like a sponge – and thus prevent flooding in heavy rain. In dry and hot weather, it releases the stored water through evaporation and the city stays cooler – a concept which falls back on the urban design of the Middle Ages, when there was no concrete.
A functioning circular economy is an important module to save valuable drinking water. So-called Gray Water is used for irrigation, cooling and sanitary areas. Model settlements, hotels and public buildings serve as case studies for such environmentally and water-friendly construction and circular economy application.
Freiburg is engaged in various international associations for the development of municipal environmental protection issues.
One very significant engagement shows through ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, founded in 1990 as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.
ICLEI is the world’s leading network of local and regional governments committed to sustainable development. ICLEI believes that local action drives global change and the leadership of local and regional governments can make a major difference in addressing complex environmental, economic and social challenges. The association was founded in Freiburg; the seat of the European Office is in the city. It is a brilliant resource for many environmental and water conservation initiatives.
In 2022, Freiburg became a member of the Blue Water Community.
“Blue Communities focus on the protection of water and free access to water as a human right. 49 communities worldwide (cities, parishes, churches, religious orders and universities) are committed to the principles.
Blue Communities understand water as a public good and support the implementation of human rights to access to clean drinking water and sanitation. They use water resources sparingly and are committed to public water supply and sanitation. They also encourage tap water to be drunk instead of bottled water and support other countries in providing a functioning public drinking water supply.
Likewise, they are also committed to maintaining and restoring natural water cycles.”
(source: press release of the city of Freiburg in German language https://www.freiburg.de/pb/1863746.html.)
In addition to the engagements above, there are numerous other initiatives by the city, and it’s society in Freiburg to protect water. In a separate article we will also report on companies and start-ups related to the topic, the commitment of the University of Freiburg and other exciting stories about the Lab of Water Legacy – the city of Freiburg.
If you plan a conference and want to apply water (or other) legacy concept, contact:
Christina Fritsch, Project Head Freiburg Convention Bureau / MICE / Netzwerk
See you in Freiburg! https://youtu.be/pO7t6P8AQM8
More Ideas and Inspiration for ESG applications for Corporate & Association conferences – please follow:
on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/ecomice/
FrauBlau/ecomice: Johanna Fischer for: Freiburg CVB, October 13, 2022