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Hybrid Conference


Aim & Topics


Programme Committee



Special Issues

26–27 NOV. 2020


"Climate neutrality: Bridging the gap between

political vision and practical reality"

Maria Vassilakou



Maria Vassilakou was born in Greece and migrated to Austria as a student in the mid-80s. She studied Linguistics and Psychology at the University of Vienna (Magister degree, 1994) and acquired 2019 an MSc degree from the London School of Economics (LSE Cities Programme).

From November 2010 until July 2019 Maria Vassilakou served as Deputy Mayor of Vienna and Executive City Councillor for Urban Planning, Traffic & Transport, Climate Protection, Energy and Public Participation. Maria Vassilakou has been Austria´s first Executive City Councilor with a migration background. She envisages Vienna as an open, modern, affordable, family friendly and diverse city. In her nine years serving as Deputy Mayor, she was responsible for a vast transformation agenda comprising numerous innovative projects.

Maria Vassilakou is currently providing her experience and know-how from leading Vienna, the world´s most livable city (e.g. Mercer Ranking 2010–2019), working as an independent adviser with cities, NGO´s and multilateral organizations worldwide to develop smart solutions for livable cities and a sustainable global urban future. In July 2019, Maria Vassilakou was appointed as member of the EU Mission Board for Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities supporting the Horizon Europe, the next EU research and innovation programme (2021–2027).


"Building Sustainable Urban-Rural Partnerships:

Co-Productive Tools for Transcending the Binary Divide"

Prof. Dr. David Simon


David Simon is Professor of Development Geography at Royal Holloway University of London, UK and was also Director of Mistra Urban Futures, Gothenburg, Sweden from September 2014 until December 2019.

As former Rhodes Scholar, he specialized in development-environment issues with particular reference to cities, climate change and sustainability. This includes the relationships between theory, policy and practice, on all of which he has published extensively. He has also worked and published on the relationships between transport/mobility and development, and geopolitical transitions. At Mistra Urban Futures, he led the pioneering methodological research on internationally comparative transdisciplinary co-production.

He is author, editor and co-editor of many books and journal special issues on cities, development-environment challenges and climate change adaptation. Recently he published “Rethinking Sustainable Cities: Accessible, green and fair” (Policy Press, 2016), “Urban Planet” (Cambridge University Press, 2018), and “Comparative Urban Research from Theory to Practice: Co-production for sustainability” (Policy Press, 2020).


"The New Leipzig Charter 2020 on the Transformative Power

of Cities for the Common Good"

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Silke Weidner



Silke Weidner studied spatial and environmental planning at Technical University Kaiserlautern. She subsequently worked as project manager in various planning projects. Back at University in 2004 she received her doctorate at the Faculty of Economics at Leipzig University and subsequently held the junior professorship "Urban Management".

Since 2009 she has been Head of the Department of Urban Management and since 2016 Head of the Institute of Urban Planning, BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg. In addition, she has been managing partner of |u|m|s| Stadtstrategien, Leipzig.

Her main interests and topics are sustainable and integrated urban development planning – also in the reference field of Europe – transformation and structural change in small cities, here especially in the city centres. She teaches, researches and works on the respective processes, actors and instruments. Recently, she has been a key advisor of the German Government in preparation of the New Leipzig Charter 2020 and revision of the Urban Agenda. The new document will be signed by the European ministers for urban and regional affairs during their Leipzig summit on 30/11 and 1/12/2020.


"Driving Urban and  Regional Transitions –

the role of science,  research and innovation"

Margit Noll


Margit Noll is Chair of the Management Board of JPI Urban Europe, which is a transnational research and innovation programme on sustainable urban development. She has been involved in the development of the JPI Urban Europe from the beginning in 2009 and is responsible for the strategic development and the implementation of the programme, comprising the development of the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda and its implementation measures, international outreach, and stakeholder involvement. She is interested in designing challenge-driven research and innovation programmes to transform European innovation systems and support urban transformation through science-policy cooperation.

Margit has 20 years' experience in research management and strategy development. Until 2016, she was also responsible for Corporate Strategy at the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology. She holds a PhD in physics and a MBA in general management. Margit is employed by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG.


"The Temptation of Urban Rural Partnerships

in Transitional European Countries"

Prof. Dr. Borislav Stojkov



Borislav Stojkov is full member of Academy of Engineering Sciences of Serbia, and of the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Geography’s Department of Spatial Planning. After graduating architecture at the University of Belgrade, he completed his doctoral degree at the University of Sarajevo. Following his specialization in the United States at MIT (SPURS) and Europe (London and Gothenburg) he brought new ideas into the practice of Serbia via published books, articles and plans.

In his work Borislav Stojkov was engaged in developing and advancing town planning and spatial planning theory and practice. He adapted ideas such as organic growth and development of cities and regions, sustainable territorial development, urban cultural identity, active public participation in planning and the concept of smart city to Serbian context.

Borislav Stojkov taught at universities in Novi Sad, Trieste, Vienna and Dresden. Besides his scientific and teaching activities, Borislav Stojkov has been in charge of coordinating and preparing more than 120 professional works in architecture, regulatory urban plans in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, national spatial plans of Serbia and Republic Srpska, regional spatial plans (City of Belgrade and AP Vojvodina).


"Research and Innovation to Address

Urban-Rural Partnerships Challenges"

Prof. Dr. Sigrun Kabisch


Sigrun Kabisch did her PhD in Urban Sociology at the Leipzig University as well as her Habilitation in Urban Geography. After years as senior researcher at Leipzig University she started her career at the new founded Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ in 1992. After her engagement in establishing the social science unit, she became Head of Department of Urban and Environmental Sociology. Additionally, she is professor of Urban Geography at the University of Leipzig.

Main research interests include the interdependencies between natural, social and built environment; spatial consequences of socio-demographic change; urban vulnerability, resilience and climate change. Her strong inter- and transdisciplinary approach is reflected in the integrated UFZ-Project "Urban Transformations: sustainable urban development towards resource efficiency, quality of life and resilience", in which she acts as responsible speaker.

Sigrun Kabisch is chair of the scientific advisory board of the Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) URBAN EUROPE. In 2018, she was appointed as member of the EU High Level Expert Group for the new Horizon 2020 Programme on “Innovating Cities”. Over years, she was member of the board of IAPS − International Association for People-Environment Studies. She is appointed member of the German Academy for Urban Development and Land Use Planning and elected member of the management board of the Centre of Competence for Large Housing Estates.

She published a number of papers and co-edited books, e.g. “Urban transformations” (2018) and “Großwohnsiedlungen im Haltbarkeitscheck” (2018).



"Research and Innovation to Address

Urban-Rural Partnerships Challenges"

Dr. Stephan Bartke


Stephan Bartke coordinates at the German Environment Agency (UBA) the scientific synthesis project of the BMBF funding measure “Stadt-Land-Plus”. He is also a research fellow at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig, where he works as synthesis manager at the BonaRes – Centre for Soil Research. Economist by training, he received a PhD on institutional economic approaches to more sustainable urban land use from the Faculty of Economics at European University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder. He has been visiting research fellow at University of Manchester, UK and assistant lecturer at several German universities, including Leipzig and Leuphana University.

Stephan Bartke has published in international applied and scientific journals, was advisor to the European Commission and has coordinated several national and international research projects aimed at facilitating sustainable land use. These include the EU funded collaboration and support action INSPIRATION – Integrated Spatial Planning and Land Use and Soil Management Research Action, in 2015–2018, which involved more than 500 European experts from 20 countries to develop a strategic research agenda for soil and land management to effectively address societal challenges. From 2011 to 2014, he coordinated the EU project TIMBRE – Tailored Improvement of Brownfield Regeneration in Europe. Stephan Bartke is member of the US-German Bilateral Working Group, funder of the expert exchange network DE-US.net and deputy-leads the technical committee “Land Recycling” within the German Association of Remediation Engineers (ITVA).


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