Late 2020, we interviewed Ms Lydie Polfer, Mayor of Luxembourg City on the role and potential of climate change adaptation in urban planning and municipal development. The interview also addressed questions on climate action in the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Interviewer: Ms Polfer, measures addressing climate change can be for climate action, such as measures decreasing hazardous emissions, or for adaptation, so measures dealing with the consequences of climate change. What role does urban and district development play in adapting to climate change?

Mayor Polfer: Climate change adaptation and also climate action are key aspects that need to be considered together when planning in urban areas. On the one hand, climate actions reduce emissions of inhabitants and businesses in a district. On the other hand, climate change adaptation helps to protects inhabitants from natural hazards resulting from climate change.

There is a wide range of possible measures for climate action in the urban environment. For example, in Luxembourg City, we focus on reducing the need for transport by creating functional mixtures in the urban pattern. We adopt circular economy approaches, enabling building material to be reused and recycled in urban construction and we favour net-zero-energy buildings. These measures all have a positive impact on the energy footprint. To reduce this footprint, sustainable transport is also important. Just to give an example, Luxembourg City is a frontrunner in electric public mobility and about 30 % of the city busses are electric as of today in 2020.

For climate change adaptation, we focus on renaturalised rivers and waterways to increase absorption of rainwater in urban areas. We test technical measures for rainwater retention in ponds or temporary reservoirs and we try to limit the amount of soil sealed in existing and newly built-up urban areas. The guiding documents for our city to address climate action and climate change adaptation are the Municipal Environmental Report and Action Plans. These annual reports and plans orient Luxembourg City measures. They help us to work towards a good and secure urban life, and an urban life in line with sustainability objectives.

Interviewer: Where do you see priorities or opportunities to use existing or new spatial planning and urban development instruments for climate change adaptation in Luxembourg?

Mayor Polfer: The City of Luxembourg uses three complementary planning instruments for climate change adaptation. The land-use plan, so-called PAG, the special development plan, the PAP, and the Municipal Building Regulation, defining requirements and technical specifications for buildings and infrastructure.

The PAG is used for zoning areas and defines density requirements and limitations to soil sealing. With the PAP and the Municipal Building Regulation, the municipality uses two more nuanced instruments. These enable our municipal planners to take decisions on the future layout of areas and the location, orientation and shape of buildings. They also detail surfaces to be kept unsealed, and even define materials to be used. Also, we look to optimise the number of parking spaces to keep areas open that are usually sealed. This way, we integrate various elements in our plans to ensure that transformations and new developments are adapted to climate change. And of course, for climate action, these tools work equally well.

We conduct many experiments in urban planning practices and we research experimental building techniques. This leads to a high number of innovations in the building sector, especially in view of climate change. An example is the use of grey water, or rainwater in large residential buildings or greening roofs, for which new concepts are being tested. To benefit from the latest innovations, we need measures that allow us to design the district differently. Faster procedures and increased openness of projects towards new insights and concepts on climate action and adaptation in planning is required.

Interviewer: What potential for climate change adaption is there from converting urban brownfields?

Mayor Polfer: In conversion or re-conversion projects, for example ‘Porte de Hollerich’ or the 10 hectare area of ‘Josy-Barthel’, planners have a free hand. When we develop a district from scratch, we face fewer limitations. We also need to compromise less when it comes to implementing climate change adaptation measures. For example, a river can take its natural course again, an inundation area can fulfil its initial function. It also provides us with unique opportunities to design park areas as both zones helping to adapt the city to climate change and also as recreation areas for inhabitants of the districts.

Planning on unbuilt land also allows us to develop a priori climate change adaptation and action concepts that guide urban design and the layout. This way, the best option, yielding the best protection or adaptation can be planned and tested before being realised. We look at such concepts not just at the neighbourhood level but also for the district. Hence these new urban developments are key to increasing the resilience of our city, as changes to existing urban districts are limited for various reasons.

However, the question of ownership significantly influences climate change adaptation measures in such urban projects. Unless all land is owned by the City of Luxembourg, we rely on a consensus between all owners on what climate change adaptation measures will be implemented. If an owner does not approve, the procedure is postponed, or the plans have to be amended, compromising on the planned adaptation measures.

Interviewer: How can one combine the persistently high pressure on the housing market with measures of climate change adaptation, in your opinion?

Mayor Polfer: High pressure on the housing market and climate change adaption are not mutually exclusive. In a way, planning in cities is already an adaptation and a climate action measure. Let’s take the example of the City of Luxembourg. Luxembourg City accounts for about 2 % of the national territory and of this 2 % half are green areas, so forests, grassland, pastures or farmland. At the same time, about 20 % of the country’s population lives on the other 1 % and about 40 % of the national workplaces are located in the City of Luxembourg.

This results in density that offers proximity to daily activities such as workplaces or grocery shops, for inhabitants, reducing the need for transport. This helps us to offer much more targeted and effective measures.

The City of Luxembourg population has increased by more than 30 % during the past 10 years. This very high pressure is a challenge to urban planning in many ways. Increasing traffic, increasing pressure on the housing market, increasing pressure on public services, and so on. But despite this pressure, we have managed to make progress in achieving our environmental objectives, defined in the Municipal Environmental Report and Action Plans. This applies to the climate action measures, so to lower energy consumption or less municipal waste. This also applies to the adaptation measures, including the implementation of natural water retention systems or unsealing soil.

Of course, this does not come easily: when planning urban districts, we integrate environmental aspects in the conception plans from the very beginning. Therefore, it is important that the objectives and measures are clearly defined. This way, urban development and other urban functions can incorporate and work on environmental protection and climate change adaptation.

Mayor Lydie Polfer. Copyright: Maison Moderne – LaLa La Photo.

Interviewer: What is the role of the CIPU for climate change adaptation in Luxembourg?

Mayor Polfer: Urban development and planning is a complex and interrelated matter. When we develop plans, we usually touch on a variety of inter-connected disciplines, requiring us to work with various constrains and limitations. Sometimes urban planning meets disapproval from inhabitants and experts in related fields. Climate action and adaptation measures especially require planners to plan in a way that does not appear logical to the outside viewer.

CIPU should enhance mutual understanding and coordination between different policy fields, between planners and also between planners and inhabitants. This way, CIPU could be a mediator in the framework of urban development and for this year, focusing on climate change adaptation.

Interviewer: Thank you very much Mayor Polfer for the interview.

In case of questions or comments, please feel free to contact the editor (sebastian.hans@spatialforesight.eu) of this article.

Wiltz is a city in the north of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The city is the only urban centre with more than 7 000 inhabitants in the sparsely populated north and is therefore classified as a national centre of attraction. Until 2030, the municipality and the state would like to see an increase of population to reinforce the city’s position as ‘capital of the north’. One step in this is a master plan for developing a 25.5 hectare district in the city centre, called ‘Wunne mat der Wooltz’.

Rationale for action

The area covered by the master plan lies between Oberwiltz and Niederwiltz and was an industrial area with many factories. The area experienced a downturn when structural changes decreased the demand for industrial goods. Already in 1996 the municipality has identified the need to develop this district next to the city centre.

The master plan shall help developing Wiltz as the capital of the North by attracting more inhabitants and jobs. This is in line with the decentralisation objectives and the ‘CAP 2030’ integrative development plan for the municipality of Wiltz (‘plan integratif du développement de la commune de Wiltz’) for the municipality and the northern region.

The plan is to merge the former districts of in der Geetz, Lambert/Baumaself and Eurofloor. The new district will support the regional development targets for 2030 to make the city more attractive for residents and businesses.

Model of the future district ‘Wunne mat der Wooltz’. Source: Fondsdulogement.lu

Objective

The plan envisages creating 1 000 new residential units in the new district. This will provide housing for 2 000 additional inhabitants and about 550 new jobs will be created in the new district. The 25.5 hectare project is a classic conversion as the site was previously industrial.

The new residential area will be integrated into the existing urban fabric. New green public spaces and public functions (i.e. schools) will not only be used by new residents. They shall also become points of attraction for the inhabitants of the surrounding districts. Additionally, the area will connect two neighbourhoods previously separated by the industrial site.

Time frame

The technical feasibility study was conducted between 2010 and 2011. The master plan was developed from 2013 to 2017 and construction started in 2018. The district will be finalised until 2030.

Implementation steps and processes

Since 1996, the municipality of Wiltz has underlined the potential to transform an der Wooltz into a new residential district. However, the city did not have the financial means to realise an independent development. In 2010, the state reviewed the city’s plan and contracted a technical preparatory study as well as an urban management plan as input for the local land-use plan. In the meantime, a concept for de-pollution was elaborated. From 2013 to 2017, a master plan detailing the construction was created with the cooperation of 19 public partners. The first civil works, namely tearing down the factory buildings and de-polluting the soil ran from 2014 to 2015. With the finalisation of the master plan in 2017, the planning stage was completed and the concept was presented to the public.

Development involved 19 public actors working closely together. The master plan is thus a result of thorough cooperation between different public representatives and fields of expertise (housing, environmental protection, commerce, etc.).

Model of the future district ‘Wunne mat der Wooltz’, view towards East. Source: Fondsdulogement.lu

Required resources

The costs amounted to EUR 2 300 000 for planning, demolition and de-pollution of the former industrial area.

Results

The planning and the preparatory works have been completed. Construction however will only start after the approval of the PAP (specific land use plans), which act as building permits. They were submitted for approval in late 2017 and approved in 2018. Since then, construction for developing the new district started.

Construction and assignment of units will be organised through Fonds du Logement, a public developer, guaranteeing a social mix of residents in the new district. Housing will be assigned conditional on low household income, or the number of children.

Experiences, success factors, risks

With units for 1 800 inhabitants, the city will be able to increase its population by 30%. The district does not only target residents currently living outside of the municipality. Key to success is to encourage also current residents to move to the new district, for instance by making the new housing units more attractive and comfortable than those currently available in the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Model of the future district ‘Wunne mat der Wooltz’, view towards West. Source: Fondsdulogement.lu

Conclusions

Pressure on housing in Wiltz is less strong than in central or southern Luxembourg. Within the city and surrounding villages, the urban fabric could still absorb more new residents. The example of Wunne mat der Wooltz must be seen against very positive demographic and economic forecasts for the country in the upcoming years. At the same time, the government is pursuing a decentralisation policy, making regional centres more attractive. A significant increase in population and businesses in regional centres such as Wiltz, is envisaged.

The example follows the tradition of planning flagship projects in Luxembourg. Compared to other available areas in villages and cities, conversions could be a more general instrument of spatial planning and territorial development. So far, these urban developments are still exceptions not least because they are large and require significant finance. Providing a toolbox to municipalities could also give local administrations the opportunity to implement smaller conversion projects independently from the state. Collaboration across different levels in a small country such as Luxembourg risks local interests being strongly influenced by state objectives.

Model of the future southern district of the development ‘Wunne mat der Wooltz’. Source: Fondsdulogement.lu

Contact

Wiltz City Management: citymanagement@wiltz.lu

The urban development ‘am Duerf’ was inaugurated in 2017 to revive and increase the
attractiveness of an area next to Dudelange city centre. Development of housing, parking and commercial areas in an area previously used as open-air parking started in 2005. The
municipality of Dudelange has developed an adjacent shared space to create a lively urban area.

Rationale for action

‘am Duerf’ and development of the adjacent shared space was planned next to Dudelange city centre. The area was previously used as open-air parking and backyard gardens. The
transformation also helps the city to tackle the increasing housing need.

Tackling the housing shortage is a key priority on the political agenda in Luxembourg. By
constructing more housing units, the shortage of living space can be reduced and prices could drop. Some 13 000 new residents settle each year in Luxembourg overall, exceeding the annual supply of living space.

Larger cities, being the main centres of attraction, play an important role in accommodation. Housing developments within existing settlement structures and urban fabric can limit urban sprawl. Also, housing developments within urban centres provide the potential for densification and the development of vacant lots.

The project ‘am Duerf’ is also an attempt to counter the movement of urban functions to the periphery. By developing commercial functions, parking and housing in their centres, cities remain attractive. Restoration of public spaces also increases their attractiveness.

Central square of the project. Source: ondiraitlesud.lu

Objective

The ‘am Duerf’ project was designed to create an attractive new urban centre with parking, commerce and living spaces. Through these functions and the shared space, the amenities are not only for residents but also for inhabitants of surrounding areas.

The shared space was designed to overcome divisions between different modes of transport that could be troublesome. It combines pathways of individual, common and soft transport in a common zone with a focus on soft and public modes of transport. Breaking the divisions between different modes of transport increases the quality of the public space.

Time frame

The development ‘am Duerf’ was inaugurated in 2017. Building works to create the district started in 2014, the development of the shared space was started in 2016.

Key players

The key players are the City of Dudelange, with the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry Energy and Spatial Planning in supporting functions. The district was planned by the architect and urbanism bureau STEINMETZDEMEYER from Luxembourg. Private developers implemented the project.

Architecture of the project. Source: ondiraitlesud.lu

Implementation steps and processes

The site of ‘am Duerf’ was owned by a private real estate developer who was also the project developer. Implementation began in 2005, when the idea came up to increase the city centre’s attractiveness by developing the area. An architectural competition was held in 2006. Development of the shared space is in three phases with the last due to be finalised in 2020.

Required resources

The total amount of urban development is unknown. The resources required to develop the shared space was EUR 3.5 million and the project was co-financed by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) through an Integrated Territorial Investment project for nearly EUR 1 million.

Results

The project ‘am Duerf’ resulted in three multi-functional buildings. Public spaces in between are used as crossroads for residents and inhabitants of the surrounding districts. A total of 104 apartments include studios, one to three bedroom-, two-story- and penthouse-apartments. Two apartments are rented as social housing. All units were built using state of the art principles to ensure maximum living quality and sustainability.

The design of ‘am Duerf’ places functionalities within the district on different levels. The
parking floor in the basement provides about 180 parking places very close to the city centre, as well as public and soft modes of transport. These are 70 more places than before, when the area was used as open-air parking. The ground floors provide 4 400 m2 of new commercial surfaces for a supermarket, hairdressers, cafés and more. Floors one to four are dedicated to apartments.

The adjacent shared space integrates this new district into the existing urban pattern. With
fewer barriers separating pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles, it invites interaction across streets, bridging barriers between old structures and new developments. The development has created a new public space in the centre of Dudelange using contemporary architecture and modern urban development planning.

Experiences, success factors, risks

Integrated planning enabled several functions to be combined in the new district including
new residences for new and former inhabitants as well as commercial surfaces. The preceding function of parking could even be extended. The vertical division of functions in the new district into parking, public space/commercial and residential areas help improving urban life and attractiveness. Separating functions on different floors allows their full development without getting in each other’s way. At the same time, the shared space enables a functional mix and social interaction that enlivens the district.

Conclusions

‘am Duerf’ and the shared space in Dudelange is an innovative urban development project. Following state of the art planning principles and modern urban architecture, the project improves the quality of life within and around the new district. This has led to a revival of the city centre, not least because of modern architecture and urban planning. In conclusion, ‘am Duerf’ and the shared space have contributed to changing the image of Dudelange’s city centre.

Contact

If you wish to receive further information, please contact Ms Eva Gottschalk, municipality of Dudelange: Eva.Gottschalk@dudelange.lu

Last Friday, the online conference “The territorial impacts of the health crisis linked to COVID-19″ within the framework of the urban-architectural and landscape consultation “Luxembourg in transition” was held. The high-level conference was organised by the National Information Unit for Urban Policy (CIPU) in cooperation with the Order of Architects and Consulting Engineers (OAI) and the Luxembourg Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning.

During the afternoon, experts and stakeholders presented and debated territorial consequences of the pandemic on Luxembourg:

  • How will remote working develop?
  • What does the pandemic show in terms of resilience of Luxembourg and the Greater Region as a whole?
  • What does the pandemic signify for the many cross-border relations between Luxembourg and its surroundings?
  • What social consequences are to be expected and what’s the impact of the pandemic on the societal cohesion within the country?
  • ….

Many more questions were addressed from various different angles, be it the national ministry, from the point of view of Luxembourg municipalities, the advisory social council, from planners and architects and more. A recording of the conference with an English translation has been made available here:

The discussion quick came to the conclusion that increased occurrence of remote working is only one of the many consequences of the pandemic. The pandemic has impacted far more elements in Luxembourg: transport and mobility, public finance and social cohesion, just to name a few. Additionally, the border closures have also strongly impacted the perception of national borders of Luxembourg residents.

All these changes result in behavioral adaptations of persons living and working in the country. Not all of these changes will likely disappear after the pandemic: the booming of online shops and the consequences for inner city commerce, the increased shift towards remote working post-COVID and more will potentially stay. Legislative adjustments pave the way to more lasting changes, for example the adapted double-taxation agreements between Luxembourg and the neighbouring country, allowing for extended periods of home office from a foreign country.

Such long-term changes will also manifest in territorial consequences, be it in a changing mobility behaviour, decentralisation of workplaces or a stronger focus on family and relatives. And also future recovery measures will have, depending on their design, territorially different impacts across Luxembourg and the Greater Region.

Word cloud on the significance of topics for territorial development post-COVID

In conclusion, the key-note speakers and attendees of the conference highlighted that the pandemic will likely increases social and economic inequalities. This can be observed at different scales, both within the country and between Luxembourg and its neighbours. Depending on the design of recovery measures, these inequalities can either be reinforced or softened.

Post-COVID recovery measures can thus have great leverage: if conceived intelligently, policy measures can contribute to induce long-expected changes to the way we live and work. In this regard, the pandemic does not only present a challenge but also an opportunity.

For example for combatting the climate crisis, our established societal systems and the way we live and work needs to undergo structural changes. To reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the changing climate, we need to act more in line with sustainability objectives, which has long been advocated. The pandemic has shown that once the right incentives are in sight, societies can swiftly adjust, and they are also capable to recover from external shocks.

However, there’s no blueprint on how to master the transition. Knowing that measures have different impacts at local, national and cross-border level, policy-makers need to test policies and embrace for some decisions a ‘trial and error’ approach. One way to reduce uncertainty is to build policies more strongly on local knowledge through participation processes.

The upcoming years will allow to assess the success of Luxembourg and European measures to combat the impact of the pandemic. They will also show which of the changes have survived and also what lessons we have drawn from the current situation.

In order to provide an overview on the numerous territorial impacts, CIPU drafted an input paper during December 2020 as preparation for the conference (in French). The input paper can be downloaded here.

On the 22nd of September 2020, CIPU organised a visit to ‘Elmen’, the largest affordable housing project in Luxembourg. The district is developed adjacent to the municipality of Kehlen in the West of Luxembourg (see here and map at the bottom).

A 3D model of the houses being realised in ‘Elmen’. Source: S.N.H.B.M., 2020.

Elmen is developed by one of the public housing agencies of the country S.N.H.B.M. (Société Nationale des Habitations à Bon Marché, French for: National society for affordable housing). S.N.H.B.M. is a publicly owned institution which has been entrusted with the task of creating affordable housing throughout the country. It is one of the largest providers of affordable housing together with ‘Fonds du Logement’.

The projects realised by the two agencies differ in size and typology: some projects are comparably small and are constructed in the framework of renovating a building in a rural village centre. Some other projects are green- and brownfield developments and hence are larger in size (‘Fonds du Logement’ projects, S.N.H.B.M. projects). The affordable housing units created are either sold for a subsidised price or leased to tenants that are eligible to receive an affordable housing unit

All of the planned 750 – 800 units in Elmen will be sold as affordable housing units. Altogether, the planned apartment buildings and houses will be able to accommodate about 2,000 new residents. Households or persons that want to purchase a unit in Elmen need to fulfil a set of criteria. As an example, interested buyers have a higher chance of receiving a unit if they are a family with children already residing in the municipality of Kehlen with a household income below a certain threshold.

House alignment and street width in Elmen. Source: CIPU, 2020.

In order to use the 27 hectares greenfield as effectively as possible, Elmen was planned with a high population density. This contrasts the existing residential district in Kehlen. Once finalised, Elmen will feature a theoretical population density of 7,400 inhabitants per square kilometres which is rather high for a rural area of Luxembourg. To make the high density work and to create a nearly zero-energy and affordable housing district, architects and planners had to apply some non-standard but innovative approaches in the design of the district and buildings:

  1. Parking is organised centrally in car parks: this saves space and allows to limit street surfaces.
  2. Houses and residences are facing away from one another: this allows every homeowner to benefit from a small garden and some privacy.
  3. Wood is the primary construction material for houses: nine different typologies of individual houses are built, all from glued solid wood boards. During the planning, an emphasis was put on standardisation of building blocks, to allow for large-scale production and to limit costs.
  4. Houses will produce 50 % of the energy they consume: photovoltaic, heat-air pumps and a district heating and cooling network allow to reduce energy consumption of the district.
Entrance to one of the finalised single family houses. Source: CIPU, 2020.

The first set single-family houses have already been constructed. All single—family houses are spacious and well-equipped providing at least three bedrooms, an office, a living room, a kitchen and a small private garden.

To familiarise planners and architects with the project and the design choices, CIPU (National Information Unit for urban Policy) organised a guided tour through Elmen in autumn 2020. About 20 professionals from the sector participated in the tour and were given the chance to get to know the district as well as some of the already realised houses.

The density of the area is impressive; at first sight, houses are very close together, creating the impression of providing little private space. On second glance, this illusion crumbles: the houses are placed in a way that windows and exits do not face one another and gardens are seldom in view of the windows of a neighbouring house. This creates some private spaces for residents.

Private gardens in Elmen. Source: CIPU, 2020.

The centralised parking has enabled planners to reduce street width. Only access roads to the centralised car parks and the stations for public transport feature regular street width of more than four metres. All residential roads are much narrower so that a car can pass in one direction only. This renders the road network more pedestrian friendly. After all, roads in Elmen are not just intended for private transport but as places to meet for neighbours and residents.

Building alignment in the Elmen district. Source: CIPU, 2020.

And despite the high density, the area does not feel like an inner-city district. In Elmen, the urban environment conveys the impression to visitors to roam through a village-centre. For example, the building height of single-family units are limited to two stories, the apartment buildings don’t exceed three stories in height. Most windows and doors face the streets, allowing for social control. Additionally, all houses and small gardens are directly accessible from the street, leading to the fusion of private and public space.

So far about 10 houses were finalised and are used to promote sales of the upcoming housing units (about 740 to 790 units will be constructed). Elmen will be realised stepwise in three separate lots and will also provide a central supermarket as well as a primary school.

For more information about the concept of Elmen make sure to read our project sheet which can be accessed under the following link. Further information and a few more pictures are provided on the website of the project.

Location of the Elmen district within the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The yellow borders show the limits of lot 01. Source: CIPU, 2020.

In case of questions or comments, please feel free to contact the editor (sebastian.hans@spatialforesight.eu) of this article.

 

As first contribution to the CIPU Blog, Claude Turmes, Luxembourg Minister for Energy and Spatial Planning has been interviewed on the role of spatial and urban planning on climate change adaptation in Luxembourg.

Interviewer: Minister Turmes, climate change is an important topic in Luxembourg. Two of the instruments to address climate change are spatial planning and urban policy, falling into your area of competence, providing different opportunities and approaches to address consequences. What role should spatial planning and urban development play in adapting to climate change?

Minister Turmes: Climate change is a crosscutting issue that concerns almost all sectors and has a strong territorial dimension. Spatial planning can deal with the territorial dimension of climate change by adopting an integrated approach that takes into account the demands of different sector policies, such as environmental protection, mobility and local economic development. As the adaptation to climate change requires compromises, spatial planning can function as a platform for the coordination of and mediation between different sector policies. The National Information Unit for Urban Policy (Cellule nationale d’Information pour la Politique Urbaine, CIPU) and the so-called “convention areas” (referring to conventions of territorial co-operation between the State and municipalities) can function as such a platform.

Cities are at the forefront of the climate crisis. Cities – through the density of the built environment, the high degree of sealed surfaces and the low degree of green areas – are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change (e.g. urban heat island effect, drought and flooding), but they are also major contributors to climate change by producing more than 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions. And while cities are part of the problem, they are also part of the solution. Around the world, cities are leading the action to tackle climate change and drive the innovation to deal with its impacts. This is also the case here in Luxembourg. In the context of the horticultural show LUGA (Luxembourg Urban Garden) in 2023, the City of Luxembourg will have the opportunity to present its innovative urban greening projects to a wider audience.

The development dynamic of cities in Luxembourg will further exacerbate the consequences of climate change, which means that our national approach to urban development itself will have to adapt. Climate change adaptation has to be integrated into the way in which our cities are planned as well as built. Climate-friendly construction, in line with the principles of “eco-urbanism”, will not only increase the resilience of cities, but also the quality of life of citizens.

Interviewer: Where do you see priorities or opportunities to use existing or new spatial planning and urban development instruments for climate change adaptation in Luxembourg?

Minister Turmes: The focus clearly lies on reducing global CO2 emissions. Actually, two thirds of urban emissions come from motorised transport. Above all short distances and energy-efficient construction methods in urban areas can counteract this situation. Generally speaking, it is important to carefully assess the situation in cities and regions in order to find meaningful and appropriate answers to the requirements of climate protection and the necessities of climate adaptation. In Luxembourg, climate change is already clearly seen as an interdisciplinary topic: Not only has the Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning itself, but also a number of other departments, addressed spatially relevant topics relating to climate protection and adaptation. The Master Programme for Spatial Planning will incorporate climate adaptation guidelines regarding the three agglomeration areas of Luxembourg – the Southern Region, the Nordstad and the so-called “Centre” – with a development horizon of 2035. The goal is the sustainable development of urban regions. This aim also applies to other instruments, such as the Pacte Climat or the Interreg funding programmes. Furthermore, the Ministry of Energy and Spatial Planning is currently working with a planning office specialised in sustainable development on a reference guide concerning “eco-urbanism”, which will present strategies for incorporating climate change adaptation into urban planning.

The spatial planning instruments are particularly effective in the case of new building projects or land provision. However, many climate protection and adaptation measures also take place in existing districts. Regarding existing districts, the different funding programmes are particularly interesting. The CLEVER funding programmes of the Government subsidise up to 50% of the total costs of sustainable projects, such as the installation of solar cells.

If climate adaptation in cities is to become a success, we have to effectively steer sector policies in order to coordinate the implementation of measures. We have undoubtedly reached a point at which specific measures have to be implemented immediately, without falling into a silo mentality. Ultimately, spatial planning plays a central role in this regard, particularly in the framework of a monitoring system for reviewing the effectiveness of our measures and strategies.

Minister Turmes speaking at the CIPU Info Day in December 2019. Source: Patty Neu, 2019.

Interviewer: What role should innovative energy concepts play in climate-friendly urban development?

Minister Turmes: Innovative energy concepts should definitely play a paramount role in climate-friendly urban development. Climate-friendly energy concepts must become the norm, particularly in the case of new building projects where it is important to back these innovative concepts based on renewable energy from the beginning. We should also consider the possibility to integrate so-called “smart grids”. The advantage of this system is that it can store excess green electricity. This type of energy storage is particularly useful in a climate-friendly city of short distances. Nowadays conventional energy sources should only be regarded as an alternative. This is on what our awareness-raising activities should focus.

The reference guide concerning “eco-urbanism” will also highlight strategies for sustainable urban development with zero emissions. In this process, it is important that strategies for climate change adaptation take into account the spatial and socio-economic context. There are already some municipalities who back energy-efficient pilot projects, such as Remich with the Interreg Greater Region project EnergiewabenGR on so-called “energy combs”. I hope that in the near future more municipalities will dare to tackle pilot projects. The capacity of a region, city or municipality to implement an innovative energy concept does certainly depend on resources and expertise, but primarily on political willingness.

Interviewer: What role does the regional integration of Luxembourg into the supraregional planning context (e.g. the so-called ‘Greater Region’) play for you in terms of adaptation to climate change and climate protection (e.g. the process “Luxembourg in Transition“)?

Minister Turmes: Climate change does not recognise national borders and Luxembourg is not an island. Luxembourg is firmly anchored in the Greater Region as a cross-border polycentric metropolitan region. The functional linkages between Luxembourg and its neighbours in the areas of employment, mobility and housing are so strong that spatial planning in Luxembourg has to take the cross-border dimension of climate change adaptation into account. Both the Spatial Development Concept of the Greater Region (Schéma de développement territorial de la Grande Région) and the international consultation “Luxembourg in Transition” work with this reality and seek, together with partners from the neighbouring countries, solutions at the cross-border level.

We also have to look beyond the Greater Region and work with our partners in North-West Europe. For instance, the Interreg NWE project GROOF – with partners in Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – aims at reducing CO2 emissions in the construction and agriculture sectors by facilitating the emergence of rooftop greenhouses as a tool to recover the heat and CO2 of buildings. The Luxembourgish project partner “IFSB” (Institut de Formation Sectoriel du Bâtiment) is investing in a rooftop greenhouse pilot in Bettembourg. Knowledge transfer beyond the project has been initiated by coaching the housing cooperative “Adhoc habitat participative” in the City of Luxembourg.

Interviewer: What is the role of the CIPU for climate change adaptation in Luxembourg?

Minister Turmes: The National Information Unit for Urban Policy (Cellule nationale d’Information pour la Politique Urbaine, CIPU) stands for a collaborative partnership between the State and cities. The objective is for the State and cities to work together on common problems, such as the adaptation to climate change, and develop practical solutions in the area of urban development. The CIPU thereby functions as a public forum for the discussion of ideas and the exchange of experiences between the State, cities, nongovernmental organisations and professionals.

The CIPU can facilitate the establishment of a high-quality urbanism that respects the principles of zero emission and zero waste in Luxembourg.

The CIPU can also contribute to capacity building in cities by offering learning and training through webinars, providing tailor-made knowledge input for workshops and support its partners in the submission of project proposals in the framework of European programmes.

One of the objectives of the CIPU is to create a two-way connection between the European level on one side and the national as well as municipal level on the other side. This means that, on the one hand, the CIPU presents examples and projects from all over Europe to stimulate the transfer of good practices in Luxembourgish cities. On the other hand, the role of the CIPU is to upload good practice examples from Luxembourgish cities to the policy debate at the European level and promote them in European forums.

Interviewer: Thank you very much Minister Turmes for these answers.

In case of questions or comments, please feel free to contact the editor (sebastian.hans@spatialforesight.eu) of this article.