Urban and Population Geography working group

Analysis of Informal Dynamics in Mega Urban Areas – Based on Spatial Structure and Steering Mechanisms Focused on Water in the Pearl River Delta


Megacities as new phenomena of global urbanization processes are increasingly characterized by an unprecedented loss of governability and controllability, with the consequence that highly complex mega-urban development processes increasingly take place informally or illegally. Today's megacities are not only subject to a growing concentration of population, infrastructure, economic power and capital or an excessive acceleration of all developments, but above all to a simultaneity and overlapping of various processes with mutual feedback.

The aim of the DFG project is to use the example of the Pearl River Delta in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong to investigate the effects of global change on the development and reorganisation of socio-economic and institutional relationships and to develop theoretical and model approaches that are suitable for the general explanation of informal processes and structures in megacities. The project is carried out in cooperation with colleagues from RWTH Aachen University: Prof. Dr. Rafig Azzam, Chair of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology (project phases 1-3), and Prof. Dr. Christian L. Krause, Chair of Landscape Architecture (project phase 1).

Project phase 1 (2007-2009): Global change, in/formality, social and ecological vulnerability, urban and regional planning Guangzhou/Pearl River Delta.

Main topics Project phase 2 (2009-2011): Stress, emotions, cognitions and coping in the context of urban transformation processes, interface psychology/geography, in-/formality.

Priority topics Project phase 3 (2011-2013): resilience, risk/protection factors, glurbanization, urban governance, inter- and transdisciplinarity.


Head of Project: Prof. Dr. Rainer Wehrhahn

Research Assistant: Anna Lena Bercht

Funding: DFG-Schwerpunktprogramm 1233 "Megacities-Megachallenge – Informal Dynamics of Global Change" (Projektphasen I-III)

Period of time: 2007-2013

For central publications see staff