SynVer*Z – Effectiveness of research on the sustainable transformation of cities

Bicyclists in traffic

The SynVer*Z synthesis and networking project accompanies almost 50 research projects dealing with the transformation of cities towards sustainability. ISOE examines their effectiveness and supports them in the development of impact potentials.

Research approach

The research projects supported by SynVer*Z are funded by the BMBF’s “Sustainable Transformation of Urban Spaces” funding programme and the flagship initiative “Zukunftsstadt”. There is a broad range of topics including urban production, sustainable infrastructures, participatory governance, migration, dealing with extreme events (such as heavy rainfall or heat waves) and urban green spaces. The aim of SynVer*Z is to connect these projects and enable an exchange among them. SynVer*Z also wants to facilitate syntheses, the reflection on and support of positive effects and the transfer of results through communication. Different formats are used for this, such as workshops, project visits, surveys and document analyses.

In summary, SynVer*Z intends to bring together key results from the projects, to identify different transformation strategies and to analyze conditions for sustainable innovations in the municipalities. SynVer*Z organizes exchange and networking between the projects and beyond with regard to various focus and cross-cutting topics. Focus topics to be covered by several projects could be participatory governance, climate adaptation and urban resilience strategies or urban mobility and logistics. Cross-cutting topics include, for example, the importance of urban experiments and learning processes, questions of the transferability of results and their sustainability even after the end of the project, or the importance of (smart) technologies for urban planning. The topics will be specified in the course of the project and presented on the project website.

The accompanying project aims to contribute to the further development of urban research by providing an overview of all research projects. The key results are also to be prepared for local practice. To achieve its goals, SynVer*Z works in exchange with other networking projects, the office of the Innovation Platform Zukunftsstadt, the DLR project management organization and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. A peculiarity of SynVer*Z is the systematic support of communication and the transfer of results by a communication agency. At the interface between research and practice, the aim is to bring innovative and cross-project solution strategies into the municipalities in a target group oriented manner.

ISOE supports the projects in the development of impact potentials and in the ongoing assessment of effects achieved. To this end, the desired effects, procedures and impact conditions are recorded with the aid of a survey and document analyses and are then bundled into categories of different impact types. This bundling and the mutual networking of the projects within workshops help to build up potential effects. In addition, the already existing concept that is dealing with the effectiveness of research projects – as a scientific result – will be further developed.


Cities are of great importance for the transformation of society towards greater sustainability. A wide variety of aspects play a role, such as urban green areas, sustainable mobility or urban adaptation measures to extreme weather events. Each of these topics is the subject of individual in-depth scientific research. What is often lacking, however, is the networking and bundling of individual research projects and their results. SynVer*Z wants to fill this gap. This overarching perspective is necessary for recommendations that show municipalities the necessary steps towards sustainable transformation. By relating and linking the topics, it is also possible to take interactions between different measures into account. The effectiveness of the research projects that are investigated and accompanied by ISOE within the project SynVer*Z plays a crucial role in the actual implementation of the transformation towards more sustainability.


Kreß-Ludwig, Michael/Rieke Schneider/Elena Maria Troia/Oskar Marg/Alexandra Lux (2024): Grüne Finger: Produktiv. Nachhaltig. Lebendig. Grüne Finger für eine klimaresiliente Stadt.

Kreß-Ludwig, Michael/Oskar Marg/Rieke Schneider/Alexandra Lux (2024): Lessons from transdisciplinary urban research to promote sustainability transformation in real-world labs. Categories, pathways, and key principles for generating societal impact. GAIA S1, 10-17

Marg, Oskar/Rieke Schneider/Elena Maria Troia/Michael Kreß-Ludwig/Alexandra Lux (2023): Vorgehensweisen und Rahmenbedingungen zur Erzeugung gesellschaftlicher Wirkungen in transdisziplinären Forschungsprojekten. Eine vertiefende Fallstudie anhand des Projekts ClimSmartLok. Frankfurt am Main/Berlin

Marg, Oskar/Elena Maria Troia/Michael Kreß-Ludwig/Alexandra Lux (2023): MobilBericht: Verkehrsplanung am Menschen ausrichten. Sozial gerecht und ökologisch verträglich.

Libbe, Jens/Oskar Marg (2021): Urbane Reallabore und Stadtentwicklung. Erfahrungen und Perspektiven für Forschung und Praxis urbaner Transformation. Berlin/Frankfurt: SynVer*Z - Synthese- und Vernetzungsprojekt Zukunftsstadt

Libbe, Jens/Lena Bendlin/Robert Riechel/Annika Maretzki/Julia Krebs/Alexandra Lux/Oskar Marg/Michael Kreß-Ludwig/Lothar Gröschel/Nadine Baethke/Daniel Wieczorek/Lena Heller (2021): Wie leben wir morgen. Forschungsimpulse für eine nachhaltige Stadt. Berlin/Frankfurt: SynVer*Z

Marg, Oskar/Elena Maria Troia/Michael Kreß-Ludwig/Alexandra Lux (2021): Vorgehensweisen und Rahmenbedingungen zur Erzeugung gesellschaftlicher Wirkungen in transdisziplinären Forschungsprojekten. Eine vertiefende Fallstudie anhand des Projekts MobilBericht. Berlin/Frankfurt: SynVer*Z - Synthese- und Vernetzungsprojekt Zukunftsstadt

Marg, Oskar/Michael Kreß-Ludwig/Alexandra Lux (2019): Wirkungen transdisziplinärer Stadtforschung in den Projekten der Förderlinien "Leitinitiative Zukunftsstadt" und "Nachhaltige Transformation urbaner Räume". Werkstattbericht SynVer*Z.

Research and project partners

  • German Institute of Urban Affairs (Difu) (Project Coordination)
  • Gröschel Branding GmbH


The SynVer*Z synthesis and networking project is funded as part of the implementation of the flagship initiative “Zukunftsstadt” (Future City: Research for climate resilient, social-ecologically just and liveable cities) and the funding measure “Sustainable transformation of urban spaces” and is part of the funding priority Social-Ecological Research of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Phase 1: 2017/11 – 2021/03, Phase 2: 2021/04 – 2024/01


2017/11 – 2024/01