A warm welcome!

We’re glad you’re interested in the 17th Federal Congress on National Urban Development Policy, happening on September 17-18, 2024, at the newly opened Heidelberg Congress Center (HCC).

The theme is “Collaborations in Urban Development – Alliances for the Common Good.” Please mark your calendars.

The detailed congress programme and the possibility to register are expected to be published in July.

Heidelberg is offering a limited number of hotel rooms at special rates for attendees, available until early to mid-August.

Alternatively, you can book accommodations through Heidelberg Marketing or other booking platforms.

Here at the Congress, we take sustainability very seriously; please help us achieve our goals – for example, by travelling by train. It’s sustainable and relaxing!

For climate-friendly travel, we have arranged a DB event ticket at a nationwide fixed price in cooperation with Deutsche Bahn. From any DB station to the congress, with a City-Ticket included.

A recap of the last congress’s programme in Jena is available in the media library and the video hereunder.

Event location

Czernyring 20, 69115 Heidelberg


Space as Performance

The newly inaugurated Heidelberg Congress Center (HCC) in April 2024 is the chosen venue for the 17th Federal Congress. It stands as a beacon of innovation with its visionary architecture, openness, cutting-edge event technology, and sustainability awarded with gold.

The design offers immense freedom across three levels, featuring a 6,600 square meter space for dialogue and a flexible room concept, including a brightly lit main hall for up to 1,800 people, adorned with the world’s third-largest LED wall, another versatile hall for 800, 10 meeting spaces, a 2,600 square meter foyer, and a Sky Forum with seating.

A highlight is its own TV studio for live streaming, recording, and video production. The HCC aims to foster opportunities, relationships, creative teamwork, enjoyment, and a space for constructive exchange.

Central location

The Heidelberg Congress Center boasts a prime location, being just about a minute’s walk from the main train station, in the vibrant and sustainable district of Bahnstadt.

It offers excellent accessibility with direct connections to public transport and highways, and features a two-level underground parking garage with 70 car charging stations and space for 115 bicycles, including 50 charging stations.

Open with Google-Maps


(As of: 11 July 2024 / subject to change)

17 September 2024

From 10:00 a.m.
Admission and accreditation for the Federal Congress opens

11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Framework programme/Side events
A range of events by partners of the Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building and the National Urban Development Policy

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Framework programme/Side events

How can we involve urban creators in developing and implementing climate change concepts? How can we develop successful local circular economies? Along with guests from politics and administration, the Urbane Liga association will discuss measures for the climate-resilient development of communes that have proved themselves a success across Germany.

How can we convert and repurpose our existing buildings in a way that is both affordable and for the long term? The symposium will tackle this question using examples of best practice from the Deutscher Bauherrenpreis (German Construction Prize). This prize, which has been awarded for more than three decades under the motto “High quality at an affordable price”, is one of the most prestigious prizes in residential construction in Germany.

The Kleinstadtakademie initiative was set up in July 2024 with the aim of becoming a national sharing and exchange platform as well as a network of towns and town stakeholders for urban development topics. The ultimate objective is to create a completely new kind of self-effective support structure by towns for towns.

Co-productions such as Immovielien, urban creator projects and third spaces can act as powerful stimuli for local democracy, particularly in this day and age. What makes them successful? Which collaborations and tools do they require? What are the important next steps? We find out in conversation with representatives from civil society, intermediaries, administration and politics.

Resource efficiency is key in redeveloping existing urban districts and developing new ones. This fringe event will present and discuss integrated governance approaches as well as digital and technical innovations. It will also provide insights into the new DIN SPEC 91468 “Guideline for resource-efficient urban districts” and the initial implementations in municipal practice.

Triple inner urban development is still evolving as a guiding principle for planning, so this side event will help to stimulate greater understanding and further discourse. How should “triple inner urban development” be interpreted in the context of urban and regional development that is environmentally sound, socially equitable and beneficial to health? And how can this guiding principle be implemented in theory and in practice?

In this side event, we will demonstrate how cooperation in urban development operates in an international context. Under the umbrella of the international BMWSB city networks, we will start with thematic keynote speeches in the form of pecha kucha presentations from South Africa, Ukraine and the USA. We will then use an interactive fishbowl discussion to examine the themes in more detail and allow more participants to engage in the dialogue. Take the opportunity to network with international professional colleagues from towns, cities, associations and ministries.

2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Framework programme/Side events

As our cities become more dense and in view of climate change and settlement pressure, greenery needs to move up the list of priorities. Six experimental housing and urban development (ExWoSt) pilot schemes have tested out how expanding blue-green infrastructure can improve quality of life and strengthen resilience in conjunction with urban society and businesses.

The energy and heating transition must be part of integrated, resilient urban development and of environmentally friendly urban redevelopment. So, how can the energy and heating transition actually succeed as part of the transformation to climate-friendly districts? How does communal heating planning reach the district and its inhabitants? This huge transformation process requires precise control, support and development, as well as the cooperation of all stakeholders; from communes and their municipal utilities to the property and housing industry and all individual owners. We want to discuss how to get from the concept phase to implementation at district level.

Further information will follow.

The collaborative project “Loneliness. New requirements for lively neighbourhoods” by the Wüstenrot Foundation with location3 and Urban Expert explores practice-oriented initiatives that help districts to combat loneliness. What does loneliness mean and what are the risk factors? How can we identify districts at risk of loneliness? How can local involvement on the ground, along with professional services within the district, help to cushion people against feeling lonely? What opportunity structures in the neighbourhood create districts that are resilient against loneliness? What cornerstones can be identified for an integrated approach in overcoming and preventing loneliness at district level?

How are the possibilities created by new technology impacting planning culture? In conversation with experts, we will explore the possibilities, risks and limits of this utilisation and discuss how to approach issues such as increasing regulation and governance. After all, who is compiling the content and, ultimately, bearing the responsibility?

Further information will follow.

Funding integrated urban development measures with the help of the EU Structural Funds offers important financial and strategic support for many communes in Germany. This event will be an opportunity to hold an informative debate to explore the experiences and perspectives of German cities, towns and municipalities in dealing with the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This discussion will present specific case studies that demonstrate how EU funding has already helped to implement innovative urban development projects. From modernising the infrastructure through to fostering social cohesion and engagement, we will explore the successes and challenges of these projects for illustrative purposes. As well as acknowledging the milestones already achieved, the discussion will also take a critical look at how the EU funding could be organised and optimised in the coming funding periods.

4:00 – 4:45 p.m.
Framework programme/Side events

Following on from the side event “Using European funding for integrated urban development”, the same room will host an informal discussion with the URBACT secretariat on the topic “Ideas for how European towns and cities can work together”. In terms of topic, this discussion links to the previous fringe event and takes a more in-depth look at one aspect of European funding for integrated urban development, namely funding European towns and cities to work together as a policy tool. An interactive workshop will bring together and explore new ideas and approaches in an open discussion. URBACT will capture the results as part of the INTERREG consultation on future cohesion policy and channel them into the European debate. Come and join in!

5:00 – 7:45 p.m.
Congress programme
Overall moderation: Anja Heyde

5:00 p.m.
Welcome/introduction: “Cooperation in Urban Development”
Klara Geywitz, Federal Minister for Housing, Urban Development and Building

5:10 p.m.
Welcome from the city of Heidelberg
Prof. Eckart Würzner, Lord Mayor of the City of Heidelberg

5:20 p.m.
Keynote followed by discussion
Maria Vassilakou, Vienna Solutions, former Vice Mayor of Vienna and independent advisor on urban transformation

5:50 p.m.
Luyanda Mpahlwa, DesignSpaceAfrica, African Centre for Cities (ACC), Adjunct Prof, University of Cape Town UCT, Cape Town, South Africa

6:05 p.m.
Welcome from the state of Baden-Württemberg
Winfried Kretschmann, Minister-President of the state of Baden-Württemberg

6:15 p.m.
Discussion on urban development & policy

Discussion led by: Anja Heyde, moderator

7:15 p.m.
Panel: Principles of feminist urban development policy

Discussion led by: Anja Heyde, moderator

7:45 p.m.
Evening reception by the City of Heidelberg at the Heidelberg Congress Center

18 September 2024

Overall moderation: Anja Heyde

From 09:00 a.m.
Admission and registration

10:00 a.m.
Opening and welcome to the conversation
Moderator Anja Heyde in conversation with Elisabeth Kaiser, Member of the Bundestag, Parliamentary Secretary to the Federal Minister for Housing, Urban Development and Building

10:10 a.m.
Ida Bigum Nielsen, Head of the Strategic Planning Team, Gehl Architects, Copenhagen

10:40 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Parallel future-focussed breakout areas: working formats with brief idea sharing, practical examples and discussions among participants (some as excursions)

Moderator Anja Heyde will start with an overview of the breakout sessions and give organisational instructions (finishing no later than 11:00 a.m.). 

11:00 a.m.
Start of future-focussed breakout areas

Some of the breakout areas will be held at the Heidelberg Congress Center (HCC), while others are excursions to external locations. If the excursion destinations are not accessible via public transport or on foot, then coaches will be provided. Space on-site and logistics mean that participant numbers will be restricted for some external breakout areas/excursions. Please follow the instructions for each breakout area. We kindly ask for binding registration and participation.

We are experiencing a paradigm shift in planning and building culture towards prioritising the preservation, valorisation, conversion, further construction and, where preservation does not make sense, recycling. In the breakout session, urban development approaches to remodelling will be reflected upon and discussed in different spatial and thematic contexts. The question of how remodelling can succeed together will be explored in a practical way with an excursion to Heidelberg’s Südstadt district.

There is a long tradition of cooperation between communes, especially in the form of special-purpose associations with a sectoral focus. Integrated formats are particularly important for urban and regional development. This breakout area will use practical examples to explore both their success factors and the obstacles they face.

Germany needs new urban districts. Resilient, well-designed, socially balanced districts that have more housing and are accessible to everyone. This is right at the top of the list of priorities at federal, state and commune level. 

In other words, the question is less about “whether” and far more about “how” these districts will be designed and built. On the one hand, many of the lessons learned in the past can be applied here, but, on the other, we also need fresh perspectives and to reflect critically on what has already been built. 

In order to find solutions to the urgent problems caused by climate change, as well as other key urban development issues for the future – especially affordable housing and social cohesion – the New Leipzig Charter and the Memorandum Urban Resilience are focussing on the urban district as a crucial territorial level of intervention. Equally, resilient and future-proof urban development requires multifaceted strategies and must look beyond sectoral approaches and engage with complex, integrated processes. 

The breakout area will therefore focus on building a network between the various stakeholders, as well as on sharing experiences and expertise in the form of examples of good practice. What do we need to create urban districts that are future-proof, resilient and socially equitable? What must we pay particular attention to? How can we make our cities places where people want to live?

Town and city centres develop dynamically and on an ongoing basis. Many tasks and challenges are already known, while new ones are being added to the list. In the breakout area, the BMWSB and the city centre advisory council will focus specifically on the “cooperation and management” tasks, as well as the potential of open spaces in town and city centres. To that end, two newly prepared publications from the joint series “InnenstadtRatgeber” (city centre guide) will be presented. Representatives from the advisory council and practitioners will report in tandem on stimulating projects and lead discussions on them.

How can municipalities benefit from European cooperation when it comes to climate protection? This will be illustrated using practical examples. URBACT and the European Urban Initiative will explain why Europe needs strong cities and vice versa. An excursion to the Spinelli quarter will offer insights into Mannheim’s EU experience.

To mark the international Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin, breakout area VI will explore the role of “cooperation in urban development” in the context of communal reconstruction of Ukraine. International experts will address topics including resilient neighbourhoods and social housing, before participants are given the opportunity to experience and discuss both solutions and challenges in the new “Bahnstadt” district of Heidelberg.

The Bundespreis Stadtgrün 2024 recognises projects that demonstrate how urban green spaces promote exercise and health. The winners will be announced during the prize ceremony. The breakout area will present the prize entries and address opportunities for healthier and environmentally friendly urban green spaces.

3:15 p.m.
Coffee break and conversations in the HCC
Participants return from excursions

4:15 p.m.
Discussion: partners in the National Urban Development Policy Discussion led by: Anja Heyde, moderator

  • Elisabeth Kaiser, Member of the Bundestag, Parliamentary Secretary to the Federal Minister for Housing, Urban Development and Building
  • Nicole Razavi, Member of the Landtag, Minister of Regional Development and Housing, Baden-Württemberg
  • Bernd Düsterdiek, German Association of Towns and Municipalities
  • Hilmar von Lojewski, Association of German Cities
  • Jürgen Odszuck, First Mayor and Head of the Department for Urban Development and Construction, City of Heidelberg

5:15 p.m.
Farewell and end of the programme in plenum
Moderator Anja Heyde in conversation with:

  • Elisabeth Kaiser, Member of the Bundestag, Parliamentary Secretary to the Federal Minister for Housing, Urban Development and Building
  • Jürgen Odszuck, First Mayor and Head of the Department for Urban Development and Construction, City of Heidelberg

5:30 p.m.
Get-together by the Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building in the Heidelberg Congress Center