Sustainability Research in and for Wuppertal

At first glance, Wuppertal with its 350,000 inhabitants is a typical post-industrial city, chronically broke, with above-average unemployment and many structural challenges. Look again, and you will find a growing and colourful scene of artists, entrepreneurs, socially responsible companies, active citizens and resourceful policy makers using the freedom afforded by a city where things are very much unfinished. All against the backdrop of an attractive topography and countless historical buildings (think cheap rent).

This mixture is reminiscent of the first wave of industrialisation, when citizens from the Wupper valley (Valley is "tal" in German) were some of the first to make their mark on the "Great Transformation" that was the Industrial Revolution. That is something to connect to with a new narrative: Having experienced and created great transformations before, Wuppertal has the potential to contribute to larger transformation towards sustainability and new models of well-being.

Mirke Station
Transformation in Wuppertal – Mirke Station. Photo: Olaf Joachimsmeier

The Wuppertal Institute has always been closely tied to its geographic location. Numerous projects and activities have been pursued together with city administrators, local schools, companies and civil society. Our program for PhD students on the future development of the city led to the study "Low Carbon City Wuppertal 2050" and a concept for a "Bicycle City Wuppertal" was proposed.

We are currently expanding our research into transformative processes in the city. In 2013 we founded the Centre for Transformation Research and Sustainability (TransZent) together with the University of Wuppertal. With TransZent and many partners in Wuppertal we are active both at the level of the whole city and in specific quarters and neighbourhoods. The central question is the same: What constitutes a good life in Wuppertal, how can it be measured using indicators and how can well-being be improved? Ecological, social and economic criteria all need to be considered. At the level of specific quarters we look into the effects citizen initiatives and projects have on life in Wuppertal.

The Wuppertal Institute also contributes to teaching at the University of Wuppertal within the Masters programme on "Sustainability Management", taking students into the city for practical projects. Recently launched, the platform "Transformation City" brings together Science, city government and civil society to bundle relevant activities.


Prof. Dr. Oscar Reutter

Tel.: +49 202 2492-267

Fax: +49 202 2492-108

Matthias Wanner

Tel.: +49 202 2492-210

Fax: +49 202 2492-108


Here you find research activities in and for the city of Wuppertal.