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ZENARIO Mission Statement

What is ZENARiO?

ZENARiO stands for "Zentrum für nachhaltige Raumentwicklung in Oldenburg" (Centre for sustainable spatial development in Oldenburg). It is an interdisciplinary network which concentrates the spatial scientific competences of the planning, social, economic, law and natural science disciplines at the Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg and their surroundings. The research groups of different work and experience backgrounds participate actively together with some more member institutions. They make their contribution to the aims and tasks of COAST, the superordinate centre network for environment and sustainability at the University Oldenburg.

ZENARiO pursues the target of promoting a sustainable regional development, initiating the according discourses, examining it scientificly and attending it. The centre is commited to the sustainability principles of the University Oldenburg. A special focus of ZENARiO's activities is aligned on the challenges and potential solutions in the northwest region of Germany.The centre opines that the precondition for the implementation of approaches to a sustainable development is based on integrating regional practice partners from administration, economy and civil society.

But not only the focus on the regional level is important for ZENARiO, the national as well as the international level play a decisive role, too. Especially for comparing research approaches the European Higher Education Area with its different partner institutions to which ZENARiO has contacts, provide many opportunities. Not at least because of the exchange of students and lecturers in the framework of academic teaching.

Spatial relations

Questions and issues with an explicit spatial relation are focused in the activities of ZENARiO. This emphasis is motivated by the idea that the central challenges of a sustainable development imply a spatial field of action as well. The increasing shortage of the ressource soil because of factors like the persistant land usage for the needs of settlement and traffic and thus increasing land and leasing prices, the persistent occurence of land use conflicts between competing interest groups and the massive consequental damages from unsustainabile forms of land use (e.g. factory farming, mass tourism) are some of the many challenges which require new solutions on the path to sustainable spatial usage. For the creation of corresponding control approaches of a sustainable spatial development, territorially defined organisation and action structures on a regional level are most important, especially in the framework of regional planning and development (e.g. metropol regions, muncipal associations, local protected areas). The emergence, function and performance of such constructions of spatial management are of special interest for ZENARiO. 

Inter- and transdisciplinarity

The issues of a sustainable development don't stop at a discipline's border. The higher the complexity of a challenge, the more there is need of interdisciplinary action approaches. ZENARiO understands itself as an institution which brings members of different disciplines together to work on selected questins and create an added value. This requires the willingness for mutual professional understanding, for questioning habitual approaches to research and for joint learning of new approaches. Wherever it makes sense to combine the competences, points of view and experiences of the participants, it should be integrated systematicly. 

What are the tasks of ZENARiO?

The specific arrangemnt of the work of ZENARiO is orientated on the current issues  and on future challanges of spatial planning on the one hand and on the present scientific competences and experiences on the other hand. At the same time ZENARiO is open for the further development of its thematic setting of priorities and the integration of new partners in the northwest region. There are four main fields of activity in the focus of the centre:

1. Renewable energies

The coastal region is very important for the future supply of energy in Germany and also has a central linking function in Europe. The reconstruction of the energy system in direction of an increasing part of renewable energies has significant effects on the economical, social and ecological development as well as on nature and landscape. In this context ZENARiO deals primarily with the ecological preconditions and effects and the planning control of the reconstruction of energy production. This respects the different forms of renewable energy production as well as the muncipal organisation and control instruments. Furthermore the planning of energy networks and storage technology is important. 

2. Climate change

According to all current projections the northwest of Germany will particularly be affected by climate change. Above all the coastal region as an important site for living, working and leisure will be affected exceedingly, for it is a place of protection of natural ressources and the security of biodiversity at the same time. Climate change itself as well as the climate protection measures and adjustements have a significant effect on land use and will change the scenery of the cultural landscape of the region. These spatial implication of climate change and the alignment of action strategies are one of the main focuses of ZENARiO. The centre of this focus lies on the effects of climate protection strategies for the ecological quality and the competetiveness of the region (e.g. expansion of bioenergy). Furthermore the general conditions and spatial structurel consequences of measures for climate adjustement and the possibilities of utilisation of synergies between climate protection and adjustment are of interest. 

3. Nature protection

The northwest of lower saxony is a place of special ecological quality which results from an environmental diversity: The wadden sea with its coast and islands (national park, biosphere reserve, FFH-area and world heritage), the marshland with its distinct grassland areas, the geest and its forests (e.g. Hasbruch), flowing waters (e.g. Hunte) and moors (e.g. nature park Bourtanger Moor-Bargerveen). The very divers images of the historic cultural landscapes are widely still apparent, but are endangered by accellerated change processes. ZENARiO deals with innovative and coorporative concepts for the conservation of historic cultural landscapes under today's economical and social conditions - additionally to the pass on conservation measures. A second priority is the improvement of biotope networks by developing regional partnerships as a contribution to the national biodiversity strategy. A third point of interest is the securing and further development of grassland, for it is of big importance for the support of biodiversity and the conservation of the cultural landscape. The fourth priority is the creation of head ideas and a public discussion for "new landscapes" with the aim of integrating the requirements of nature conservation and the aesthetics of the current economic landscape. 

4. Regional Governance

Considering the economical, ecological and social aspects of the challenges of a sustainable spatial development, their connection to changed requirements concerning concepts, strategies, procedures and instruments of spatial control becomes obvious. Points of interest are in this case the inclusion and acceptance of affected persons as well as of the population which should participate in suitible ways in creation and decision processes on local-regional levels in terms of regional governance. ZENARiO deals with the specific problems of constructing such governance-constellations, analyses their origin, structure, functioning and effects and develops action recommendations for the creation or optimisation of suitable control approaches in different fields of topic for the interested participants and population groups of the northwest region. 

Which procedures ans methods are used by ZENARiO?

ZENARiO deals with spatial-structural change processes of the region and develops management concepts which are orientated on the principles of sustainablity in the framework of reports for concrete ideas and inter- or transdiciplinary research projects. The centre is supported by the wide range of discipline-specific procedures ans methods of the participating professions which can be used in different contexts. Of particular importance are those competences which are offered by geo information systems, regional statistics and environmental law. Other important factors are experiences with different methods of monitoring abiotic and biotic objects of protection (above all soil, water, flora, fauna, cohabitation), qualitative procedures of regional research and moderation and mediation. New initiatives and concepts in spatial development, including the implementation of spaciously effecting infrastructure projects and the reconstruction of the energy system, can only work out, if the affected population and participants have access to the necessary knowledge to comprehence planning processes and decisions. This is the precondition for an active participation in the planning process. ZENARiO sees itself as obligated to make a contribution to sustainability education. 

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