German-Indian Knowledge Exchange


On the occasion of a workshop on "Urban Resilience" to coastal and river floods and other extreme events, – organized by the Indo-German Centre for Sustainability (IGCS) – a fourteen-member RWTH delegation, accompanied by scientists from the ABCJ-Geoverbund, visited their Indian partner university in Chennai.


The ICGS is a collaboration between RWTH Aachen and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras). On the German side, it is headed by RWTH Professor Klaus Reicherter, Division of Earth Sciences and Geography, in cooperation with the university’s International Office. The "Urban Resilience” workshop series has been organized and largely financed by the IGCS. This funding serves to promote the interdisciplinary exchange on sustainability topics in research and teaching between India and Germany. The IGCS is supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Master’s students and scientists can, for instance, also apply for DAAD-funded scholarships for a self-organized research stay at the IIT Madras.

The focus of the latest workshop was on the effects of coastal and river flooding on the megacities and other settlements in the coastal lowlands of India. More than 1.5 billion people currently live within a 100-kilometer radius of the World's coastal zones, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions. This number continues to grow due to the region’s strong economic and social pull. Climate change scenarios point to an increasing frequency of extreme weather and climate events in the future. Coastal cities are, therefore, highly susceptible to suffering the effects of changing climatic conditions. This includes intensified seasonal precipitation, which has regularly led to severe flooding in India in recent years already. In addition, the west coast of India is vulnerable to tsunamis caused by earthquakes.

Besides being impacted by the immediate effects of destructive flood events, the widespread anthropogenic contamination of coastal areas with fats, oils, insecticides, pesticides, or multi-resistant germs can furthermore seriously impair coastal ecosystems in the long term.

The focus of the second Indo-German workshop was thus on exchanging knowledge to drive forward the investigation regarding coastal hazards, including the distribution of toxic pollutants and their effects on urban resilience and human health. The aim was to share knowledge and skills in the earth sciences, geochemistry, engineering, water management, as well as on ecotoxicological aspects related to cultural property and land use.
Further information can be found on the IGCS webpage.