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Research Fields



  • Regulation of resource use and resource conservation
  • Environmental, planning, and energy law
  • International and European environmental and trade law
  • Sustainable urban development
  • Environmental and climate protection interests in (quasi) judicial review procedures
  • Participation of citizens and NGOs
  • International institutions


Current Projects


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INTEGRA - Integration of habitat structures into agricultural land to promote insect pollinators

The project is a collaboration with Prof. Dr. Alexandra-Maria Klein and Dr. Felix Fornoff (Chair of Conservation and Landscape Ecology), Jun.-Prof. and environmental lawyer Dr. Cathrin Zengerling (Chair of Transformation towards Sustainable Energy Systems) as well as Dr. Sebastian Gayler (Institute of Soil Science and Land Evaluation at the University of Hohenheim). As part of the INTEGRA project, a team led by Dr. Christopher Morhart and Prof. Dr. Thomas Seifert from the Chair of Forest Growth and Dendro-ecology at the University of Freiburg are studying the ways in which trees and shrubs are suited as a habitat for pollinating insects in agricultural areas. Researchers will record the range of blossom and nesting places offered by different trees and shrubs around the year to develop a free and publicly available software tool for reassessing and transforming agricultural systems. The project also investigates the legal framework of agroforestry systems, that arise from the integration of trees and shrubs in agricultural systems. Therefore, the software tool will also integrate the legal framework and potential sources of funding to support actors in their planning processes.



I4C - Intelligence for Cities - From Data to Predictions to Decisions

The I4C project investigates how artificial intelligence methods can support the adaptation of cities to climate change. In the project, a model of the city of Freiburg is combined with weather forecasts and climate simulations. In the high-resolution 3D model, critical locations are visualized and risks are identified. Machine learning methods are used to adapt the weather forecast model to the actual development of the atmosphere, as well as for the forecast itself and for cause analysis. The results can be used to derive planning, political and legal measures to improve the adaptability of cities to extreme events. The project is accompanied by considerations of ethics and data protection when dealing with artificial intelligence.

Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und nukleare Sicherheit, KI-lighthouses-Funding, 2021-2023



Urban Footprints Project (UFP)

The research group "Urban Footprints - Towards Greater Accountability in the Governance of Cities' Carbon and Material Flows" explores the current as well as the potential future role of cities as crucial actors in combating climate change and resource depletion.

Volkswagen Foundations, Freigeist-Fellowship, 2018-2022


  • Zengerling, C., Sotto D., Fuo, O. (2021). Cities. In: Reins, L.; Verschuuren, J. (Eds.) Research Handbook on Climate Change Mitigation Law, 2nd edition. Edward Elger Publishing (in print).
  • Zengerling, C. (2021). Kommunale Klimaschutzplanung. In: Rodi M. (Hrsg.) Klimaschutzrecht. Beck (accepted for publication)
  • John, N., Harseim, L., Vignola G., Zengerling C. (2021). Of Zeros and Ones: Choices that shape the zero carbon and digital city of tomorrow. HCU Perspectives, No. 6 (accepted for publication)
  • AScUS Poster
  • Zengerling, C. (2020). Städte im polyzentrischen Klimaschutzregime, Zeitschrift für Umweltrecht (ZUR) 1/2020, 3-11
  • Zengerling, C. (2019). Governing the City of Flows – A Plea for Greater Accountability in Strategic Planning and Implementation. Urban Planning, 4/1, 187-199. Open Access
  • UFP Kick-off Workshop Documents 
  • Zengerling, C. (2018). Action on Climate Change Mitigation in German and Chinese Cities - A Search for Emerging Patterns of Accountability. Habitat International, 75, 147-153



Participating Researcher in three subprojects of the cluster of excellence "CLICCS - Climate, Climatic Change and Society" of the University Hamburg: „Dynamics of Climate Governance: Norms, Contestation, and Policies“, „Coping with Climate-Related Uncertainties and Variabilities” and „Sustainable Adaptation Scenarios for Urban Areas - Water from Four Sides".

DFG, 2019-2025






Participating Researcher in “Klimapolis”, a 5-year joint project between Germany and Brazil to establish and develop a long term cooperative research on urban air pollution and climate change in metropolitan areas of Brazil.

BMBF, 2017-2022




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International Trade Law and Environmental Protection


  • Zengerling, C. (2020/2021). Klimaschutz und Welthandel – Erste Ansätze ökologischer Rechtsstaatlichkeit im EU-Mercosur Freihandelsabkommen? In: Benjamin, H., Westland M. (Eds.) Der ökologische Rechtsstaat. (deutsch/portugiesisch) (accepted for publication)
  • Harrison J.; Paulini, S.; Ankersmit. L.; van Asselt, H.; Barros-Platiau, A.; Eslava, L.; Harstad, B.; Marzano, K.; Raza, W.; Rittl, C.; Zengerling, C. (2021). Academic Statement: Proposals on the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement and the Environment, 8 Feb 2021, abrufbar unter:
  • C. Zengerling (2020). Stärkung von Klimaschutz und Entwicklung durch internationales Handelsrecht - Eine Untersuchung des Rechts der WTO, regionaler Freihandelsabkommen und Wirtschaftspartnerschaftsabkommen der EU unter besonderer Berücksichtigung nachhaltiger Landnutzung", Expertise im Auftrag des Wissenschaftlichen Beirats der Bundesregierung Globale Umweltveränderung, Mai 2020, abrufbar unter:
  • Zengerling, C.; Buck, M. (2018). Umweltschutz und Freihandel. In H.-J. Koch (Ed), Handbuch des Umweltrechts (pp. 1100-1148). München: Vahlen.



Information on currently running dissertation projects (under construction):

  • Lisa Harseim - working title:

The role of world cities for accountable multi-scalar phosphorus (P) flow governance in globalized food systems

  • Nikita John - working title:

The role of participation in planning sustainable urban infrastructure, towards reducing consumption emissions in the National Capital Territory of Delhi, India.

  • Lina Irscheid - working title:


  • Ahmed Tarek AlAhwal - working title:





Completed Projects




E-Quartier Hamburg - Elektromobiliy in urban residential quarters, legal opinion

The e-Quartier Hamburg project explores how electromobility can be increasingly integrated into urban living quarters. The legal opinion can be downloaded in a short or long version (German).

Duration: 2016-2017

Project of the model region Hamburg, funded by the BMVBS.


  • C. Zengerling (2019). Ausbau von Elektromobilitätsangeboten in der Wohnungswirtschaft – Erkenntnisse aus dem Forschungsprojekt e-Quartier Hamburg, Die Wohnungswirtschaft, 5/2019, 28-29.
  • T. Prill, C. Zengerling (2018). Elektromobilität in urbanen Wohnquartieren – Handlungsspielräume und quartiersbezogene Strategien. PLANERIN, 3, 37-41.
  • M. Duncker, C. Zengerling (2017). Elektromobilität in der kommunalen Planung. RaumPlanung 190, 44-49



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