Simone Sandholz leads the Urban Futures & Sustainability Transformation Programme at UNU-EHS.
She holds a PhD in Geography, a Master’s degree in natural resources management and a Diploma in architecture and urban planning.
In her research, Dr. Sandholz focuses on different aspects of future-oriented vulnerability and risk reduction with a focus on urban areas. Her two particular fields of expertise are resilient urban and regional development with an emphasis on critical infrastructures and nature-based solutions for risk reduction and climate change adaptation, closely linked to the second research area on sociocultural aspects of sustainable development, namely place attachment, adaptive social protection, good governance and sustainable livelihood approaches, based on empirical social research methods.
Dr. Sandholz has (co-)authored numerous research articles, books and book chapters, as well as policy and outreach publications. Besides being manager and lead researcher in different transdisciplinary research projects, including on Transformative Urban Coalitions in Latin American cities, her tasks include securing third-party funding, as well as supervising team members, visiting scientists and master’s students. On top of her teaching activities at UNU-EHS and UNU-MERIT (Maastricht, NL), Dr. Sandholz has vast teaching experience in different German and international universities, including Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico and Nepal. She is representative of UNU-EHS in the Evaluation Commission of the Joint Master’s Programme ‘Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security’ with the University of Bonn as well as deputy member of the Academic Board. Furthermore she is co-developer of an open-source Masters Elective Course and a MOOC on ‘Disasters and Ecosystems: Resilience in a Changing Climate’ led by UN Environment, where she was responsible for the units on urban and spatial planning and acted as co-author of the related source book.
Dr. Sandholz has previously worked as assistant professor at the Department of Geography, University of Innsbruck (Austria). As part of the working groups on Development Studies and Natural Hazards Research, she researched on urban resilience in Latin America and Asia. At TH Köln – University of Applied Sciences, Germany, she acted as scientific coordinator of the Center for Natural Resources and Development, a global university network involving researchers in 15 Asian, Latin American and African countries under the ‘Higher Education Excellence in Development Cooperation’ Programme of the German Academic Exchange Service and the Federal Ministry for Development and Cooperation (BMZ). She was responsible for setting up a German-Mexican Master’s programme and coordinated a research project on the values of open spaces in emerging Brazilian Megacities. She won scholarships for her MSc and PhD fieldwork projects, received awards for her theses and was awarded with the teaching prize of TH Köln.
- Disaster risk management
- Green and grey infrastructure
- Sustainable urban and regional development
- Urban climate action
- 2021 to Present: Head of Urban Futures & Sustainability Transformation Programme
- 2020 to Present: Focal point of Europe and North America PEDRR Network
- 2019: Co-Chair a.i. of the VARMAP Section at UNU-EHS
- 2018 to Present: Co-Chair of the Eco-Disaster Risk Reduction Thematic Group within IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM)
- 2018 to Present: Member of the Editorial Board of the “Indonesian Journal of Geography”
- 2018 to Present: Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal “Urban Planning”
- 2018 to present: Representative of UNU-EHS in the Evaluation Commission of the Joint Master’s Programme “Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security”
- 2016 to Present: Member of the Working Group on Natural Hazards and Risks within the German Geographical Association
- 2015 to Present: Member of Innsbrucker Geographische Gesellschaft, Austria
- 2013 to Present: Member of the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM)
- 2012 to Present: Member of the Working Group on Latin America within the German Geographical Association
- 2009 to Present: Member of the Working Group on Urban Research in Developing Contexts within the German Geographical Association