Environmental Justice Berlin 2013


Thematic approach

The Berlin approach to assessing environmental justice mainly relies on the evaluation and aggregation of available data. It has been conceived as a two-stage process with five core and various complementary indicators, while the data bases are generated at different intervals on a small scale, at the level of the planning areas (PLAs), and are kept available as the respective states of work over a longer period of time.

In order to capture and illustrate the small-scale distribution of environmental loads, four important environment-related topics whose relevance for health has been documented scientifically (noise, air pollution, availability of green spaces and bioclimatic load) were first chosen. The density of social issues (status index from the Social Urban Development Monitoring) was integrated into the basic indicator set of five core indicators as another – fifth – area relevant for health.

In the first step of the analytic process, the data regarding the three core indicators air quality, noise and thermal load were analysed and uniformly classified into the ordinal scale attributes “good”, “medium” or “bad”, according to the health hazard. The classification of the other core indicators “availability of green spaces” and “social issues” was conducted analogously, but without a health-related weighting. Subsequently, the multiple-load factor of each planning area was determined by summing up the core indicators that had been attributed to category 3 (“bad”/”high”). Thus, the number and distribution of spaces with multiple loads as well as the responsible loads are accessible and transparent.

In a second step, the statements from the multiple-load map can be further differentiated thematically through complementary indicators from the areas of health, social affairs, urban planning and urban development. For example, planning areas with

  • multiple loads based on the core indicators very high air pollution and/or very high noise load,
  • predominantly simple residential character and
  • very high statistical mortality

are characterised as health-oriented “risk attributes”, which are thus subject to a particularly heavy load from the perspective of environmental medicine.

This status assessment (“Berlin today”) via the two-stage Berlin environmental justice monitoring thus provides an overview over the environmental quality in the 447 planning areas of the city.

The environmental justice monitoring is conceived such that further existing sectoral or integrated monitoring approaches can be used and combined in order to render the small-scale health load analysis more precise.

Spatial levels of representation

Entire city

In analogy to the Social Urban Development Monitoring (Monitoring Soziale Stadtentwicklung, MSS) (SenStadtUm 2013), the data evaluation and cartographic representation of the environmental justice monitoring are based on the spatial classification of Berlin into the three levels of living environment areas (LEA) (SenStadt 2009). For the graded indicator system of the environmental justice monitoring, the smallest entity – the 447 planning areas – with a size of an average of 7500 of inhabitants was chosen.

Delimitation of the “focus area inner city”

The small-scale analyses of environmental loads show that the majority of the multiple-load areas are situated in the inner city and adjacent areas (outside of the S-Bahn ring). To allow a better representation of the impact area of the environmental justice approach with respect to the unequal distribution of the loads and concerning the relation to urban spaces, it seemed necessary to extend the area of consideration to the inner city. This new “focus area inner city” is the third backdrop of the Berlin environmental justice approach, along with the entire urban area of investigation and the boroughs.

The area which is represented as a “priority area for air purity” in the Berlin land use plan (LUP) (SenStadtUm 2015a) is the basis for the delimitation of the “focus area inner city”. This space essentially encompasses the Berlin inner-city boroughs with approximately 100km² area and a predominantly closed and multi-storey architecture. According to the representation of the land use plan, measures to reduce emissions are to be provided when planning in this area. The representation of the “priority area for air purity” sets spatial priorities for restricting emissions by the polluting groups domestic fuel and industry. The “priority area for air purity” is legally secured according to planning laws through the representation in the LUP, and is specified through further immission control regulations.

This backdrop of the investigation makes sense because the strengthening of the inner city, the desired urban mixture and the qualification of the stock are important goals of sustainable urban development in Berlin that is oriented towards climate justice. Moreover, the existing city structures are of special relevance when it comes to the implementation of strategies and measures. The existing very densely built-up urban structures are mainly situated in neighbourhoods which lie within this newly defined area – the “focus area inner city”.

Borough-level representation and evaluation

The representation for the entire city in the integrated multiple-load map “Environmental Justice in the State of Berlin 2014/15” according to planning areas is also differentiated for the examination at the borough level. Assessing the situation in the respective borough and in the entire city comparatively allows for a differentiated classification of the degree of environmental justice at the borough level. Taking a look at the boroughs allows both the local actors and the affected persons to readily recognize the particularly affected areas and to set priorities accordingly with regard to formulating and implementing projects or measures.

Besides the expression in the map, the borough-level representation also includes the graphical evaluations

  • “percentage of inhabitants in the borough of the categories of the multiple load” and
  • “share of the planning areas in the borough of the categories of the multiple load in absolute numbers”. These are placed in relation to the situation in all of Berlin.

The following can be represented accurately in tabular form at the level of the planning areas:

  • the population, i.e. those affected by the environmental situation,
  • the classifications of the core indicators,
  • the integrated representation of the load (no load up to fivefold load),
  • the classification of the planning areas into the areas with simple residential character with very high noise load and/or air pollution.