In this paper, three scenarios for the metropolitan region of Hamburg within the next 30 years are presented. The scenarios are based on an assessment of decisions, opportunities and bottlenecks faced by the region in the areas of economic restructuring, demographic and societal changes, city-development and environmental changes. Many core questions that the region is dealing with are representative for Western European cities and highly industrialised regions worldwide. Accordingly, insights gained about strategies and future possibilities for the study region may be of use to other metropolitan regions. Extensive expert interviews were combined with a comparative analysis of the strong and weak points in the development of Hamburg and other big cities to identify trends and critical and strategic success factors. It is argued that economic, political, societal and environmental processes evolve in close interdependency and need to be treated in conjunction. A central question in this context is the meaning of radically different routes of port development - expansion, re-orientation and discontinuation - for the city's economy, the region's environment and socio-cultural renewal. Beneficial outcomes for quality of life, economic development and environmental state are generally found to depend on a combination of economic, societal and political requirements. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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