HPP International Ladies Breakfast about sustainable inner-city area development

  General news


As traditional on the last day of the EXPO REAL we invited female decision-makers, public administrators and high strategic professionals from the real estate and construction sector to meet each other. This year, we talked about sustainable inner-city area development with experts on this theme Christin Herzberg (Head of ESG at Catella) and Jozien Timmers (Head of Architecture Department at MRP Development).

Christin talked us through the process of creating an ESG strategy for Catella and the difficulties involved. According to Christin, a lot of companies talk about ESG, but don’t know what it actually is. Not helping is the fact that ESG is full of acronyms and a jungle of regulations, standards and reporting.

For Catella, they created a long-term vision regarding ESG, focusing on the following:

  1. Evolve our products for a better environment
  2. Strengthen our employees and local communities
  3. Grow and integrate sustainability into our business offering

Underpinned by 10 long-term goals, they structurally work towards this vision.

Christin: “We need to be knowledgeable about the impact and responsibility we have on the society and environment we act within, and we equally need to understand how sustainability impacts our business.”

Furthermore, she told us about how the Catella Project Management adapts the ESG strategy on a practical level with the project Seestadt as an example (a project with 2,000 apartments as well as offices, a hotel and various service facilities at Mönchengladbach’s main railway station and in the immediate vicinity of the city centre). The idea behind this project is creating holistic neighbourhoods (15-minute city) and high-quality living space for all generations and income classes. Their goals:

  • Decentralised services while maintaining a high level of network infrastructure including climate-contious buildings within the urban districts and pedestrian-, bicycle-friendly traffic routing
  • Creating a district in which all functions of daily life are within 15 minutes walking or cycling distance. Cycle paths play an important role in this.

Within the project, they have several environmental and social concepts focusing on the future of living. They believe the 15-minute city is the ideal solution as both environmental and social aspects are brought together.



Jozien continued the meeting. Although she agrees that building for the future is a complex puzzle with all the challenges we face, she also sees that there are a lot of innovation opportunities.

Jozien: “I believe that when these innovations are combined with the challenges within the sector, nature-based solutions such as green roofs, green facades and urban forests emerge. These not only increase climate resilience but also allow us as humans to live longer and happier lives.” 

A beautiful example in which MRP is focusing on densifying the city while increasing its liveability and minimizing the negative impact of the built environment is the Cartesius project. In Utrecht, inspired by the scientific theory of the blue zones, 2852 apartments will be built. The project focus on three key drivers: education, innovation and integration. Part of the success according to Jozien is the close cooperation with stakeholders and advisors from the beginning of the project.

In the following discussion, public- and market parties shared their knowledge and experience about transformation projects, ESG and better cooperation. It was good to bring these women together and organise the International Ladies Breakfast already for the 15th time. Thank you Heleen Aarts for moderating.

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