This document summarises key findings of OECD (2019), OECD Territorial Reviews: Hamburg Metropolitan Region,OECD Publishing, Paris.This work is published under the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the OECD. The opinions expressed andarguments employed herein do not necessarily reflect the official views of the Organisation or of the governmentsof its member countries.This document and any map included herein are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory,to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area.The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use ofsuch data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlementsin the West Bank under the terms of international law.Photo creditsCover designed by François Iglesias/OECDSeite 3 / Alexander RudolphSeite 6 / Geheimtipp HamburgSeite 8 / Timo Sommer und Lee MaasSeite 10 / Lüneburg Marketing GmbHSeite 11 / Cluster Ern. EnergienSeite 12 / Bernd SchmidtSeite 13 / Christian SpahrbierSeite 14 European XFEL / Heiner Müller-ElsnerSeite 16 / Christian SpahrbierSeite 17 / Geheimtipp HamburgSeite 18 / imagefoto.deFor more information:

OECD Territorial Reviews:Hamburg Metropolitan Region, GermanyPOLICY HIGHLIGHTSTable of contentsKey findings .4Key recommendations.133

Key findingsHamburg Metropolitan Region spans four federal statesand a heterogeneous mix of urban and rural areasWith about 8% of national territory, the HamburgMetropolitan Region (HMR) is the second largest inGermany, just behind the metropolitan region of BerlinBrandenburg. Home to almost 5.4 million inhabitants, itencompasses the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg(which is also a federal state) and parts of three statessurrounding it: Schleswig-Holstein (51% of its territory lieswithin HMR), Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (30%),and Lower Saxony (26%). The metropolitan region bringstogether 20 districts and more than 1,100 municipalities.Among the eleven metropolitan regions in Germany, HMRregisters the second lowest population density, with only186 inhabitants per square kilometre and 12.5% of itsterritory used for settlement or transport. This reflectsthe heterogeneous combination of a densely populatedurban core and a relatively wide periphery. The corearea, composed of the city of Hamburg and its immediatesurroundings, is economically stronger but also strugglingto maintain affordable housing, attract skilled workers,and preserve its high quality of life.Some rural areas have capitalised on economic sectorssuch as tourism and renewable energy, but many are alsolosing population and have poorer accessibility to publicservices and employment opportunities.With four federal states, HMR spans the highest number ofstates among the eleven metropolitan regions in Germanyand includes two of the four state capitals. Regional cooperation in the area dates back as far as the 1920s andwas progressively institutionalised through an inter-stateagreement in 1991, the recognition at federal level bythe Standing Conference of Ministers responsible forSpatial Planning (Ministerkonferenz für Raumordnung)in 1995, and further regional expansion up until 2017.The HMR Office, governed by a Regional Council, doesnot constitute a tier of government and has no dedicatedcompetencies. It serves as a co-ordination body and aplatform for dialogue to help build consensus among its36 stakeholders, who are frequently driven apart due todifferences in their legal frameworks, policy objectives,and political interests.Figure 1. Hamburg Metropolitan Region with its constituent districts4Source: Hamburg Metropolitan Region

While HMR enjoys a strong economy overall, it is quicklylosing ground to regions in the South of Germany; its labourproductivity remains low in the OECD contextAmong the eleven metropolitan regions in Germany,HMR is the fifth largest contributor to national GDP(6.2%) and enjoys the fourth highest level of GDP percapita (EUR 39,604). Its unemployment rate dropped fromabout 12% in 2005 to about 7% in 2015. With Germany’slargest and Europe’s third busiest port in Europe (behindRotterdam and Antwerp), HMR has developed strongclusters in various sectors, ranging from its traditionallyleading maritime, logistics, and port-related industries toaviation, renewable energy, and life sciences. Comparedto other parts of Germany, entrepreneurial activity ishigh in the urban areas of HMR. The region is home to anumber of major research institutes, including the worldclass XFEL (European X-ray Free-Electron Laser) researchfacility, in operation since 2017, and the German ElectronSynchrotron (DESY), Europe’s leading centre for particleaccelerators. Hamburg hosts the offices of social media/IT multinational firms and has a vibrant fabric of techstart-ups. HMR also stands at a unique strategic locationalong the transport and trade corridor linking Germany,Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, with promising newopportunities from the upcoming construction of theFehmarn Belt Fixed Link. Quality of life is relatively highin the region, and in many dimensions exceeds that inother regions across the OECD.However, HMR’s growth potential remains underexploited.HMR fell behind all other metropolitan regions in Germanyin terms of GDP per capita growth between 2005 and2015 (19% in HMR vs. 42% in Central Germany; 39% in MRBerlin-Brandenburg, MR Nuremburg, and MR Stuttgart;30% in MR Munich). A major explanation of this poorperformance is comparatively low growth in labourproductivity (measured in terms of GDP per employed)during the same period. In particular, metropolitan regionsin Southern Germany performed considerably better.MR Munich, which was already at a higher level thanHMR in 2005, almost doubled its advantage by 2015;MR Stuttgart, which was initially at a lower level, leapedahead comfortably; and MR Rhein-Neckar, also initially ata lower level, is now at about the same level as HMR. Thegap in labour productivity between HMR and regions inthe South rose from less than EUR 4,000 in 2005 to morethan EUR 6,000 in 2015. If this trend continued, everyfour years HMR would be missing out about EUR 1,000in GDP per employed relative to metropolitan regions inthe South of Germany.Labour productivity in HMR also remains low relative tothe average of comparable metropolitan regions acrossthe OECD. Although labour productivity grew faster inHMR during the 2005-2015 period, it remains well belowthe level of Copenhagen (Denmark), Gothenburg (Sweden),and Rotterdam (Netherlands), for example.5

Human capital is lower in HMR than in othermetropolitan regions in GermanyOne reason behind sluggish labour productivity growthin HMR is the relatively lower level of human capital. Only14.4% of the labour force hold a tertiary degree, placingHMR eighth out of the eleven metropolitan regions inGermany and four percentage points below Munich andthe Capital Region of Berlin-Brandenburg. More than 6%of high school graduates in HMR left school without adegree in 2016. The high-tech sector employs a meager4.8% of the labour force, the second lowest share amongthe eleven regions in Germany and almost three timesless than in MR Stuttgart.Firms across HMR struggle with a shortage of skilledworkers, especially in the sectors of health and social6care, information and communication, engineering, andcrafts. The skills shortage is most severe in jobs requiringa vocational qualification, in the sectors of crafts or socialcare. However, it also affects occupations that requiretertiary education, in the areas of medicine, engineering,software development, and STEM (science, technology,engineering, and mathematics). On the supply side,schools and universities in HMR score, on average, onlymidfield to lower midfield when it comes to standardisedachievement. On the demand side, other metropolitanregions in Germany are registering higher job creationsthan HMR (as evidenced by higher vacancies-unemployedratios), which is likely to drain HMR of qualified candidatesand increase existing skill shortages even further.

Figure 2. Private sector R&D expenditure as percentage of GDP in metropolitan regionsInvestment of firms in hr NurembergFrankfurtCentralGermanyMunichHanover Rhein-Neckar StuttgartNotes: Figures take into account the exact geographical borders of regions, by aggregating observations over districts they are composed of Berlin Capital Region of Berlin-Brandenburg; Northwest Bremen-Oldenburg in the Northwest; Frankfurt FrankfurtRheinMain; Hanover HannoverBraunschweig Göttingen Wolfsburg.Source: Own calculation based on Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (n.d.), INKAR online: Indikatorenund Karten zur Raum- und Stadtentwicklung, teraktiveAnwendungen/INKAR/inkar online node.html (accessed on 18 December 2018), latest available data at the district level on shares of firms by firm size from 2014 and on researchand development personnel and investments from 2009.Limited capacity to invest in innovation and scattered efforts todevelop clusters undermine the region’s growth potentialThe lack of large companies is another reason for HMR’ssluggish growth in labour productivity. Compared toother metropolitan regions in Germany, HMR has ahigher share of smaller firms and a lower share of largerfirms, especially compared to the regions in the South ofGermany. There is only one DAX (the German nationalstock market index listing the 30 largest firms by marketcapitalisation) company headquartered in HMR. The lackof large firms at least partly explains the low level of R&Dexpenditure, which only accounts for 0.8% of GDP – thesecond lowest share out of eleven regions and strikinglyfar below the EU target of 3% of GDP for 2020. Comparedwith other economic hubs in Germany, such as the citiesof Berlin, Frankfurt, or Munich, the lack of alternativesources of funding for private sector innovation (such asventure capital) constrains small businesses and inhibitsentrepreneurship in HMR.Co-operation between higher education research and theeconomy remains underdeveloped. Over the past decade,several science and technology parks were established inHMR with the explicit aim of fostering further interactionbetween firms and higher education institutions. Suchmeasures have contributed to improving science-industrylinkages, but research and business needs are not alwaysaligned.While all four federal states that compose HMR havefollowed the EU approach of smart regional specialisation,they have developed independent cluster strategies.Hamburg identifies eight business clusters as crucial foreconomic development and innovation, Schleswig-Holsteinfive, Lower Saxony seven, and Mecklenburg-WesternPomerania five. Several of these clusters overlap acrossthe four states (e.g. maritime industries, logistics, healthand life sciences, aviation, and renewable energy) andcollaboration sometimes occurs across state boundaries,with excellent outcomes (e.g. in aviation and renewableenergy). However, there is no overall, shared vision toexploit synergies across the region and no mechanismto pool resources and capacities.7

HMR is well-positioned to make the most of digitalisation in Germany,but a digital divide remains between urban and rural areasMore than 35% of households have access to opticalfibre in HMR compared to around 15% in MR Munich,the second-best equipped region, and less than 5% insix out of eleven German metropolitan regions. Withthe relatively rapid roll-out of high-speed broadband,businesses in HMR are in a better position to design,test, and implement new digital technologies into theirproduction processes and methods. Digital innovationalso offers new solutions to simplify and accelerate publicservice delivery while reducing barriers for entrepreneursand small firms. In particular, HMR is making significantstrides forward to reduce congestion in urban areas andimprove the supply of buses and taxis for residents ofremote areas through Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS).Hamburg will host the next ITS World Congress in 2021,8which has boosted the digital agenda and stimulatedcloser co-operation between government, businesses,and universities to position the region as a global playerin smart transport solutions.However, substantial disparities remain between urbanand rural areas. While the urban core and the districts inthe North of HMR report nearly full coverage of high-speedbroadband access, more remote areas (particularly in theEast of HMR) report much lower coverages, sometimesbelow 60%. Differences in broadband access coverage maybe a result of different priorities of federal states involvedin HMR, all of which follow an independent digitalisationstrategy.

Despite successful regional collaboration in transport,large differences in accessibility within HMR are hamperingeconomic integration and territorial cohesionWhile the creation of the Hamburg Traffic Association(HVV) and its integrated transport network offer a majorexample of successful regional collaboration, it only coverspart of the HMR territory and wide disparities exist interms of transport accessibility across the region. In somedistricts, the average driving time to the closest trainstation is close to 60 minutes, more than twice the HMRaverage (26 minutes). The average linear distance to thenearest public transport stop with at least ten departuresper day is only 429 metres in HMR, but varies substantiallyby district, ranging from 191 metres in Neumünster (adistrict-free city in the North of HMR) to 895 metres inLudwigslust-Parchim (a district in its East). Even thoughefforts have been made at all levels of HMR to improvetransport services, the multimodal and extensive publictransport network in the urban core stands in starkcontrast with less extensive and less accessible transportoptions in rural parts in the periphery.Figure 3. Accessibility of the next medium-level centres by public transport in the HMRNote: Medium-level centre (Mittelzentrum) is a qualitative description of an agglomeration in the German central place classificatory system, accordingto the administrative, social, and economic functions it performs in a polycentric system of cities.Source: Institut für Verkehrsplanung und Logistik TU Hamburg (2017), Leitprojekt Regionale Erreichbarkeitsanalysen: Abschlussbericht und Erreichbarkeitsatlas, tsanalysen.9

The fragmented spatial planning framework contributes to a persistentmismatch between supply and demand on the housing marketHousing prices and rents in Hamburg were among thehighest in Germany in 2016 and are still on the rise. Theurban core of HMR is, therefore, increasingly strugglingto provide affordable housing. While federal, regional,and local policies have aimed at increasing the supply ofaffordable housing, the lack of land made available fordevelopment, a shrinking social housing stock, and anincrease in planning and building costs related to qualityand regulatory requirements (including lengthy planningprocesses) have driven housing costs up in the urban core.In contrast, some municipalities in the second ring of HMRface higher vacancies and a housing stock ill-adapted tothe changing needs of the population (such as large singlefamily houses located far from public transport, whichare no longer suited to an ageing population).10Co-ordination of housing policy in HMR is furthercomplicated by the fact that the four participatingstates organise spatial planning at different levels andwith different timelines. While Hamburg and SchleswigHolstein have one spatial planning body each at state level,Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has several regionalplanning associations; Lower Saxony, on the contrary,leaves regional planning entirely to the discretion ofdistricts, which form the smallest planning units withinthe HMR.

HMR has the potential to become a global leader in renewable energyHMR is in a unique position to take advantage of theenergy transition in Germany. It could benefit from itshigh volume of onshore wind power and the potentialof offshore wind energy, the connection of Scandinavia’shydropower generation with the Central Europeangrid, and the intersections of the supra-regional gastransmission pipelines with future LNG (liquid naturalgas) terminals. The North German Energy Transition (NEW4.0) initiative connects 60 public, private, and researchpartners across the two federal states of Hamburg andSchleswig-Holstein in 2016-2020 with the aim to supplythe region with 100% renewable energy by 2035. HMRhas been taking steps to integrate renewable energyproduction into land use and spatial planning, and someof its participating states have introduced legislationaround citizen participation in production (e.g. Bürger- undGemeindenbeteiligungsgesetz in Mecklenburg-WesternPomerania).However, HMR needs to address several challenges forrenewable energy generation, especially wind power, inthe near future. These include addressing local resistancemore comprehensively and consistently when it comesto replacing old wind turbines with larger, new ones atexisting sites; how to most effectively use green energyby jointly optimising electricity, heating, and transportsectors; and how to control electricity consumptionand shift demand in times of underproduction towardstimes of overproduction. Given also the lack of highpower transmission lines from the North of Germanyto its industrial hubs in Rhein-Ruhr and Rhein-Neckar,renewable energy generation in HMR is not reaching itsfull potential.11

The region offers a diverse range of cultural and naturalassets, but these remain underexploitedWorld-renowned cultural assets, such as theElbphilharmonie and the UNESCO world heritage siteSpeicherstadt, act as magnets to Hamburg and the HMR asa whole. Historic towns, including Wismar (MecklenburgWestern Pomerania), Lübeck (Schleswig-Holstein), andLüneburg (Lower Saxony), offer a rich cultural history.HMR is also endowed with numerous natural assets andrecreational amenities, including five UNESCO BiosphereReserves. The latter can help combat climate change andpreserve biodiversity, sustain recreational and greenareas, and promote research and education. In an effortto encourage a broader understanding of the region’scultural heritage, HMR has aimed to promote lesser-knownsites as well.12However, the tourism sector is fragmented across HMR.There is no co-ordinated tourism offer between urbanand rural areas, with several different brands advertisingdifferent parts of the region. The potential to capitaliseon the name value and international visibility of Hamburgremains largely underexploited due to the lack of a jointtourism strategy, resulting from the dominance of stronglocal identities and concerns about serving not only theHMR territory but also the remaining territory of eachstate.

Key recommendationsStrengthen collaboration across local, state, and nationalboundaries to raise HMR’s international profileAn overarching recommendation is to “think big” beyondlocal, state, and even national boundaries to achieve acritical mass in the international context and maximisebenefits for the entire region in the long term. In a rapidlychanging world where powerful megatrends such asglobalisation, digitalisation, demographic shifts, andclimate change are reshaping economies and societies,maintaining a status quo of fragmented, small-scaleinitiatives means missing opportunities for growth andwell-being. Despite valuable economic, environmental,and cultural assets, and an unprecedented opportunityto step up its role in the economic corridor running fromHamburg to Oslo, HMR is already falling behind regions inthe South of Germany and often busy competing locally(within itself) instead of globally. As a result, HMR is notdelivering at a level that a region of its size could do, asevidenced by its low labour productivity. An urgent shiftis required to jointly re-focus energy and funding acrossthe four federal states on shared core strengths that canput HMR on the world map and generate benefits for allresidents in the region: innovation, education, and humancapital; digitalisation; planning; renewable energy; culturaland tourism branding.13

Develop an integrated regional innovation strategyA joint focus on clusters in sectors such as energy, lifeand health sciences, food industry, and maritime industrywill tap into synergies, create new jobs, and achievegreater international visibility and competitiveness. Inparticular, HMR holds a unique competitive advantagein the renewable energy sector (especially wind power),both in Germany and in Europe. There are high hopesto benefit from technological advances in research onhydrogen fuel cells. Stronger collaboration to develop aclear, integrated regional innovation strategy will generatebenefits for all of HMR, including the city of Hamburg.Building on the successful experience of NEW 4.0 and theaviation cluster, the four states are strongly encouragedto develop an integrated regional innovation strategy thatconsolidates overlapping initiatives and promotes a moreefficient approach to knowledge creation and diffusion.A regional innovation agency could be established forthis purpose, with adequate capacities and resources.Intensify national and European co-operation on innovationStronger co-operation between the HMR and Germanand European functional regions will help enhance theHMR’s own capacity for innovation and complementits existing strengths. Given their geographic proximityand already existing economic linkages with the HMR,the Copenhagen-Malmö-Gothenburg-Oslo corridor is a14natural partner for collaboration. In particular, supportingfurther research co-operation between XFEL and theEuropean Spallation Source (ESS) research facility locatedin Lund (Sweden) would yield significant mutual benefitsto the HMR and international partners.

Invest in strengthening education and human capitalBoosting education and human capital is a key componentof enhancing economic development in HMR. Policymakers need to increase the low level of R&D while alsostrengthening science-industry linkages that are currentlyundermined by a mismatch between research andbusiness needs of enterprises. Facilitating collaborationacross research institutes and firms from all parts of HMRwill yield additional benefits for technology transfer andknowledge creation. A co-ordinated approach will alsoraise the national and international profile of HMR, which,in turn, will boost its capacity to alleviate the widespreadskills shortage by attracting skilled workers.Exploiting the full potential of new research facilitiesshould be a joint priority for policy-makers in HMR. TheEuropean X-Ray Free-Electron Laser Facility (XFEL), inconjunction with the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY),opens up unprecedented research opportunities andmanifold possibilities for combining research with privatesector development. If managed successfully, they canattract further world-class researchers and highly skilledworkers, establishing HMR as a globally leading location.The four federal states of HMR need to strengthen theirco-operation to take advantage of the economic andsocial benefits that XFEL and associated applied researchin sectors such as material or life sciences generate.Seize the opportunities of digitalisation to nurture newsources of growth and improve public service deliveryConsidering that digitalisation will have a significantimpact on production and work processes and changethe skills demanded by the labour market, public, private,education and research sectors across the four statesneed to join forces to provide workers with the necessarytraining. For example, life-long learning and up-skillingopportunities should be further expanded to ensure thatolder employees are not left behind in the change thatdigitalisation will bring. Given the lack of large firms in theHMR economy, targeted support to help SMEs transitioninto digital technologies and solutions is particularlyrequired.Opportunities to raise the daily well-being of residentsthrough the digitalisation of public service delivery shouldalso be pursued further across HMR, particularly in remoteareas. The expansion of broadband infrastructure needsto continue, especially in rural areas. Intelligent transportsystems could make HMR an international leader in themobility sector, thus further strengthening the regionaleconomy. The upcoming ITS World Congress in 2021provides a unique opportunity to enhance mobility andtransport solutions in HMR to raise international visibilityas well as create jobs. Digital services such as ride-hailingand vehicle-sharing applications have great potential toimprove mobility in rural areas and should be furtherdeveloped.15

Improve regional planning for housing and transportQuantitative and qualitative assessments need to becarried out to ensure that the housing stock keeps pacewith the needs of the population and developmentpatterns, which vary across the HMR. While demand forsingle-family houses seems to be rising across the HMRin the future, demand for apartment buildings appears tobe increasing in and around its urban core but decreasingat its fringes. Between 2015 and 2030, demand for floorspace available per resident overall is forecasted toincrease between 12% and 15% in the first ring aroundthe urban core (more so than in the urban core itself).Considering that land consumption increased faster thanthe population in all parts of the HMR (except in Hamburg)between 2000 and 2015, there is a need to encouragemore compact development of towns and cities. Thehousing stock for low- and medium-income groups inthe HMR should be expanded, particularly as the stockof social housing in Hamburg decreased between 2006and 2017. Conferring spatial planning competencies toa regional planning association, which could establish aregional plan covering all or a significant part of the HMR,would help overcome the fragmentation on the housing16market, better match housing supply and demand, andcurb the rise of house prices and rents.Bottlenecks in rail and road transport in and around thecity of Hamburg need to be alleviated. A shift from roadto rail for freight transport should also be encouraged.Accessibility in rural areas needs to be improved, forexample by implementing a single tariff scheme acrossthe HMR and harnessing the potential of digital mobilitysolutions and public-private partnerships, which canhelp reduce spatial disparities in mobility and meetenvironmental goals. Municipalities and districts couldfurther leverage digital solutions and public-privatepartnerships to ensure mobility in rural areas. On-demandmobility services integrated with the public transportnetwork, for example, have the potential to reach HMRresidents throughout the region and improve accessibilityin peripheral areas. The common regional plan for theHMR mentioned above should integrate housing andtransport planning and promote more sustainable, transitoriented development.

Leverage the region’s biodiversity and leadershipin renewable energy productionThe protection of natural areas to improve environmentalsustainability and preserve their recreational value playsan important role in building a cohesive region. Greaterco-operation should take place across administrativeboundaries on Biosphere Reserves, for example. Energyefficiency in buildings should also be encouraged. Taxincentives may also be needed in the case of new buildings,as applying energy standards is sometimes consideredas being at odds with the imperative to increase theconstruction of housing. Retrofitting existing buildingscan also be costly for low-income households that would,however, greatly benefit from lower energy costs. Toencourage energy efficiency throughout the HMR, urbanand regional development plans should include energyconcepts for production and consumption.Measures need to be taken to retain and improve theacceptance of renewable energy production throughcitizen participation. Municipalities taking part in renewableenergy production should invest in informing householdsand engaging them in co-planning of renewable energyproduction sites, wherever possible. Districts and federalstates also need to include adequate modalities to informand engage residents in strategic and regional plans.17

Join forces around a common cultural and tourismbrand as a driver of balanced regional growthLeveraging the HMR’s cultural assets will help raise thevisibility of the whole region to the outside world andstrengthen the attractiveness of the HMR to visitors,firms and skilled workers. The HMR should build on thestrengths of being a heterogeneous region in the areaof tourism by offering a diversified range of activitiesand attracting visitors that will spread throughout theregion. The interplay between urban and rural areasshould be used as a key selling point. A joint marketingcampaign promoting attractions in and around Hamburg,from coastal areas and cities of the Hanseatic league tothe urban core, could convince tourists to discover newplaces and stay in the regi

Hamburg Metropolitan Region spans four federal states and a heterogeneous mix of urban and rural areas. With about 8% of national territory, the Hamburg Metropolitan Region (HMR) is the second largest in Germany, just behind the metropolitan region of Berli