HVGP joined the congress Future for All

The HUMBOLDT-VIADRINA Governance Platform participated with two Workshops at the congress Future for All: just. ecological. achievable. which was organized by the Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie. The congress was held from the 25th to 29th August in Leipzig, due to Corona most of the inputs took place digitally. The congress dealt with questions of how a fair world can be created through visions and feasible plans, furthermore it was about connecting social movements from different countries. In more than 300 workshops and 20 panel debates it was discussed how we can shape the future 2048 in the areas of education, art and culture, energy and climate, housing and agriculture.

In a first workshop on 27 August 2020, the Humboldt Viadrina Governance Platform presented its project EnVision – Shaping a Vision for Energy System Transformation in an online workshop. The discussion material collected in the project was reflected upon with a group of participants from citizens and organised civil society. The event was moderated by Anja Bodenstein, the background to the project was presented by Katja Treichel.

We asked the participants what they think about the theses of the project, such as whether there is a communication problem with energy system transformation, whether more opportunities for participation are needed, or whether a vision is needed to promote energy system transformation in Germany and to bring society more closely together behind the idea: From “acceptance to embracement”. The majority of participants supported the project theses and contributed new ideas. For example, Fridays for Future would have helped to make energy system transformation more attractive to young people. Furthermore, it was important that the facts were presented correctly in the media. There was enough knowledge available, but it had to be prepared in such a way that positive narratives could be created that could be understood by everyone. It was also important to start early in education: the energy system transformation was not discussed enough in schools. There is a lot of potential here. KatjaTreichel presented another project of the platform on this point: Energiewende Partnerstadt, in which European municipalities exchange ideas bilaterally and a German municipality, for example, presents a solar racing car game in Polish schools to introduce pupils to the topic of renewable energies in a playful way.

Regarding the visions, the participants agreed that they would help to get people on board. However, there would also be competing and partly negative visions. In the opinion of the participants, implementation visions were needed, not new technologies. The Corona crisis had shaken up the debate. Now is the time to reflect on the energy turnaround and rethink.

The second workshop from HVGP named “Politics of Proximity without Proximity” discussed the current problems when applying local participation. It was moderated by our managing director Daphne Büllesbach. The workshop participants discussed the opportunities and challenges of local participation together with a co-founder of Barcelona en comú Xavi Ferrer, the founder of the Commons Networks in Amsterdam Sophie Bloemen and as well with Malisa Zobel, head of the HVGP’s municipal integration and development initiative.

The current contact restrictions under Covid-19 make local participation more difficult but at the same time intensify digital networking. Efforts to bundle different local initiatives in various political fields are not ending: For example the “Fearless Cities” network is planning a conference on issues of municipalism in Amsterdam in spring 2021 and the “From the sea to the city” alliance is building on the will by municipalities to host refugees in Europe.

A transnational network of tested local solutions can bring change, especially in policy areas that are blocked at national or international level. Examples from the post-Soviet area of local participation, such as the use of participatory budgeting, showed how difficult it can be to apply a positive term of solidarity and that the respective socio-political background have to be considered in transnational networking.

It became very clear that local initiatives in cities or municipalities can provide important impulses through demonstration effects. No matter whether it is about urban development and participation, energy transition and sustainability, the integration of refugees or the structural development of communities: Local results make changes tangible and can inspire other cities and communities.