We bring together policy-makers (including administrators), business leaders and organized civil society to jointly develop strategies for the challenges of our time. We support a policy making that moves away from reactive crisis management and pro-actively develops concepts for a just and sustainable future.

Making democracy tangible.

Democracy is in a credibility crisis. Trust in democratic structures is at an all-time low, and right-wing extremist tendencies are increasingly established throughout. For most citizens, democracy is an abstract concept that plays no role in their everyday lives. Many no longer believe in their own political efficacy. This must change. We believe that democracy can come alive and be actively experienced when members of a democratic society come together to jointly develop strategies for dealing with crises and challenges. For this to happen, it is important that those actors meet on an equal level, allowing new strategies to incorporate different perspectives. This has the potential to enhance credibility of policies and there with sustainability of their implementation. We enable this process by facilitating constructive, power-sensitive dialogue – although with a willingness to expand the comfort zone of discussion. Such an approach requires the willingness of all participants to compromise – increasingly rare in a polarized society. For us, working on the topic of democracy always means working on relationships, because that's the only way to build trust and enable a change of perspective.


Political decisions need a broader basis than before if they are to find sustainable solutions in our changing, global capitalist society. Elected politicians must join with organized civil society and the business sector to evaluate decisions and positions. This must happen at all levels, from the local to the global.

Prof. Dr. Gesine Schwan

Complex challenges require more participation.

However, trust in democratic processes is also based on what is known as "output" legitimacy, i.e. on the concrete results of political decision-making. It is often said that politicians are too far removed from everyday life to be able to make adequate policies. We believe that politicians alone can neither fully grasp nor shape the complex reality as a whole, and therefore rely on intermediaries to bring in relevant perspectives in the political decision-making process. Our approach to enhance this is (citizens) participation rather than lobbing. We believe the most proliferate and sustainable way to make policies is by creating spaces, where different perspectives can be discussed and policies jointly developed. Only such a dialogical approach utilizes the necessary creativity and expertise to find sustainable and effective solutions to the challenges of our time.

Projects on this topic

  • Municipal Development Advisory Councils - Shapers of Social-Ecological Transformation

    By April 2025, we will accompany four municipalities in the implementation of a Municipal Development Advisory Council on a specific topic of socio-ecological transformation.
  • Municipal Development Council - Shaping the Future Together Locally

    In a model project, five rural municipalities in Germany are conducting a Municipal Development Council on topics relevant to their future development.
  • Foto von Teilnehmenden des Trialoges „Ernährung, Gesundheit und sozialer Zusammenhalt“

    Trialogue Series Social Cohesion

    As part of BUA's "Grand Challenge Social Cohesion" initiative, the three-part trialogue series "Social Cohesion" was held in late summer and fall 2022. The focus was on the transdisciplinary exchange of 6 Exploration Projects [...]
  • Ein kommunaler Entwicklungsbeirat begleitet die Stadtentwicklung in Weißwasser/O.L.

    Municipal Development Council Weißwasser / O.L.

    In a new project, we support the Great District City of Weißwasser / O.L. in the establishment and implementation of a municipal development council with a focus on the creation of a sustainability concept.
  • Unterkunft von Geflüchteten in Berlin

    Wie können Geflüchtete in Berlin eine angemessene und bezahlbare Unterkunft finden? Inmitten eines angespannten Wohnungsmarkts und zahlreicher Zugangsbarrieren entwickeln wir mit Politik, Zivilgesellschaft und Immobilienwirtschaft Ideen für mögliche Lösungen.
  • Municipal Development Council in Herne

    In Herne, a Municipal Development Council was piloted between January and November 2022. The Council developed a recommendation on the design of a 25-hectare industrial brownfield site in the middle of the city.
  • Trialogue series Future of Democracy

    "Who bears responsibility for the future of democracy? – A perspective-rich discussion series on the relationship between business and democracy in times of global change, protectionism and populism." - a joint [...]
  • Das Logo der Berlin Governance Platform in drei Farben als Favicon. Wir arbeiten als gemeinnützige Gesellschaft im Dienst der Förderung von Good Governance, entwickeln Projekte und Konzepte. Wir schaffen Räume für alle, die eine gerechte und nachhaltige Zukunft mitgestalten wollen.

    Trialoge on the compatibility of family and work in partnership

    Trialogue on the topics of work (time) culture and equality with the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.
  • The working time dialog in trialog format

    Against the background of technological innovations as well as demographic and cultural changes, which are accompanied by new demands on the organization of work, ways of designing an innovative working time policy will be discussed.
  • Trialog Series: German Special Path?

    On behalf of the Senate Department for Urban Development and Housing and the District Office Mitte of Berlin, we implement digital citizen participation: The project "Voices at the Push of a Button" collects ideas via voice messages for the [...]

Publications on this topic