HUMBOLDT-VIADRINA Governance Platform gGmbH
Bottom-up approach to green investments projects in Greek and German municipalities discussed in multi-stakeholder forums between the representatives of the municipal authorities, business and civil society to solve structural difficulties in the labor market and energy supply.
Bottrop, Germany, Thessaloníki, Greece
Since 2009 Europe is struggling with the global financial crisis. The most unfortunate course of events occurred in Greece, where the level of public debt exceeded 180% GDP, the youth unemployment rate reached 50%. The economic crisis brought also the political crisis, that can mostly be seen on the North-South axis: Germany-Greece. Meanwhile, a framework for resilient Energy Union was developed, bringing the challenges of energy transition. The need for political solutions on the European level is urgent, however it is also important to enhance a bottom-up approach in the European integration policy. Thus, developing German-Greek cooperation on the municipal level can be a complementing element in overcoming not only the financial crisis, but also the lack of trust in the European Union.
Inviting these 2 municipalities to participate in a workshop with other communities that can share "good practice" approaches to energy supply and quality of labor or exchange their experiences with similar structural problems should bring: 1) better understanding of own limits and chances, 2) multi-stakeholder ownership of development strategies, 3) international partnership for rebuilding European integration. Learning from the experiences of others should be the added value for Bottrop and Thessaloníki. The later follow-up initiative would aim at developing more replicable multi-stakeholder decision-making models for more democratic approach in shaping local investment plans/industrial policy and sustainable development in Europe.
The cooperation between the communities will be based on the proven and successful HUMBOLDT-VIADRINA Trialogs, a discourse approach for formulating consensus pathways on the pre-state level. During a Trialog a wide range of essential social perspectives is uncovered, based on the different experiences and power potentials of the stakeholders and thanks to an argumentative deliberation exchanged among them. The Trialogs create transparency regarding stakeholder positions and open the cross-party way to win-win situations. The first Trialog workshop will take place in Berlin and include communities from France, Poland, Germany and Greece. Evaluation of the outcomes will be delivered by follow-up research based on next workshops and study visits in Bottrop and Thessaloníki.
Funding requested from Advocate Europe
The outcomes of the Bottrop-Thessaloniki Workshop were noticed in Europe! Energy Cities, the European Association of local authorities in energy transition, reports on the project at their webpage.
Our newly published report „Good practice exchange between Bottrop und Thessalonliki” gives an overview of the workshop, that took place in November 2015 in Berlin, and presents the “good practice” ideas developed during the event for the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. Moreover, the report offers innovative and sustainable investment ideas for the local level policies. The policies could be succesfully financed and implemented in the European municipalities, if they are facilitated by a bottom-up approach and multi-stakeholder participation. You can find the report here.
We wish you a pleasant read. Please contact us if you would like to learn more about The European Growth Initiative or discuss your ideas for collaboration!
The Greek-German workshop on November 11 and 12, 2015 in Berlin focused on stimulating social and economic development based on energy transition between Bottrop (Germany) and Thessaloniki (Greece). The ultimate goal is to pursue sustainable green growth at the local level with multi-stakeholder participation and a bottom-up approach as a requirement of good governance. 35 participants joined the event chaired by Professor Gesine Schwan.
The workshop analyzed the potential of “good practice” transfer for investment projects at the local level – irrelevant of the country-specific setting and current economic situation. Representatives of the local authorities, organized civil society and business sector identified possible paths of cooperation and focused on infrastructure development and the enhancement of citizen participation in the local decision-making process. Additionally also a representative of the Greek embassy in Berlin participated in the workshop.
The event was divided into three parts. The first session looked at possible approaches to stimulate local green growth and energy transition. In the second part, the representatives of the two local communities introduced the situation in their municipalities. In the third part, simultaneous workshops discussed possible paths of “good practice” transfers between Germany and Greece. The results of the group work proved an urgent need in Greece to stimulate investment – through local investments and based on local resources. Greek entrepreneurs are willing to invest, but the current economic constraints block them. Local communities in turn are constantly faced with a deficit of workplaces. Bottrop is ready to share its innovation know-how and experience in structural sustainable transformation at the local level. Consequently, there is a deep-rooted political will to cooperate – especially at the local level. One key challenge of such enterprises concerns the strategy of municipalities to apply for financing.
Therefore two presentations on financing options laid the foundation for the workshop discussion at the beginning of the workshop and were further considered during the two-day workshop.
A representative of the European Investment Bank gave an overview of potential opportunities of European Fund for Strategic Investments. The green business association of B.A.U.M. e.V. (Bundesdeutscher Arbeitskreis für Umweltbewusstes Management) touched on the Regional Energy Efficiency Collectives (Regionale EnergieEffizienzGenosschaften) project, as an example for an alternative model of financing energy transition at the local level – focused on energy democracy and so called Bürgerenergie (citizens’ energy).
Growth Initiative - Municipalities for a Strong Europe sees potential for cooperation between European cities which are experiencing similar structural problems. In the exceptional combination of Bottrop and Thessaloniki, the project tries to find answers to some of the current challenges which face local municipalities, including the labor market and energy supplies. A three-way dialogue between civil society, business and the local administration stands at the heart of the approach.