The 2019 Mayors Tour was successfully completed with 16 government officials and business leaders from Tianjin participating this year. Over the course of two weeks, the delegation visited several cities in the Ruhr area as well as Munich in the Southern part of Germany, discussing the ongoing structural change, the energy transition towards renewable energies and climate change and its implications.
In the Ruhr area, the delegation visited the European Green Capital Essen, the Innovation City Bottrop, the Logistic Hub Duisburg, and the Energy Pilot City Herten. Topics include
1. Strategies of Structural Change
The Ruhr area has specialized on heavy industry for more than 150 years, however, since the late 1950s, due to the decline in demand and rising competition which made the coal and steel industry unprofitable to produce, the area with more than 5 million inhabitants had to reinvent itself.
The delegation had bilateral meetings with a number of city officials discussing new strategies on addressing the unemployment problem and exchange ideas on how to integrate new service industries. The delegates also visited the old coal mine of the Zeche Zollverein, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The process of reutilizing the former coal mine as a public urban space has been almost completed and reflects a pilot case of successful adaptation to the Ruhr region’s structural change. Over 55 % of all former employees have found new job opportunities in the service sector. But the Ruhr area has a lot of remaining problems: as such, often former “working-class families” have missed out on basic education and therefore struggle to integrate in the new labor market.
2. Role of public participation in the scope of the Ruhr region’s structural transformation
The traditional model of government has been replaced by a flexible system of communication and adjustment between public and private actors called public-private governance. The general public has actively participated in the transformative process, attending round tables, workshops and projects including the restoration of the Emscher river, the reutilization of the former coal mines and the museums or landscape parks showing the history of the area.
3. Promoting the use of renewable energy
When visiting the city of Bottrop, the Mayor outlined the city’s approach of promoting renewable energy as Bottrop considers itself an Innovation City. Bottrop Mayor Bernd Tischler said the city decided a decade ago to concentrate on its strengths and focus on its energy supplies evolving towards renewable supplies in line with the national energy transition. That constitutes an enormous endeavor since the majority of the Bottrop residents have come connection to the coal industry. But industry and citizens alike saw the need for a new vision that fit the new national policy environment.
District Mayor of Tianjin, Mr. Jia meeting the Mayor of Bottrop, Mr. Bernd Tischler
In Herten, the delegation visited the hydrogen center and hydrogen filling station in Herten in the Ruhr area. (For more information, click here)
In Munich, the delegation visited the city hall and attended several meetings with different city officials. Topics included for instance
a) EU-Project: Smarter Together Munich
The City of Munich is receiving EU funds of approximately 6.85 Million Euros for Smarter Together, initiated by the EU-funded Horizon 2020 Programme. The German government’s 2050 Climate Plan has set ambitious targets: consequently the primary energy consumption of the existing building stock has to be decreased by at least 80 percent. In response to that, Smarter Together defined goals for the Neuaubing-Westkreuz project area:
- Refurbishment of a total 42,000 m2 of living space to a high energy standard wile fixing current rents.
- Increase of the renewable energy portion in the heat and electric power supply.
- Cultivation of residents’ awareness of energy behaviors and a healthy interior climate.
b) Strengthening Fair Trade
Fair trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South. The City of Munich is trying to promote fair trade with its partners in the global south.
Clemens Baumgärtner (Head of the Department of Labor and Economic Development of the City of Munich) exchanging gifts with Mr. Jia, District Mayor of Tianjin.
c) Restoration of Isar (Learn more about it by clicking here)
d) Development of a new district Freiham and Redevelopment of old industrial area Werksviertel Mitte (Click here, to find more about it)