International SDG expert conference on Mannheim’s new mission statement

International SDG expert conference on Mannheim’s new mission statement

In a two-year process, the City of Mannheim and its citizens are working out a mission statement describing how Mannheim should look in 2030. To this end, the current eight strategic goals of the City of Mannheim are being compared with the 17 SDGs and further developed accordingly for municipal implementation in Mannheim. 

Kick-off event for the development of a new mission statement for  Mannheim was the Urban Thinkers Campus in 2017. Together with the citizens of Mannheim and national and international experts it was discussed how the New Urban Agenda, which was adopted in Habitat III, can be implemented exemplarily at local level. 

In addition to numerous citizen participation events during this year, the city of Mannheim also took part in the World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur which was the first major conference after Habitat III to discuss progress in implementing the New Urban Agenda (NUA). The City of Mannheim presented the implementation of the SDGs at municipal level using the example of the mission statement process. The results from the Word Urban Forum were included in the further process. 

Recently, a three-day international conference on Mannheim’s mission statement process took place from 17 to 19 October in Mannheim. 

The aim of the expert conference was to review the technical aspects of the draft mission statement before it is submitted to the local council for final approval. In this way, it is to be ensured that the results produced correspond to the level of the technical discussion on Agenda 2030 and are compatible with national and international processes. For this reason, German and international experts discussed and refined the draft mission statement in panels on the topics of "equal opportunities", "democracy and urban society", "international affairs", "climate protection", "sustainability", "business" and "culture". 

The participants were able to contribute their local experiences with the Agenda 2030 as best practice examples and discuss them in an international context. "The concept of nation states is challenged because most questions of the 21st century cannot be answered by answers from the 19th century. Against this background, it is only logical that new actors should appear on the 2 political stage: cities, city cooperations and city networks," said Lord Mayor Dr. Peter Kurz at the opening ceremony. "In the meantime, we regard cities and city networks as independent actors in the effective connection of the various political levels". 

The international experts came from Mannheim's partner cities Haifa (Israel), Berlin Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf (Germany), Klaipėda (Lithuania), Bydgoszcz (Poland), Windsor (Canada), Qingdao (China), Zhenjiang (China) and Czernowitz (Ukraine) as well as from the cities Hebron (West Bank) and Kilis (Turkey), with which there had been joint projects in the past. Other experts came from the Network Foundations and Education, the University of Mannheim, the Mannheim Evening Academy, the German Association of Cities and Towns, the City of Bonn, the Mannheim Association for the Promotion of Town Twinning, the ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, the Climate Protection Agency Mannheim, the One-World-Forum Mannheim, the market research institute Holzhauerei Mannheim, the sociodimensions research, the Linguistic Corporate Communications, the University of Public Administration Kehl, Port 25, the theater hall G 7, the cultural and political corpotation Rhein-Neckar as well as the Mannheim City Administration. 

The international experts contributed a wide range of best practice examples to the discussion. For example, employees from the Polish city of Bydgoszcz reported on a project to improve energy efficiency in public buildings. This is in line with the 13th sustainability objective: "Take immediate action to combat climate change and its implications". An employee of the Palestinian city of Hebron presented the Takia food house, where needy people can eat free of charge regardless of gender, skin color or religion. Hebron is thus contributing to the second sustainability goal, which is "securing food". The City of Windsor has launched a project in which the design of public parks is to contribute to reducing the development of extreme heat in the city. This project contributes to the implementation of three sustainability goals, namely the 3rd: "Healthy live for all", the 11th: "Sustainable cities and settlements" and the 13th: "Take immediate measures to combat climate change and its implications". 

Against the background of the results of the working groups, the mission statement will now be finalised and presented to the local council on 18 December. 

Article by Christina Grasnick
Photo Credits: Thomas Rittelmann