The Berlin Forum
Berlin is growing. This entails opportunities and risks. A strategy for the future that is jointly elaborated by the political authorities and civil society helps to make full use of the opportunities and reduce the risks.
Government cannot simply dictate a strategy to the city and its residents. But government and civil society can develop such a strategy together.
Civil society has to prepare and adapt to play this role.
The society of a city is distinguished by a heterogeneity of interests, perceptions and voices. It is fragmented, but it can do more: It also involves the desire to share a city in common, identification with the city, knowledge about its opportunities and hazards, interest in and responsibility for the common good, the ability and the will to cooperate. Our project wants to mobilise these abilities of urban society.
This is why we have set up the Berlin Forum. “We” are the Stiftung Zukunft Berlin (Berlin Future Foundation) and – up to now – seven organisations of the civic life of the city: BUND: Friend of the Earth Germany, Caritas, the Evangelical Church, the Landesmusikrat (Berlin Music Council), the Landessportbund (Berlin Sports Association), the Paritätische Federation of Welfare Organisations and the ver.di trade union. Together, we are the joint founders of the forum.
The Forum has been active since the beginning of 2019. Its aim is to foster the collaboration between civil society and government on fundamental issues concerning Berlin’s future. The basis of the Berlin Forum consists of 50 personalities, who bring the city’s different perspectives and concerns into it. The point is to draw on the different competencies, susceptibilities, experiences and objectives that Berlin’s residents have at their disposal.
Four meetings of the Berlin Forum take place each year. The results of the substantive work of the thematic working groups are discussed in the meetings and the further substantive direction of the Forum is agreed upon.
We have successfully invited “government”, as represented by the parties present in the city’s House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus), to the Berlin Forum, and they have made a commitment to participating actively in it.
The Berlin Forum creates and embodies a space for discussion and negotiation that is meant to fulfil two functions: firstly, to sketch out ideas and strategies for Berlin’s further development in the 21st century, in order to build on local strengths, make use of global opportunities and remedy structural weaknesses. Secondly, the Berlin Forum is meant to bring together government and administration, on the one hand, and, on the other, civil society and civic initiatives in which compartmentalised thinking and particular interests do not predominate, but rather the willingness to cooperate and an orientation towards the common good.
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