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Sitra’s Sustainable Economy Forum in Berlin


The Sustainable Economy Forum headed to Berlin in early November 2012. During the trip, the forum witnessed how sustainable development can be promoted in a great many ways and at various levels of society. The forum members met dozens of parties and contributors on the subject who are all working to create a more sustainable society.

Berlin may not be the first city that you would think about when setting off to find ideas to meet the challenges of sustainable economy. The city is not the economic heart of Germany, quite the opposite. After the unification of Germany, Berlin teetered on the verge of bankruptcy for ten years and remains one of the most debt-ridden cities in Germany.  The unemployment rate in Berlin is nearly double anywhere else in Germany and one sixth of Berliners – more than in any other German city – lives on welfare.

What Berlin loses in economic success, it makes up for in creativity. The city is home to thousands of artists and activists. It has given rise to a huge number of start-ups, which are turning the promotion of sustainability into business.

From the perspective of sustainable economy, Germany is an interesting case as a whole. Social enterprises employ 2.5 million Germans. As a result of the country’s long green history, Germany is implementing a historical energy reform, in which the final goal is to completely replace nuclear energy and non-renewable energy sources with renewable energy.

“Berlin is a city of opportunities,” said one urban activist we met on our trip. The following series of articles aims to provide a taste of how the sustainable economy has been promoted in Berlin and Germany, and what the forum found out about it:

Berlin: a city of opportunities

Solidarity economy gets back to basics

Can companies save the world?

Energiewende – a giant step towards sustainability

How to affect change?