Policy areas

Organisation name City of Dortmund

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Contact person: Michaela Bonan

The Nordwärts project has existed for more than 10 years and has its main emphasis on the economy and on the general quality of life of the people here. Those responsible for the project are working with stakeholders in urban society to develop strategies to respond to the local and civil society challenges. These are caused by demographic change, structural change and the changes many are undergoing in the transformation to a knowledge-based society. In this project, based on the involvement and commitment of civil society, a development strategy is being devised for the northern districts of the city of Dortmund. Citizens, stakeholders, politics and the city’s administration have joined forces to discuss ideas and to cultivate needs-oriented projects, suitable for developing the local area covered by the Nordwärts project for the good of the whole city.

The strengths of the administration and the whole of the city’s civil society are being brought together to give the project area innovative impetus. The project has ensured that many people participate in the main Nordwärts project, and in the development of innovative and transferable sub-projects. Both familiar and new forces within the stakeholder landscape have been brought together. Areas of work and topics, which had previously not been combined, have now been linked up to make use of as many synergies as possible. The project strengthens how people identify with their own neighbourhoods, develops and redevelops available space to be future-proof and sustainable, safeguards jobs and creates new ones by attracting companies to locate to this area.

The skills and expertise of the scientific institutions, the business community and the local people are integrated in the process and new sustainable multi-level governance structures, which break down silos, are being put into practice. Citizens and stakeholders are actively informed and included in the idea-finding and project development processes, or receive support to develop their own projects. The methodologically diverse public relations work and strategic marketing attract people’s attention to the project and the processes of project development.

Public awareness of the overall project is intensified by bundling activities and by providing centrally organised proactive communication about the results and progress of the process steps. An advisory committee made up of members of civil society accompanies the process, provides administrative support and is a permanent participation platform for civil society; it is thus the overarching strategic project advisory body. Working on a voluntary basis, it advises the city authorities and the political decision-makers on all the strategic questions regarding the project.

The process experience gained during this project enables people to initiate further positive, sustainable developments and to set up new structures in civil society. Long-lasting interdisciplinary cooperation allows more networks to emerge, harnessing non-monetary resources and skills for determining and implementing the project. The overall project is managed on the basis of a transparent mix of external and internal management structures, and is carried out on the basis of a jointly developed monitoring and evaluation system. This makes it performance-oriented, highly innovative and forward looking. Knowledge transfer between actors is guaranteed and makes the overall process transparent. Coordination processes are speeded up, enabling decisions to be made quickly. Instruments and procedures are developed and refined together. The structure, controls and transparency of the project mean it is a model for future-proof, innovative and transferable municipal process management.

Between May 2015 (when the project was started) and 2017 (submission for EPSA award) 517 articles related to the overall project were published. Some 35 lectures have been held and there have been 25 publications in the specialist media. In 110 participation or information events, around 5700 people have taken an active part and contributed their ideas. A large number of people have also been reached through the specialist talks and press work. After the first year of the project, 17% of the population knew about the Nordwärts project (based on a representative survey of citizens).

Nordwärts is described as a best practice in the memorandum NRW gestalten by the state government of NRW in 2017 as a strategy for the ‘future of urban life’ and will continue its activities beyond the EPSA 2017 application cycle.

People’s participation in the overall Nordwärts project and in the development of innovative and transferable sub-projects ensures there is a broad-based participation process. Since the project started in May 2015, a wide range of actors have been taking part in discussions involving the whole city and civil society. People listen to each other, contribute new ideas, and develop solution strategies and strategic projects. Implementing them gives the neighbourhoods in the project areas an innovative boost.

The Nordwärts project area, defined in a political decision-making process, comprises an area of approximately 12 324 hectares, which is 44% of the total area of Dortmund. Of the twelve districts in Dortmund, seven of them are completely or partly within the boundaries of this designated area. More than 40% of Dortmund’s inhabitants live in the Nordwärts area (approximately 234 723 people); that represents a population density of around 2174 inhabitants per km².

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