What does climate protection mean in concrete terms for Frankfurt am Main? What is already happening? Where do we still need to make improvements? How do we implement climate justice? These and other questions were the focus of the second randomly selected Democracy Convention, which took place from 30 October to 21 November 2021. On 25 February 2022, the recommendations developed were presented to the public.
Key proposals of the Democracy Convention
- Intensify and accelerate climate policy measures - within the city of Frankfurt, but also in cooperation with the municipalities in the surrounding area.
- Make key information on the city's climate policy measures and offers accessible and transparent
- Communication on climate protection that informs everyone and gives them the opportunity to actively participate
- An ongoing campaign on climate that is relevant, continuous and low-threshold
- Reallocate transport space in favour of public transport, cycling and walking in order to reduce noise pollution and air pollution in urban areas in the long term and to sustainably promote climate protection and the health and safety of residents
In future, all political decisions of the city of Frankfurt should be given a green tick, i.e. assessed for their impact on the climate. The city should commit to transparency in all areas of climate policy and regularly publish its goals and achievements. As part of a communication strategy, a handout should be prepared for the city on how to address different groups. Huan Wei, a Chinese woman who participated, explained that she spoke good German, but other foreigners did not. They felt excluded because many things on the city's website were neither in English nor in simple language. This problem excludes them not only in climate protection.
Cheap ticket and affordable housing
The Democracy Covention also recommends the introduction of a €365 ticket for all residents of the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund area in the short term. Local public transport should be consistently expanded and the frequency optimised. The city is called upon to provide affordable housing close to work for all in order to avoid commuter traffic.
The concrete results of the democracy covent had already been handed over to the responsible department heads Rosemarie Heilig, Department Head for Environment, Climate Protection and Women, and Eileen O'Sullivan, Department Head for Digitalisation, Citizen Service and Participation, on 21 November 2021. In January and February 2022, the participants' proposals were discussed in the committees of the city council. In September 2022, the implementation of the recommendations will be reported on.
Initiative of "Mehr als Wählen"
For this citizens' assembly, the association "Mehr als Wählen" (More than voting) had brought together 50 different Frankfurt residents between the ages of 16 and 83 to let them discuss the topic from a comprehensive perspective. Two-thirds of the participants were randomly selected for this purpose, and one-third were actively included by underrepresented groups. Thus, different political and civil society actors, experts and stakeholders were part of the process in order to cover as broad a field as possible. After all, climate policy touches on numerous other areas. For example, transport, education, construction or housing policy.
At the Democracy Convention, in addition to several successful climate protection projects from Germany and abroad, the energy department, numerous city councillors, the participation and environmental officers and the mayor were also present. Originally planned for autumn 2020, the Democracy Convention had to be postponed several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 61-year-old engineer Günter Horn enjoyed the event: "I was thrilled that the mix of people was so large. In terms of age, profession, but also the most diverse nationalities were there".
"Such initiatives make our democracy stronger"
Lord Mayor Peter Feldmann is also full of praise: "The Democracy Convention is an attractive, well thought-out participation format: there can't be enough of such initiatives these days - they make our democracy stronger," said the patron of the event. The implementation of this democracy convention was one of the demands that Frankfurt's citizens themselves had formulated in their recommendation at the first democracy convention in 2019. In addition to a guideline process for better citizen participation, as well as a central staff unit, the idea of the "Democracy Wagon" has meanwhile also been successfully launched.
"Mehr als Wählen" had organised the Democracy Convention because, in the association's view, a successful climate policy must be both future-oriented and sustainable, as well as socially just. In order to achieve this, a joint negotiation process is needed, which "Mehr als Wählen" wants to support with the democracy convention.
Support from cooperation partners
After the first Democracy Convention in 2019 on the topic of citizen participation, the second Frankfurt Democracy Convention was again supported by a number of cooperation partners: for example, the VGF Frankfurt, which as an official mobility partner guarantees free travel to and from the event by local public transport. In addition, the Palmengarten Frankfurt, the Anne Frank Educational Centre, the Frankfurt Zoo, the Skyliners Frankfurt, and many more enabled a broad connection back to the city society through their cultural vouchers.