Demographic change is a challenge for municipalities: Innovative local solutions are required, especially in structurally weak regions, in order to remain or become more attractive for all generations in all phases of life and as a location for business. The project “Workshop for the Future of Municipalities” supports the participating municipalities in finding such solutions and developing demographic strategies that also cover integration and take all age groups into account. The aim is to develop concepts to shape the consequences of demographic change in municipalities (neighbourhoods in large cities, towns, communities, districts), to develop concrete factors for attraction and retention, to strengthen municipal identity, and to integrate people with a migration background into an intact social community.
40 municipalities (neighbourhoods in large cities, cities, communities, districts) will be supported until the end of 2024 with external consulting on shaping demographic change on site in the “Workshop on the Future of Municipalities – Remaining Attractive through Change” (WFM). Concrete projects will be launched while existing initiatives will be integrated and networked in a meaningful, effective and long-term way.
The WFM is part of the overall German support system for structurally weak regions, which was established within the framework of the Commission on “Equal Living Conditions”.
The essential elements and features of the model project are:
- External consulting for municipalities,
- A five-stage project system (consisting of kick-off, community profile, future workshop, workshop plan and interim balance), which was developed in the model project “Demographic Workshop for Municipalities”
- Individual freedom of municipalities regarding topics within the framework of the project objectives.
It is important to ensure the participation of local residents and strengthen the participation of all age groups in an ageing society, as well as to further develop the identity of the municipality, and consider digital concepts and lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Demographic change is one of the most significant megatrends of our time, making it a central political task for every municipality that intends to remain attractive in the long term. It also has an impact at the municipal level on
almost all policy areas.
Demographic change encompasses more dimensions than the aspects of ageing and population decline that are most often discussed in public discourse. Demographic change also includes the heterogenisation of society through migration. Immigration will not stop the long-term decline in the size of the population, but it can slow it down and holds potential, for example,
with regard to the labour market.
Municipalities have to respond to all these processes of change. In order to remain attractive as a residential and business location for companies and for all generations in all phases of life, or to make municipalities more attractive, it is important to
develop individual innovative solutions for the respective locations.
Without question, the regional economic structure, the labour market and the wage and earnings structure continue to play an important role in the attractiveness of regions. However, classic regional policy that is solely oriented towards the labour market is clearly not enough, especially in view of the ageing and diversification of society.
Accessibility and quality of services of general interest, social cohesion, local opportunities for the future for young people and young families, and the integration of immigrants are increasingly important here. These are becoming the new hard location factors for the economic development of structurally weak regions.