Spring into Climate Protection: „Karlsruhe Green City“ with „Karlsruhe Climate Spring“
City/Region : City of Karlsruhe , Germany

The transformative action “Karlsruhe Green City” has been running since 2016. An exemplary highlight was the “Karlsruhe Climate Spring” in May 2019 ( This campaign period was organized as part of the City’s awareness raising measures on climate change. It reflected the wide range of citizen and NGO initiatives and ideas on climate protection. During one month, numerous local stakeholders and the City administration promoted a more climate-friendly lifestyle. The varied programme included lectures, excursions, guided tours, participatory activities, climate-friendly festivals and other creative contributions. The importance of climate protection for a healthy "Green City" was thus experienced in many ways.

Agendas addressed
DecarbonisationBiodiversityGreenfield land and natural space
Water resources and air qualityClimate changePublic space
Social inclusion and integration
Pathways followed
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
Themed marketplace:

In Karlsruhe, as a growing city, increasing competition for land endangers existing green areas and reduces space for new green. However, green infrastructure is crucial for quality of living, climate change adaptation and biodiversity protection.

The City of Karlsruhe addresses this situation through its Climate Change Mitigation Strategy (2009,, Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (2013,, Framework Plan for Climate Adaptation (2015, and Open Space Development Plan (2018), it also works on a Biodiversity Concept.

“Karlsruhe Green City” ( is an overarching, transformative policy defined as one of 6 strategic municipal topics in 2016. It promotes sustainable urban development in a joint approach with citizens in the fields of nature, climate and health.

A central aim is to invite citizens to bring in ideas and initiate “pitch-in projects” to develop local green spaces. They are then responsible for implementing and maintaining their projects with support from the City administration.

In Action
Tranforming muscle energy into a smoothie on the

A key element of “Karlsruhe Green City” is civic participation in sustainable urban development. There is a high level of civic commitment in the urban society on related issues.  At each of the two idea workshops for the "Green City" that have taken place so far, around 100 committed and creative citizens developed numerous ideas for new projects, some of which have since been implemented with the support from the City administration ( According to the Mayor for the Environment and Climate Protection, "citizens are the experts for positive developments in their own environment. The City wants to use this potential for the benefit of all and specifically supports corresponding projects".

Against this background, the approach of the Climate Spring Campaign was to work together with citizen groups and stakeholders to design a colorful programme around climate protection.

The City of Karlsruhe invited all interested stakeholders via press release, social media and targeted mailings lists to register their project ideas on the website The Environmental Protection and Occupational Safety Department collected all contributions, assisted in finding a suitable format, and compiled the programme, which was published in print and online. It was available in shops, libraries and on different websites and social media. The participating groups used their communication channels to address their target groups, thus reaching a wider audience than the City’s PR alone.

In addition, the City of Karlsruhe organized several days around “themed marketplaces” with information stalls and interactive stations, e.g. on organic food, energy and nature. The last day of the campaign was branded as the “SDG-Day”, illustrating Karlsruhe's broad commitment to the 17 sustainability goals of the Agenda 2030. On the themed days, the participating groups had the additional opportunity to present their work on climate protection and sustainability.

One participating group reflected the day as follows: "As the theme of the day was set and we had designed our stall with hands-on elements, we had good discussions at the stall. For us the day was worthwhile, because we tried a different form of our stall presentation, allowing us to make progress in our own work."

In terms of resources, the organization and implementation of the Climate Spring Campaign, the City-led events, and the support and assistance of groups required a preparation time of around 6 months, a budget of around 25,000 Euros and staff expenditure of in total around three person-months.

The letters

The “Karlsruhe Climate Spring” as part of “Karlsruhe Green City” involved citizens through participatory implementation and encouraged local private and civic engagement. At the same time, it gave a comprehensive overview of current topics, activities and offers of different initiatives that are available to the local population. Finally, it allowed all citizens of Karlsruhe to take part and get involved.

In sum, around 35 private groups and NGOs, several public institutions and the City administration contributed with a total of 66 individual events to the campaign, either addressing the general public as a whole or designed for specific target groups, e.g. families, school children, homeowners.

The diversity of formats – reflecting the variety of the participating groups – ranged from informative events, e.g. lecture on the impact of climate change on fruit farming, guided tour though a eco-housing area, to active events like walking and biking tours in the city and the surrounding region, and to hands-on-formats, e.g. carving wooden presents, collecting waste in public green areas, DIY bike repair workshop.

The Mayor for the Environment and Climate Protection wrote in her preface of the booklet: „The programme impressively shows how diverse practical climate protection can be in everyday life and how rich the opportunities and offers for climate-friendly action in Karlsruhe are already today. However, many contributions also underline how urgent and decisive it is that we take action in climate protection: for the future of our own and future generations - in Karlsruhe and worldwide.”

The number of participants was not counted at each event, but the feedback of the organizers was very positive, e.g. for a movie night with around 150 participants. The groups who responded to the City’s evaluation stated that they were satisfied with the participants’ resonance and would be happy to get involved again.


It proves difficult to find appropriate indicators to measure the effect of awareness raising at the level of the local population and the impact of the campaign on individual behaviour in terms of a cultural change towards a more climate-friendly lifestyle.

However, we were able to observe a rise in interest in issues around climate protection in the public debate, especially because the Climate Spring Campaign interacted with the Fridays-for-Future movement and the local political discussion around the declaration of a “climate emergency”. It furthermore supported the current work on updating the City’s Climate Change Mitigation Concept.

A good indicator for the public visibility of the Climate Spring Campaign is the media coverage. Thereby, we can draw conclusions on the number of persons, who were informed about the topic. There were 7 articles in 4 different print newspapers and magazines with a circulation of between 20,000 and 112,000 households. 12 social media articles were published on Facebook and Twitter by different users. In addition to Karlsruhe’s own website and associated websites, 28 external websites published news on the Climate Spring Campaign, e.g. NGOs, associations, schools, interest groups, and networks.

Another impact was the possibility for the participating groups to network with each other and identify synergies. In order to support and facilitate networking beyond the Climate Spring Campaign, the City of Karlsruhe offers groups and initiatives the possibility to be located on a map via the Web App “Agenda 2030, sustainability in Karlsruhe” and thereby to gain greater public visibility ( The climate Spring Campaign furthermore allowed the City administration to establish new contacts, to get to know groups previously not involved in the City’s activities and to deepen existing contacts. For people interested in getting involved, the events allowed getting to know and getting access to relevant groups.

Challenges and lessons learned
Presentation and information stalls of different groups on

The format of the Climate Spring Campaign is easily replicable by other cities. It is also replicable for other topics in Karlsruhe, which can build on the existing umbrella structures of the administration’s Green City policy.

It is essential to distribute the call for contributions as widely as possible in order to reach and involve groups that were so far not represented. It allows getting to know their work and projects, also with regard to further cooperation. The more diverse the participating groups and their ideas are, the more diverse, creative and attractive the programme becomes for the general public.



ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
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