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Together, acting sustainably, innovatively, holistically and courageously to future-proof our city
City/Region : City of Geestland , Germany

Geestland does not just work on one of the ten agendas of the Basque Declaration, but instead takes a more holistic approach. Since 2005, this has been a continuous process that can be seen across all the work of the municipality and not just in individual projects.

First and foremost cooperation with all partners (citizens, politicians, other Authorities and Institutions, Companies) of the City is the most important thing. The city is desgined together with its citizens to ensure its sustainability. The local people are the biggest asset to acheive something.

Agendas addressed
DecarbonisationUrban mobilityBiodiversity
Greenfield land and natural spaceWater resources and air qualityClimate change
Public spaceHousingSocial inclusion and integration
Local economies and employment
Pathways followed
  • Ensure equal access to municipal services
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
  • Nurture a sharing economy
  • Capitalise on local economy and production
  • Create and close local value chains
  • Apply innovative financing approaches
  • Implement sustainable procurement principles
  • Pursue a shift towards a circular economy
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
  • Accelerate sustainability and innovation through public procurement
  • Guarantee equal access to information & digital services
  • Support open data standards
  • Prepare policies for socio-cultural changes due to innovation
Context

Geestland is a municipality comprised of 16 villages, with a population of 32,000 inhabitants and is located in the district of Cuxhaven in Lower Saxony.  With a geographic size of 356 km², Geestland is the second largest municipality in Lower Saxony and the tenth largest in Germany. However, It is very rural.

Geestland as a municipality has a societal obligation to its citizens. Geestland was established on 1 January 2015 following a merger between the former City of Langen and the former municipality of Bederkesa.The work of the municipality needs to focus on issues of generational justice and demographic change. In light of this, economic, environmental and social conditions play a major role. Limited resources and increasing demands pose challenges that Geestland has to face. To meet these challenges effectively we are following guidelines we have put in place. Since 2005,  the Mayor has been working together with politicians, residents and businesses to create decision-making processes in order to act sustainably. For more information about the city, click here. (In German)

In Action

Since 2006, sustainability has been a determining factor for the City of Geestland and formerly the City of Langen. The Background is as follows: Although all municipalities were already obliged by law to comply with the principles of economy and efficiency, it was foreseeable that the realignment of the coming requirements would entail changes in all fields of action. More tasks, less money. In 2008 the Council of the former City of Langen adopted guidelines for ensuring the future capacity of the municipality. These initial guidelines formed the basis of the future work and strategic orientation of the City and initially included only the topics of education, family and economic development. Dwindling resources and increasing demands are still challenges for the local communities, so these guidelines are constantly evolving and adapting to changing societal conditions and demographic challenges. The current version, which is the third version, was approved by the City of Geestland Council at a meeting on March 14, 2016 and currently covers 17 topics.

Our stakeholders are and were the politicians, business people, inhabitants, other institutions and authorities, and colleges. Open and transparent acting is very important. We are not acting against each other, we are acting together for a good future for future generations. Even the politicians. And that is not the usual rule. Innovative ideas for example: The Mayor delivered free to your house to discuss problems from the inhabitants at their homes. We have signed two “Future Contrats” to get money from our provincial government Lower Saxony. We have used all possibilities to get money from everywhere to reduce our debts. Development of our debt. We have big lists for that. This is just a small excerpt:

Year 2004 City of Langen and Municipality Bederkesa together Money debt    -53.643.409,33 €

Year 2017 City of Geestland Money debt -23.816.638,57 €

We also aware of our global responsibility. We have a municipal climate partnership with the district of Leribe in Lesotho. “Sustainability is geared to the future. A central component of sustainability is the justice for life in a society. Requirements for a functioning and accepted sustainability in a municipality is the trusting and credible collaboration between politics and the administration. When this becomes visible to the citizens they are ready to support and sustainable measures for the future. Overall sustainability is a convincing interplay between politics,administration and the  society,” says the Council President Mr. Steffen Tobias.http://www.geestland.eu/staticsite/staticsite.php?menuid=595&topmenu=12

Results

The biggest win was the victory of the German Sustainability Award last year. “In Geestland we have been working intensively and wholeheartedly for years to align our actions with the needs of our grandchildren. Winning this Award was a big recognition that does really well and draws attention to the important topic that is urgently needed, " emphasizes Mayor Thorsten Krüger.

Important key achievements:

  • Exemplary function for other municipalities
  • Very good visibility far beyond the region
  • Participation in the certification process for other sustainable communities
  • Organization of an own sustainable Award in the City of Geestland funded by the prize money of the German Sustainability Award
  • Foundation of a sustainability advisory board in the city of Geestland
  • Establishment of citizen forums for the development of a local sustainability strategy
  • The Mayor Thorsten Krüger is to be appointed as an Ambassador for Sustainability in September by the German Association of Towns and Municipalities
  • Up to ten municipalities interested in sustainability can visit the City of Geestland to get an overview how to become sustainable
  • Working together with a company for the first VTC System to burn green cut, leaves and sewage sludge in connection with a woodchip heating to heat our Moor-Therme (Swimming pool and sauna)
  • Membership in a Hydrogen Association in order to get a hydrogen filling station
  • Planning of green hydrogen with wind turbine

We are not only talking about sustainability we are acting as much as we can.

Impact

The City of Geestland has become an interesting place for people to live, and companies to base their enterprises. The “World of Experience” of the people takes place in the municipalities. Our crime rate is very, very  low, our cultural and leisure offers are versatile and affordable (music schools, libraries, theaters, cinemas, moor spas, senior citizen meeting places, etc.). Public transport is good. There are enough primary schools and kindergarten places available. We have nurseries and all-day day care. There are city festivals and many other events. We have plenty of playgrounds and green areas and a lot of forest. Contrary to the general trend, Geestland has an increasing population. As a result of the sustainable measures described,  more money has been saved and is now available for further activities.

Streetlights before and after conversion to LED (indicated by bills)

1.200.000 kWh  x 0,263 €/KWh = 316.000 €/Annual = 600 tons CO2 before conversion

338.000 kWh    x 0,263 €/KWh =    89.000 €/Annual = 169 tons CO2 after conversion

215.000 kWh    x 0,263 €/KWh =    57.000 €/Annual = 108 tons CO2 after installation with
intelligent control technology      

Number of jobs (statistics from the federal agency for work)

Year 2012       10.526

Year 2013       10.511

Year 2014       10.633

Year 2015       10.913

Year 2016       10.996

Year 2017       10.996    

 

The City of Geestland is currently reporting on the German Sustainability Code. The finances are monitored according to the specially created financial cockpit.

Challenges and lessons learned

To prepare the City for the future and to make it worth living for the citizens. Sometimes it also means moving in the field of tension between the different and sometimes conflicting topics. Sustainability means thinking and then acting. Geestland attach's great importance to citizen-oriented and innovative measures. But it is worth it. We only have one World. And even small actions can lead to big things like plastic bag-free days or buying regional and seasonal products. The reward for that: Satisfied citizens, stable finances, despite investments. A future for the next generation according to the Brundlandt report.

Refugee Company Tackling
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Contact

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
European Secretariat

Leopoldring 3
79098 Freiburg
Germany

Tel.: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 0
Fax: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 19

E-mail: info@sustainablecities.eu
Website: www.sustainablecities.eu

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