The Berlin Strategy | Urban Development Concept Berlin 2030, Germany
The Berlin Strategy | Urban Development Concept Berlin 2030, Germany - ©Till Budde

The Berlin Strategy | Urban Development Concept Berlin 2030

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City Government, Community / Citizen Group, Research Institutes / Universities

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Whole City/Administrative Region

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Ongoing since 2013/04

The city of Berlin used an interdisciplinary participation process to develop the Berlin Strategy | Urban Development Concept Berlin 2030 to support the city’s sustainable growth.

The city of Berlin is experiencing rapid transformation growth that represents both opportunities and challenges for urban development planning. In managing growth, the city administration is committed to a culture of participation to ensure Berlin continues to be a sustainable and cosmopolitan metropolis. In 2013, the city administration commenced a review process and released a status report on completion. The report analyzed development trends and assessed the opportunities that could help shape the future of the city. The report provides in-depth analysis, drawing on a number of ideas, strategic plans and future policies to build the foundation for the strategic development of Berlin.

Subsequently, a broad participation process was launched and implemented through online platforms and „City Forum“ meetings. The meetings comprised representatives of the city administration, diverse groups of stakeholders and the general public. The aim of the meetings was to define the key priorities to be included in the strategy.

The Berlin Strategy outlines eight priorities that will determine Berlin’s medium- to long-term development opportunities and gives an overwiew of actions the city will undertake in order to effectively respond to present and future challenges. Additionally, ten transformation areas have been identified and set geographical priorities to provide a tangible framework for implementing the Strategy at community level.

Sustainable Development Goals

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Reduce inequality within and among countries
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Berlin, Germany

Size and population development
The population registered for the municipality of Berlin in 2017 was 3,613,500, making it the second most populous city in the European Union. The larger metropolitan area has around 5 million people living in 1,347 square kilometres, giving it a population density of around 15,000 people per square kilometre—similar to Mexico City or Tokyo.

Population composition
It has been estimated that up to 30 percent of Berlin’ s population are of foreign origin. The foreigners originate from other parts of Europe—such as Serbia, Croatia, Poland, Russia, Spain, Bosnian, Bulgarian, and Italian—as well as from countries outside of Europe, such as Turkey, Palestine, Iran, Syria, Egypt and Ghana. The largest non-native population comes from Turkey; in the year of 2010, there were more than 100,000 Turkish registered as inhabitants of Berlin.

Main functions
Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany, as well as one of the nation’s 16 states. It is situated approximately 112 miles (180 km) south of the Baltic Sea and lies in the wide glacial valley of the Spree River, which runs through the centre of the city. The city extends over an area of 891.7 square kilometres and stands at an average altitude of 34 meters above sea level. After the reunification of the two Berlins in 1990, Germany began a process to centralize the capital to Berlin (replacing Bonn, the former capital of West Germany). Since then, Berlin is the place where the German House of Representatives and the German Bundestag hold elections. However, it wasn’t until 2001 that the Bundestag and the government of Berlin were fully established under the same roof. Berlin is also a city of great cultural significance, which is evident if one considers the amount of historical landmarks that tie the city’s history to its multiple overlapping pasts. Some of the most important landmarks include the Holocaust memorial (inaugurated in 2003), remnants of the Berlin Wall (taken down on the 9th of November 1989), the Reichstag Building (which dates to 1884). As the capital of Germany, Europe’s most populous and economically powerful country, Berlin is also the centre of, culture, politics, media and science in the country and serves as a European hub for air and rail traffic.

Main industries / business
As the 4th largest economy of the world, Germany participates of a wide array of industries with a famous efficiency. In Berlin one may find strong state-owned enterprises, like the Deustche Bahn (the railway), which employs the largest amount of general population (more than 20,000 people). Other companies that thrive in Berlin are: the Deustche Post (DHL), the technology company Siemens, the automotive manufacturer BMW, and the telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom. Hence, one may assume that Berlin specializes in the secondary and tertiary sectors of economy. Tourism brings more than 135 million visitors to the city (which include day-time visitors as well as overnight ones). Apart from other student cities in Germany like Köln and Munich, Berlin houses some of the most well-reputed universities in the world: the Freire Universität Berlin and the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, with more than 30,000 students each.

Sources for city budget
Berlin draws its budget for public expenditure largely from taxes, transfers received, fees, fines, and operating revenues. This money is federally approved and spent in such a way that it can also be used in the form of funding for companies, not only to comply with the provision of quality public services.

Political structure
Berlin serves both as a city with a local government and as capital of Germany. In regard to the latter, it houses the Bundesregierung (Federal government), the Bundestag (Federal parliament) and the Bundesrat (the States’ chamber of Parliament). Each of the 16 states of Germany has representation in Berlin. It is governed by the Berlin Senate which is comprised of 10 senators and the Governing Mayor. Also, the embassies of other countries from around the world are housed in the city. The 16 states (Laender) have a similar standing to the federal government in respect to most issues.

Administrative structure
Berlin is administrated by the Senate and its 12 districts or boroughs. The Senate is the city’s central administration, in charge of city planning, public policy, and regulation of public and private spheres. The district administrations decentralize some public functions, with reasonable difference between the various localities.

As the basis for the Urban Development Concept Berlin 2030, the status report consists of a detailed data analysis of the city’s current urban development. It takes a cross-sectional look at the central strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and risks, concerning the sustainable development of Berlin. The report creates the foundation for future conversations on development needs as well as strategies for the city's growth.

The changing general conditions at local and global levels affect various areas of planning. Developing the city in terms of sustainability, appeal and capacity requires integrated planning. Berlin's urban development concept aims to address complex societal, economic, cultural and spatial dynamics with forward-thinking planning and concepts.

The Urban Development Concept Berlin 2030 furthers the city’s existing planning and programmes while expanding upon the underlying strategies for Berlin's city-wide development. Regional planning (e.g. Model Capital Region Berlin-Brandenburg, Industrial Master Plan) flows into the development process, and city-wide and sectoral concepts (e.g. the Urban Development Plans Housing, Transport, Climate). At the same time, the BerlinStrategy | Urban Development Concept Berlin 2030 works closely with the results of the new population forecast for Berlin and its Districts 2011 – 2030. 

The Berlin Strategy provides specific development goals, identify appropriate fields of action for collaborative work and outine a clear vision of what Berlin will have achieved by 2030. Strategic actions will respond to major challenges in ensuring sustainable development of the city. Both individually and together, they form the basis of an integrated approach to urban development.

The Berlin Strategy sets out eight priorities:

  • Strengthening the economy with smart knowledge
  • Unleashing strengths through creativity
  • Safeguarding employment through education and skills
  • Reinforcing neighbourhood diversity
  • City and green growing together
  • Laying the groundwork for a climate-friendly city
  • Improving accessibility and city-friendly mobility
  • Shaping the future together

The Berlin Strategy provides city-wide development perspectives focusing on specific selected urban locations in spatial terms. For these transformation areas, the Urban Development Concept Berlin 2030 describes the targeted direction of development. Target situations are defined while practical approaches to achieving them are also indicated. Transformation areas can be regions that are undergoing change and need intervention from the public sector, that are suitable for location profiling, or play a significant role in the fabric of the city. The transformation areas offer urban development planning the advantage of steering important development decisions in the right direction and setting priorities. This also allows public and private stakeholders to engage in coordinated group actions.

Throughout the process, participation was encouraged using a range of creative analogue and digital communications tools. Written messages in the form of ‘Berlin telegrams’ sent to workstations were posted on the city’s advertising columns and distributed by email and post. To foster community engagement, debates were organized via twitter and the Berlin 2030 City Development Plan’s online platform. The online dialogue was supported by on-site workshops for representatives from the economic and research sectors and the general public, organized according to the City Forum format.

Following the reunification of Berlin, the City Forum was created as a public discussion platform for significant questions concerning urban development. From April 2013 onwards, the City Forum focused on the Urban Development Concept Berlin 2030 under the title "City Forum 2030". A total of five forums were organized and examined the following themes:

1 “Where is Berlin, where is Berlin going?”
The first forum identifed key challenges and social complexities that Berlin is facing today. At the same time, it questionned the urban development of Berlin in a European perspective.

2 “Berlin: social, fair. What keeps the city together?”
As Berlin is growing, it is becoming more multi-cultural. Providing equal opportunities for everyone is a major challenge and securing social coexistence and spatial balance is imprerative to maintain a functioning urban society.

3 “Berlin: economically prospering. What makes the city grow?”
Berlin is the capital of Germany and well known as a place for innovation and research. The city has established itself as a start-up metropolis and attracts creatives from all over the world. However, in comparison with other regions in the country, the economic situation of Berlin is below average. The economic development of the city will be strenghthened through investments in tourism, public services, as well as business and industrial sectors.

4 “The Berlin Strategy: Where Berlin Focuses”

The fourth forum focused on spatial dimension. The goal of the Berlin Strategy is to shape an economically prosperous, fair, ecologically balanced and culturally diverse city. “Transformation areas” have been identified as strategic places for responding to urban development challenges in the city.

5 “Berlin 2030: Forming a city together”

The 5th forum focussed on the joint design of the city. Participants from the general public discussed and contributed to urban design conceps for the city with relevant stakeholders.

The focal point of the city-wide, public consultation process was City Forum 2030, a discussion platform used by more than 2,500 Berliners to express their views. The City Forum 2030 online platform was supported by associated workshops, in which the issues of Urban Development Concept Berlin 2030 were discussed with invited experts. The on-site forum actively integrated partners from research, finance and the general public into the work process. At the same time, acted as a location for political discourse on interdepartmental issues in Berlin´s urban development policy.

In total, the Berlin Strategy collected in excess of 1000 opinions and suggestions at both public and professional events organized around City Forum 2030. These contributions were evaluated, discussed and integrated into the Strategy with additional input from Senate Administrations, local authorities and the scientific advisory panel. Young people were also given the opportunity to contribute their ideas to shaping their city for the future. Coordinated by Kulturprojekte Berlin GmbH and working under the guidance of artists, pupils at three Berlin schools worked on creative projects addressing issues central to the development of Berlin today and tomorrow.

Successful integrated urban development is characterised by value-adding synergies between different goals and fields of action. However, conflicts between these different goals may also emerge during planning exercises and negotiations. In such cases, it will fall to community groups and political institutions to organise a social and political conversation to resolve the issues. This task will require an ability to focus on public interest and transparency, to develop a systematic urban development consultation process and a culture of collaborative dialogue within local government. 

The BerlinStrategy | Urban Development Concept Berlin 2030 specifies strategies and goals to point the way to the future. It serves as a guide for long-term, interdepartemental planning. The Urban Development Concept Berlin 2030 produces coordinated and integrated views in order to promote Berlin as a city with economic opportunity and an attractive, sustainable lifestyle.

- Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung und Umwelt, Berlin Strategie 2030

- Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung und Umwelt, Stadtforum Berlin 2030

- Senate Department for Urban Development and Housing, Urban Development Concept Berlin 2030

- The BerlinStrategy | Urban Development Concept Berlin 2030

- Berlin Strategie 2.0

On the Map

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Want to know more about this project?
Contact our community manager.

Camille Toggenburger
Berlin, Germany

Camille Toggenburger

Individual | Community and Content Manager | urban sustainability exchange

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