In the future, cities will make Europe

Cities are the states of tomorrow. Globally, more and more people live in cities, making them the most powerful and problem-solving places in a globalized world. Nearly 80 percent of the world’s population will live in cities and urban areas. The cities of the world are networking and becoming the new global player. Your new power decides on the central challenges of our time: climate, integration, security and freedom. And also on the future of Europe. Putin’s war against Ukraine is mainly aimed at cities. The most recent photos of Bucha near Kiev and other cities show this brutally. Historian Karl Schlögel speaks of “urbicide”. The war against Ukrainian cities and their citizens is aimed at the European idea of ​​the city.

The mayors collaborate with each other

“If mayors ruled the world, many global problems would have been solved long ago,” wrote Benjamin Barber, an American civil society professor who died last year, in his latest book. According to Barber, cities react faster, more concretely and closer to citizens to crises and challenges such as climate change, integration, security or mobility. Barber founded the “Global Parliament of Mayors”. Over 60 cities and networks are represented there. The current president is the mayor of Mannheim, Peter Kurz.

City policies more effective than national policies

The central trigger of the world mayors has been the common awareness: city politics is more effective and future-oriented than national politics. Cities are more motivated to solve global problems because they can fall victim to them more quickly. For example in the fight against climate change. 80 percent of CO2 emissions come from cities. 90 percent of the world’s cities are located by the sea, a lake or a river. For more and more cities, poor air quality is the biggest risk to the environment and health. The mayors of London, Paris, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Barcelona, ​​Mexico City and Milan have therefore committed to purchasing electric buses only from 2025. They want to be largely emission-free by 2030.

Cities don’t wage wars with each other

What is true of climate change is also true of war. Cities don’t wage wars with each other. Cities cannot declare or end wars because they are not sovereign. Benjamin Barber has described their “absence of sovereignty” as the central reason for their ability to solve problems. Their “lack of formal power opens up networking opportunities”. These opportunities will be more important than ever in the future. There are nearly 100,000 parishes in the 27 EU member states. About 20,000 of them, every fifth has a twin city. The majority was formed after 1945 between Germany, France, England and Poland. After 1990 it became quiet around her. The alleged “end of history” led to a rebirth of the national team. To fight the new global authoritarian temptation, it will once again depend on the cities of Europe. Freedom and peace live on emotional closeness, which in turn generates solidarity.

The 19th century was the era of empires, the 20th century was the era of nation-states, and the 21st century will be the era of cities. This quote from the former Denver mayor is more relevant than ever. “

Futurologist Daniel Dettling

The future of Europe will be decided in European cities

The future of Europe will be decided in European cities, the regional and the global come together in the glocal. It is the cities and their mayors who save the idea of ​​cosmopolitanism from neo-nationalism. The new “urban democracy” has its roots in the old ancient democracy and, like it, is based on democracy from below. The future problems of climate protection, social cohesion, integration and the guarantee of peace cannot be solved by the action of the central government alone.

The germ cells of democracy are the communes. If there is real peace in Ukraine, the support of cities will also be needed for the reconstruction of the country. A large network of town twinning can bring quick and direct help to municipalities in Ukraine and bring people together. Today there are 36 twinnings between Germany and Ukraine. The fact that Ukrainian flags are hanging on German town halls today is a nice sign of solidarity. What would help Ukraine the most is the European flag on its town halls.

The diplomacy of the future is communal

What states take years to do, cities can do it faster. The diplomacy of the future is communal. While the peoples of the democratic world are mainly looking to Kiev in recent weeks, Europe must think about the postwar period. Europe, wave the flag, look at your cities and let them do their thing.

Attorney-at-law and MD Daniel Dettling founded the Institute for Future Policy and heads the Berlin office of the Future Institute.

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