International Cities Forum 2021
22 and 23 June 2021

How can cities contribute towards a sustainable and viable world and how can the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) be achieved?

Every year in June, the state capital Kiel and its international partners exchange views on a specialist municipal topic at the "International Cities Forum". 

The focus of this year's forum is the topic of sustainability.

Against the backdrop of major global challenges such as climate change and social inequality and the associated effects on the economy and society, representatives of Kiel's partner and friendly cities will discuss the question of what contribution cities and municipalities can make to a sustainable world fit for the future.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015 will serve as a frame of reference.

The International Cities Forum 2021 will take place digitally in English on 22 and 23 June. The second day of the Forum, on which the results from the subject-specific workshops will be presented and discussed in greater depth in a panel discussion, will be shown live on the internet.

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The countdown has started
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President of the City Council Hans-Werner Tovar shortly before his opening remarks
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Talk on SDGs with Dr. Ulf Kämpfer, Emma Döhler and Miriam Gyamfi
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Everything in view from the control room
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Some of the main players - Dr. Ulf Kämpfer, Miriam Gyamfi, Emma Döhler, Hans-Werner Tovar and Jens Martens
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The director has everything under control
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Meike Oltmanns and Robert Sochacki monitoring Workshop 1
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Miriam Gyamfi moderating Workshop 2
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Frauke Wiprich and Lisa Eglhofer monitoring Workshop 2
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Jan Johannsmeier moderating Workshop 3
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Hannah Bahr monitoring Workshop 3
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Daniela Roth monitoring Workshop 3
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Lisa Eglhofer, Daniela Roth, Gabi Vosgerau and Wolfram Lenz at the chatdesk
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It's done! Stefanie Skuppin, Frauke Wiprich, Lisa Eglhofer and Daniela Roth


City of Kiel
International Relations and Sustainability
Fleethörn 9, 24103 Kiel

Frauke Wiprich
Head of International Relations and Sustainability
0431 901-2500

Lisa Eglhofer
0431 901-2561



Wednesday, June 23rd

Open to the public via livestream.

16 - 16.10 CEST

16.10 - 17.00 CEST
Reports and impressions from the workshops
by workshop moderators

Conclusions and preliminary findings on key challenges and opportunities

17 - 17.15 CEST
Short break

17.15 - 18.30 CEST
Panel discussion
with Mayor Dr. Ulf Kämpfer (Kiel), Jens Martens (Global Policy Forum New York/Bonn), Gunilla Bökmark (City of Gothenburg),  Saul Samwel (Municipal Partnership Coordinator, Moshi District Council)

18.30 - 18.45 CEST
Closing remarks
Hans-Werner Tovar, President of the City Council Kiel


Tuesday, June 22nd

Closed sessions for registered city representatives only.

16 - 16.15 CEST
Welcoming and Opening remarks
Hans-Werner Tovar, President of the City Council Kiel

16.15 - 16.35 CEST
Key Note Speech
Jens Martens (Global Policy Forum New York/Bonn)
“The contribution of cities and municipalities to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs)”

16.35 - 17.05 CEST
Talk on SDGs and sustainability in Kiel
with Dr Ulf Kämpfer, Mayor of the City of Kiel and Emma Döhler, Chairwoman of the Young Council, City of Kiel

17.05 - 17.15 CEST
with Dr Ulf Kämpfer, Mayor of the City of Kiel and Emma Döhler, Chairwoman of the Young Council, City of Kiel

17.15 - 17.30 CEST
Introduction to workshop session

17.30 - 17.45 CEST
Short break and check-in to virtual breakout rooms

17.45 - 19.45 CEST
Parallel workshops on the three dimensions of sustainability

Workshop 1: Educational equity and sustainability
Presentation of best practice I, Kiel
Presentation of best practice II, Gdynia

Workshop 2: Sustainable economy
Presentation of best practice I, Kiel
Presentation of best practice II, Brest

Workshop 3: Climate protection through renewable energies
Presentation of best practice I, Kiel
Presentation of best practice II, Vaasa

Access Data

The access data for participation in the conference have been sent to the registered participants by e-mail one week before the conference.

The livestream of the public part of the conference on 23 June can be followed on this website or via


Keynote speech

The contribution of cities and municipalities to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs)

Jens Martens will give an overview of the important role of cities in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Jens Martens is an economist and political scientist. He is Executive Director of Global Policy Forum and has been the Director of Global Policy Forum Europe since its foundation in 2004.

Since 2011 he has coordinated the international Reflection Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Since 2016 he has been editor of the global civil society report “Spotlight on Sustainable Development". He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Development and Peace Foundation (SEF).

He has published more than 100 articles and several books and studies on sustainable development, UN reform, global governance, privatization and corporate accountability.

Jens Martens

Also interesting

Workshop 1 - Educational equality and sustainability

More than five years after the SDGs entered into force, sustainability is still often regarded as a primary ecological topic, and many people immediately think of “education for sustainable development” when addressing the theme of sustainable education.

A sustainable and high-quality education can, however, also be understood as a kind of social work for the future and as the basis for achieving many other SDGs, not only the ecological ones. Poverty, good health and well-being, gender equality, social inequality, to name just a few, all correlate strongly with the level of education.

Education can contribute towards overcoming poverty and provide people with employment, or enable them to earn more money or make a better living.

Likewise, educating girls and women can empower them to overcome discrimination and assert their rights. This makes education an important component on the path towards more gender equality, which is still a major challenge across the globe.

In addition, a higher overall level of education can reduce the income inequality within a community, because when the level of vocational training is higher, people from disadvantaged groups are more able to participate equally in prosperity. If more people around the world do not receive access to a high-quality education, then real progress with almost all the SDGs will be hard to achieve.

Also, in a transforming world, high-quality education can help lay the foundation for handling the challenges of the future more resiliently.Climate change or a digital working world are just two of a whole list of topics that will require continuous change and adaptation to new conditions in the future.

People who cannot keep up or who refuse to keep up often respond with denial or reactance. But sustainable education must enable precisely this ability to keep up. We need particular efforts in this sector, therefore, as well as intelligent distribution of resources and broad access to educational opportunities.

Even if this mainly applies to children and young people, a high-quality education throughout the entire lifespan is necessary in order to involve as many people as possible.

This challenging task makes cities and local authorities particularly significant because they have multiple educational institutions, such as nurseries and kindergartens, various schools, colleges, universities and extra-curricular educational institutions like adult education centres. Accordingly, it is also the cities’ responsibility to be actively involved in shaping education at local authority level in the sense of the SDGs.

All in all, education equips learners in every generation with the necessary skills and values they need to be responsible citizens of the world. This means investment in education and promoting educational equality at local authority level forms a substantial part of the development of a country and its people.

With this in mind, the key question arises as to how education in general and educational equality in particular can contribute towards the sustainable development of our cities - and how the cities can drive this forwards.

  • Which strategies is your city pursuing in order to establish broad access to educational opportunities and more educational equality? To what extent do your approaches differ to ensure more educational equality for children, young people and adults (keyword: lifelong learning)?
  • Which options do cities and local authorities have in your country to influence the educational sector?
  • Which specific measures is your city undertaking to reduce social inequalities in the educational sector? Which approaches is your city pursuing in order to reduce the number of school dropouts? What advisory services are there to support the transition from one educational level to the next (nursery/kindergarten - school, school - job, school - university/college)?
  • How can the way be paved towards a sustainable future at local authority level and which role can education play in this?
  • How can the economic and ecological aspects of sustainability be incorporated into the topic of educational equality?



SDG 4 Quality Education

Workshop 2 - Sustainable economy

Our industry is changing. This is illustrated by current debates on electric mobility, energy modernisation in buildings, the energy transition, the recycling industry; on unacceptable production conditions that are inhumane or involve cruelty to animals in agriculture, the textile industry or in manufacturing office and electronic devices.

Demand for socially and environmentally friendly products is increasing; social acceptance for a fundamental change in the economic system is greater than ever before. Companies responding to this have advantages; doing so offers new business opportunities.

The problem is that it has not yet been possible to separate economic growth from energy and resource consumption. The demand for energy keeps rising and with it global CO2 emissions.

The volume of global waste keeps growing, too.

And a large number of workers are still subject to unfair and sometimes inhumane working conditions. Only when companies generate profits in a socially and environmentally friendly way - consistently and from the outset - can we talk about having achieved a sustainable economy.

Local authorities play a special role in the economic perspective: cities themselves are businesses and market players with their services. Sustainable economic development offers chances and potential which must be utilised.

In this workshop we will discuss which opportunities local authorities have to create the framework conditions for a sustainability-oriented industry.

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  • What forms of sustainable industry are of interest to your city, and do you also see this topic as a driving force for innovation?
  • How can local authorities promote forms of sustainable industry?
  • How important is the subject of sustainability for companies in your city/region?
  • To what extent does sustainability have to be reflected in the development of commercial areas?




Workshop 3 - Climate protection by renewable energies

The ecological dimension forms the starting point for the term sustainability and can be traced back to the forester Carl von Carlowitz, who lived from 1645 to 1714.

He determined that the number of trees felled in a forest must not exceed the number that can be regrown naturally. The principle of sustainability should ensure that a regenerative, natural system is maintained in its essential characteristics for the long term.

Sustainability, with regard to ecology, means handling nature in a far-sighted and considerate way, which enables everyone on earth - both today and tomorrow - to satisfy their needs.

Protecting the natural ability of our ecological systems to regenerate is the most important prerequisite for this, because this is the only way to guarantee access to natural resources and other services provided by the ecosystem which are essential to our survival.

These include cultural aspects like nature’s recreational value, which has experienced more appreciation during the coronavirus period, in addition to regulatory services in terms of soil quality, climate conditions or water quality, which have a direct impact on our provision.

Through humankind’s increasing use of resources, however, more and more environmental problems are arising, such as climate change, the hole in the ozone layer, loss of biodiversity, erosion and desertification as well as pollution of the soil, water and air, which are placing this ability to regenerate at extreme risk

Climate change - global warming of the earth caused by humans - is a focus of current public debate.

Against this backdrop, cities and local authorities across the globe have committed to massively reducing climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions as their contribution to climate protection. Local authorities therefore assume a central role within the energy transition.

Alongside mobility, sustainable energy provision in particular plays a key part at local level. The focus here is on regenerative energy generation and reducing energy consumption.

Cities have numerous possibilities here: starting with the choice of light bulbs, through to using roofs of community properties for photovoltaic systems and replacing old coal power plants for long distance heating with modern technologies.

  • Are there expansion targets for renewable energies in the areas of heating, electricity and fuel at local authority level and, if so, what are they?
  • What strategies, instruments and measures are there in your local authority to achieve the targets?
  • Which incentives can your local authority create to reduce electricity consumption and promote the use of renewable energies?
  • How are the citizens in your local authority involved and included in the process of converting to renewable energies?
  • How can the economic and social aspects be thought through (e.g. electricity prices/access to renewable energies for people with low incomes; mediating renewable energies in educational projects)?




Talk guests and speakers

Johannes Albig

Johannes Albig

Johannes Albig is a psychologist and has worked in family counselling in different areas of Kiel and with a diverse array of families. Two years ago he became head of division in the Department of Education, Youth, Culture and Creative city. 

His focus is on aspects of sustainable investment in young people as well as the digitalization of schools and other areas of education. Having lived in the US and in Northern as well as the Republic of Ireland, he has a multinational view on education and social services.

Gunilla Bökmark

Gunilla Bökmark

Gunilla Bökmark is currently the Director of International Relations at the City of Gothenburg, Sweden. She works close to the Mayor in international questions and is responsible for the City's partnership cities and with the in- and outgoing high level international visits (including protocol).

Before joining the City of Gothenburg, Gunilla Bökmark was the CEO of Sahlgrenska Science Park for ten years. Sahlgrenska Science Park is one of the City's three science parks and works mainly with innovation in the life science area.

Gunilla Bökmark holds a masters degree in chemical engineering, she graduated 1986 from Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg. She has also many years of various management positions in the business sector.

She has a lifelong experience of the international venue due to her up-bringing.

Emma Döhler

Emma Döhler

Emma Louisa Döhler has been doing her FSJ at the Lilli Nielsen School since last August and represents her district Kiel-Mitte in the Young Council of Kiel. In this function, she works to ensure that people with disabilities and refugees are well integrated. She also stands up for the interests of pupils (better infrastructure at schools, student ticket for public transport). 

In the Young Council, she is on the Executive board and is a member in the Committee for Transport and Construction.


Dr Öngün Eryılmaz

Dr Öngün Eryilmaz

Dr. Öngün Eryılmaz is an organizational development consultant with a long-term commitment to systemic and societal change. She has a specific focus on promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in organizational settings, supporting strategic partnerships, and building ecosystems. 

She is passionate about challenging the status quo, bringing together different perspectives and backgrounds, and helping teams to realize their potential. Together with Jan Johannsmeier Öngün will facilitate the city forum’s workshop on the ecological dimension of the SDG.

Miriam Gyamfi

Miriam Gyamfi

Miriam Gyamfi is a certified organisational developer with a propensity for social entrepreneurship. She regularly advises teams and organisations on meaningful paths towards sustainable change. She has a keen eye for the requirements of effective communication and collaboration. 

During the city forum she is in charge of the overall conference moderation as well as the workshop on the economic dimension of the SDG.

Jan Johannsmeier

Jan Johannsmeier

Jan Johannsmeier is a Geographer, organisational developer and mediator. Besides his diverse thematic work in development cooperation, he has another passion in fostering good cooperation within teams, organisations and their cooperation system respectively. Thus, facilitating dialogue and exchange among different stakeholders is key to all of his assignments. 

During the city forum he will moderate the workshop on the environmental dimension of the SDGs as well as the panel discussion.


Sebastian Jung

Sebastian Jung

Sebastian Jung is an economist and a certified organisational consultant. After 10 years in the field of international cooperation, he advises a huge variety of organizations worldwide. In his work, he combines systems theory with mindfulness. He is always on the lookout for theories and methods that provide a deeper insight into social fields. Together with Miriam he facilitates the workshop on the economic dimension of the SDG.

Dr Ulf Kämpfer

Dr. Ulf Kämpfer

Dr Ulf Kämpfer (SPD) has been Mayor of the Land Capital Kiel since April 2014 and currently serves his second term. The lawyer and former Secretary of State of the Schleswig-Holstein Ministry of the Environment won 65.08 per cent of the votes as the joint candidate for the Social Democrats (SPD), the Green Party (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), the Nordic Minority Party (SSW) and the Free Democrats (FDP) in the last direct elections for Kiel’s Mayor in October 2019.

Ulf Kämpfer is also Head of the Economic Department of the City of Kiel, Chairman of the Schleswig-Holstein Association of Cities and Deputy President of the German Association of Cities.

Topics and challenges that are particularly important to the Mayor are the social cohesion of the people of Kiel, the advancement of the mobility transformation and the development of Kiel into a climate-neutral, future-oriented northern European city that brings together global and local responsibility.

Jens-Peter Koopmann

Jens-Peter Koopmann

Jens-Peter Koopmann is a graduate physicist and certified energy and environmental manager. He has been climate protection coordinator in Kiel since 1996. 

Today, he heads the Climate Protection Department at the Environmental Protection Agency which now consists of ten people. His attitude to work comes from the philosopher Karl Popper: " Optimism is a duty".


Jens Martens

Jens Martens

Jens Martens is an economist and political scientist. He is Executive Director of Global Policy Forum and has been the Director of Global Policy Forum Europe since its foundation in 2004. 

Since 2011 he has coordinated the international Reflection Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Since 2016 he has been editor of the global civil society report “Spotlight on Sustainable Development". He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Development and Peace Foundation (SEF). 

He has published more than 100 articles and several books and studies on sustainable development, UN reform, global governance, privatization and corporate accountability.

Jana Marie Mehrtens

Jana Marie Mehrtens

Jana Marie Mehrtens is a certified consultant for systemic organisational development, working with organisations, networks and teams as well as complex multi-stakeholder systems for 20 years, primarily in bi- and multilateral development cooperation. Together with Matthias Wein Jana facilitates the city forum’s workshop on the social dimension of the SDG.

Sandrine Mikol

Sandrine Mikol

Sandrine Mikol is an economic development officer at Brest metropole. After having spent ten years at the core of R&D projects in the field of crop production, Sandrine Mikol chose to use her expertise to help companies and her territory. 

Thus, her assignments within Brest metropole are to support companies move towards more sustainable projects and contribute to the development of future flows, hydrogen and circular economy to meet environmental challenges.


Hans-Alexander Öst

Hans-Alexander Öst

Hans-Alexander Öst is an energetic and innovative energy professional from Vaasa, Finland, with a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from Åbo Akademi University. He has over 10 years of experience in project management, sales and business development from global energy business. One of Hans-Alexanders passions is to develop and support the transition to carbon free renewable energy.

In his current role as Development Director at Finnish energy utility Vaasan Sähkö, he is driving the company towards sustainable green energy production, with a goal to reaching carbon neutrality before 2030. Hans-Alexander is also active in the Finnish energy community as board member in several Finnish energy clean tech companies. 

Bartłomiej Przybyciel

Bartłomiej Przybyciel

Bartłomiej Przybyciel - Deputy Head of the Education Department at Gdynia City Hall.

A graduate in political science. He was in charge of implementation of the Resident's Card in Gdynia. Actively involved in supporting digital innovations in Gdynia educational institutions, such as comprehensive management of children's attendance in kindergartens by means of the Resident's Account service or online booking of school sports facilities. 

Member of Digital Gdynia, an interdepartmental team working on the development of e-services in the city.

Einar Rubin

Einar Rubin

Einar Rubin is the authorized representative of the Kiel economic agency (“KiWi”) and head of the department for project development and real estate affairs. 

Over the last 12 years he and his team were responsible for nearly every transaction of industrial real estate on behalf of the City of Kiel. He especially deals with the development and reactivation of new industrial real estate and several office buildings. In his function he furthermore is responsible for the commercial settlement.


Saul Samwel

Saul Samwel

Saul Samwel holds the position as a Local expert financed by GIZ at Moshi District Council in Kilimanjaro region since 2019. The main role of the Local expert is to further developing the existing partnership projects and conceptualize new measures within the partnership Moshi District – Kiel City. The main objective of this position is to enhance the capacity of Moshi District Council in environment and forest management while strengthening the network of stakeholders within the partnership. 

Professionally Saul Samwel holds a first degree in Environmental Studies and Geography obtained in 2015 at Mwenge Catholic University. Since October 2015, Saul has been performing other supervisory roles through the environment and waste management department in a volunteer position.

Hans-Werner Tovar

Hans-Werner Tovar

Hans-Werner Tovar, a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), has been City President of the state capital Kiel since 2013, currently in his second legislative term. The lawyer and notary has been a member of the Kiel City Council since 1986. 

In his function as City President, he chairs the meetings of the city council assembly and represents it. Furthermore, he is also responsible for the organisation and further development of Kiel's 13 international town twinning partnerships.

Jens Uffenkamp

Jens Uffenkamp

Jens Uffenkamp studied environmental sciences and is a certified energy management officer. 

His area of work in the Climate Protection Department includes CO2-neutral energy generation with a focus on the biomass strategy of the KielRegion and hydrogen as an energy carrier of the future. He is also responsible for setting up an energy network for the KielRegion.


Steffen Volk

Steffen Volk

Steffen Volk (M.Sc.) studied economic geography and political sciene and works as an urban and regional developer at the Kiel economic development agency (“KiWi”). There he deals with the sustainable development and qualification of commercial areas in Kiel and the KielRegion.

Matthias Wein

Matthias Wein

Matthias Wein has worked in the sustainable development field for the last 10 years, both in different NGO leadership positions as well as an external consultant. 

He advises companies, and public institutions and non-profits worldwide on strategy and organizational development as well as change management. Together with Jana Marie Mehrtens he will co-host the workshop on the social dimension of the SGDs.


Best practices

Many of Kiel‘s sister and befriended cities have already found and established their own answers to the global challenges of the present time, including in particular climate changes as well as social and economic inequality.

These will be presented and discussed during the different workshops with the aim of sharing experiences and helping each other to find a better and faster way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Hereafter you can learn more about best practices from our sister and befriended cities.

The City of Gothenburg has created a Green City Zone to test new technologies for vehicles and infrastructure. It is pursuing the aim of achieving emission-free transport by 2030.

Learn more about Gothenburg Green City Zone.

In 2014, the City Council of Riga adopted fundamental documents on sustainable development of the city until 2030, with urgent and innovative solutions for the climate, environmental and health policies. One of them is sustainable mobility.

Brest supports and offers financial assistance for companies that develop sustainable economic activities. In this way, Brest aims to achieve changes in the environmental, social and digital sector.

Learn more about The Call for Projects in Brest

Translation of the video contribution from the City of Brest for the International Cities Forum 2021

In this civil society project, artists and scientists from all over the world seek to convey a sense of urgency about the climate crisis by combining climate science with the emotional power of music. Music and visual experiences are designed to inspire people to actively engage with the issue of climate change.

Learn more about the Climate Music in San Francisco.

Gdynia, for many years has been continuously developing an urban innovation strategy. Urban Lab is aimed at creating a space for dialogue between the citizens of Gdynia, NGOs and city institutions, including the scientific and business community.

Learn more about Urban Lab in Gdynia.

The „Pollinator Highway“ in Tallinn is a 13.5 kilometers long green corridor between the city districts and a space for people to move around. The „Polinator Highway“ runs along a former railway embankment. Tallinn also participates in the StratKIT Project for a green and sustainable public procurement.

Learn more about the Pollinator Highway and StratKIT Project in Tallin.

A few years ago, the City of Kiel started to transform the historic industrial area “StrandOrt”, where military equipment was manufactured for more than 150 years, into a modern industrial park. The utmost priority here is the economical use of resources.

Learn more about sustainable development in Kiel.

One of the declared objectives of the City of Kiel is to fight against any kind of discrimination, also in the area of education. The City of Kiel is committed to reducing prejudice and fostering diversity in schools.

Learn more about Equal Education in Kiel.

Since 1995, Kiel holds the title of „Climate Protection City“. In accordance with its own masterplan the greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced by 95% compared to 1990.

Learn more about Climate Neutrality in Kiel.


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