Future City Malchin - Vision 2030+
Organisation : KMGNE+Projekthof Karnitz / Future City Malchin , Germany

In 2015 the German city Malchin began a transformative action initiating a co-creative process of making Malchin ready for the future. Connecting diverse members of society, the regional administration, citizens of the city and neighbouring rural areas and external experts, the "Future City Malchin" is taking action to re-imagine and re-design its infrastructure, energy systems, education and democratic participation practices in order to address the present and future challenge of a globally changing world. In developing stories from the future, Malchin, with its Vision 2030+, is at the forefront of the "Grand Transformation" (WBGU). With 20 years of transformational expertise, Projekthof Karnitz e.V. and KMGNE function as a mediator, advising the city about its process

Agendas addressed
DecarbonisationUrban mobilityGreenfield land and natural space
Water resources and air qualityClimate changePublic space
HousingSocial inclusion and integrationLocal 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
  • Implement sustainable procurement principles
  • Pursue a shift towards a circular economy
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
  • Guarantee equal access to information & digital services
  • Support open data standards
  • Prepare policies for socio-cultural changes due to innovation

Karnitz/Neukalen is a little village located in the municipality of Malchin, a small city in the heart of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Like most regions in this state, Malchin and its neighbouring districts are still impacted negatively by the former GDR’s policies on housing, mobility, and social structures. On top of those issues there are rural infrastructure problems compounded with strong demographic changes and rural depopulation. With high unemployment numbers and disenfranchised cultural and political self-identification mechanisms at play, as well as the need for social, economic, and ecological change, a movement in and for the city and surrounding regions has led to the development of a co-creative citizen science process of future transformation processes under the moderation of KMGNE and Projekthof Karnitz. The initiative tackles climate change mitigation/adaptation, housing, mobility, health and energy transition(s). It was awarded by the German Ministry of Education & Research as one of 51 "future cities" in Germany.

Future City Contest:

Stories from Malchin - project blog:

In Action

The transformative action that the city of Malchin implemented in its co-creation process is based on a multi-stakeholder, citizen-lead dialogue process initiated and mediated by KMGNE+Projekthof Karnitz under the scientific advice of Dr. Joachim Borner and collaborating professionals of regional universities and organisations, as well as a network of media partners and regional/local civil society and business actors. In 2015, under the transformative work title "Vision 2030+", possible stories and narratives were developed in numerous seminar phases including future scenarios of the Malchin region encompassing the SDGs and planetary boundaries in its own specific local contexts – including diverse stakeholders and citizens of different local and administrative expertise (administration, culture, education, planning, politics, youth, seniors, families, migrants).

Mediated by nine workshops, two reading sessions, and four 'future seminars' an adaptational foresight process was co-created – with and for the citizens of the region – to address areas in which Malchin and its surrounding region might face problems (education & work, mobility, health & nutrition, demographic change, climate change, nature-human interaction, urban rural co-development).

Following the motto of Dr. Harald Kegler, an urban development expert involved, saying "A city is resilient or it isn't there at all." and using multiple methods such as the Charrette-Planning-For-Real-procedure, PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal) in combination with PLA (Participatory Learning and Action) and group dynamic techniques such as backcasting, a communal vision under the name "Good Life in Malchin 2030" was conceptualised as a proactive transformative action plan for building urban-rural co-development towards community resilience, addressing and analyzing its own mitigation and adaptation capacities and necessities in face of social, demographic, ecological, economic and technical transition processes.

Professor Dr. Eberhard Göpel, one of the advising professionals concerning citizen participation and public health matters, summed up the process saying "We are a city that is claiming back its physical and mental autonomy." Multiple local and regional media outlets covered different stages of the process and thus added a further dimension of transparency to the project.


The main results can be identified as initiating a proactive and constructive public legitimisation process backed up by expertise from various relevant fields. A future scenario storyline was developed under the premise of addressing future needs and capacities and framing concepts of Malchin becoming an "anchor city" in the region and thus being at the forefront of urban-rural co-developmental transition processes. The overall narrative can be summarised as follows:

The anchor city Malchin of 2030 will be a "climate resilient city of successful nutrition and energy transitions, of sustainable resource distribution for flexible public services, as well as of land use and ecological system performance according to the limits of the SDG and planetary boundary frameworks. New work structures and the regional creation of value from (digital) craftsmanship, 'smart services' and green professions will lead to Malchin becoming a cultural and ecological hotspot adding to the influx of graduates, young families, pioneers, craftspeople and senior citizens with esprit."

In this context Malchin is at the forefront of developing "source spaces" and new innovative guidelines for other cities and regions to follow and modularise their own needs and wants accordingly in the process of establishing patterns of co-productive knowledge and community-based implementation capacities. Key (future) achievements conceptualised so far are the creation of a 'building plan' based on multiple project phases:

  • Phase 1: Co-creation of communal visions for the future (Stories from the future)
  • Phase 2: Transfer of the ideas developed in phase 1 into (in)formal structures and institutionalised action capacities (education campus, centre for entrepreneurship and resilience, academy for climate resilience)
  • Phase 3: Operationalising Phase 2 into the given infrastructure of the city (location/building/networking/staff/etc.)

Being in the transition between phase 1 to phase 2 at the moment, the goal is to start the implementation process between phase 2 and 3, phase 3 starting in 2018. The impacts already accessible are thus still more in the ideal phase than concretely measurable in real-life/real-time situations. Nonetheless, a major impact area is the co-creation of all phases of the project with multiple-stakeholder involvement – providing a transparent legitimisation process across all axes and thus redistributing knowledge and power (and through this action potential) from traditional top-down hierarchies of process dynamics to a more bottom-up approach. From this perspective, the transformative impact to be accounted for is the empowerment process of the region through its citizens – a major aspect of co-creating social environments of inclusion, participation and the co-production of citizen science knowledge.

Plans for initiating phase 2 and ultimately leading to the "Reallabor" – the real-life experimentation of these vision planning procedures– in phase 3 and beyond, which will enable the participants and monitoring to measure, re-analyse and re-configure further steps and actions. The creation of supervision groups accompanies these steps of implementation actions.

Concrete achievements and first implementation impulses are the ongoing processes of establishing a digital education landscape, connecting a citizen university and future start-up investment incentives for graduates from the region. A citizen foundation is being set up to act as a political mediation forum between the regional administrative organs and different work groups for and with citizen participation.

Regarding decarbonisation practices, biomass facilities are installed and further regenerative energy production and consumption plans underway. The energy self-sufficiency per capita is already over 100%.

Challenges and lessons learned

From the experiences gathered in the first phases of the project – taking into account the resource intensive communication strategy needed to connect all stakeholders – some crucial aspects of future learning can be framed around the essential role education and research plays in the process of transformative actions – providing methods and tools (cultural learning arrangements) for citizen involvement and participation and the sense of self-empowerment in order to co-create "robust social knowledge": The competencies for resilience need to be addressed in an interconnected fashion across regional, city and individual spheres.



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