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OB-Barometer: Climate is currently the most important municipal task

The annual survey by the German Institute of Urban Affairs (Difu) shows that compared to the previous year significantly more mayors regard climate as the municipalities’ most important current area of action.

The urgent challenges that the cities and towns are currently facing include climate change mitigation, COVID measures and the creation of affordable homes. That is one of the findings from this year’s Difu cities survey, which was conducted in January and February 2022. For the first time and by a long way, climate tops the list of the current most important areas of action and it was mentioned by almost two thirds of towns and cities. The topics of “housing” and “mobility” also remain high on the agenda. Above all, the town and city leaders from the large and Southern German cities mentioned these topics. The survey does not yet reflect the issues resulting from the war in Ukraine; the municipalities are currently addressing them to a considerable extent, and will likely continue to do so in the future.

OB-Barometer: Biggest need for action is found in the topics of climate change mitigation, coronavirus crisis and housing
OB-Barometer: Biggest need for action is found in the topics of climate change mitigation, coronavirus crisis and housing

Despite the restrictions imposed on all areas of communal life by the COVID pandemic, the second year of the crisis has shown that a routine in dealing with the pandemic has been developed so that prevention and living with COVID is no longer top of the agenda. However, the impact of the pandemic continues to be a topic for the towns and cities, although these issues are largely considered to be less serious or more manageable than in 2021. This point is particularly applicable to the reduction in tax income that had been feared last year. It can be attributed to the fact that the German government and federal states generously compensated the municipalities for commercial tax losses in 2020. Nevertheless, the challenges arising from the threat to the existence of retail and gastronomy, the cultural scene and the desertion of town and city centres are regarded as serious. In this way, the importance of the development of town and city centres continues to increase, which in part can also be contributed to COVID. With backing from the support and investment programmes of the German government and the federal states, the necessary transformation process of the town and cities centres will be a topic for the municipalities for years to come.

OB-Barometer: Areas of action: energy, climate change mitigation, sustainability
OB-Barometer: Areas of action: energy, climate change mitigation, sustainability

The areas of action, in which the town and city leaders would like better framework conditions from the federal states, the German government or the EU, have only slightly changed according to the 2022 OB-Barometer: digitalisation, housing and finance were mentioned most frequently. In comparison to the previous year, the topics of housing, mobility and climate change mitigation have become more important. These largely unchanged challenges can be interpreted to mean that the hoped-for improvements have not (yet) come to pass to the desired degree from the municipalities’ point of view.

OB-Barometer: Corona
OB-Barometer: Consequences of the coronavirus

Die Handlungsfelder, in denen sich die Stadtspitzen bessere Rahmenbedingungen durch Länder, Bund oder Europäische Union wünschen, haben sich laut OB-Barometer 2022 nur wenig verändert: Digitalisierung, Wohnen und Finanzen werden am häufigsten genannt. Im Vergleich zum Vorjahr haben die Themenfelder Wohnen, Mobilität und Klimaschutz an Bedeutung gewonnen. Diese weitgehend unveränderten Forderungen lassen die Interpretation zu, dass die erhofften Verbesserungen aus Sicht der Kommunen offenbar (noch) nicht oder nicht im gewünschten Maße eingetreten sind.

For the “OB-Barometer” the mayors of German cities with over 50,000 inhabitants have been surveyed annually since 2015. The objective of the representative survey is to determine a general overview from the perspective of the city and town leaders regarding the most important challenges – both currently and with a look to the future.

from: Difu-Magazin Berichte 2/2022