We #MoveTheDate in Aachen and Wuppertal

The overshoot day marks the date when the used ecological resources and services exceed what Earth can regenerate in that year. For Germany, the overshoot day for 2021 was 5 May, 241 days before the actual end of the year. Amidst such overuse of the planet’s resources, questions such as how to act fast and design effective solutions are of urgency. Our project We #MoveTheDate: Local Responses for a Good Life is working closely with the cities of Aachen and Wuppertal to mobilise city-based initiatives that move the date.

We #MoveTheDate aims to move the date by building synergies at two levels: expanding participation and positioning citizens at the heart of climate engagement. In Aachen and Wuppertal the project is building the necessary frameworks to engage citizens, municipalities, and other relevant actors to promote solutions that #MoveTheDate as well as find ways to multiply them.

“Climate protection is the answer to a social problem that directly affects us all. Therefore, it must become possible for as many different social actors as possible to make climate protection their issue and get involved politically. Especially at the local level, there is great potential to help shape a climate-friendly and resource-conserving future through direct dialogue with city governments. We #MoveTheDate supports such civil society engagement and therefore we are very pleased to support this project,” notes Dr. Lars Grotewold, Head of Climate Protection at Stiftung Mercator, the project funder.

Already, many city-based initiatives are pointing the way to a sustainable future. They can be models for what we need to adopt, expand and replicate to recover from the pandemic and strengthen our resilience. For example, the city of Wuppertal has one of the busiest urban bike paths in Germany despite its hilly landscape. The 23-kilometer Nordbahntrasse has become a popular and fast commuting route for working people and students. The transformation of the former railroad line was initiated by the citizens’ initiative Wuppertalbewegung e.V. and is a prime example of what an engaged civil society can achieve.

“Climate change and exploding resource demands around the world are merging into a perfect storm of resource uncertainty. Fixing our boat and investing in our community is the most obvious way to improve our own chances for a secure future. In doing so, this ‘storm’ also subsides and we can manage its consequences.”, says Uwe Schneidewind, Mayor of the City of Wuppertal

Aachen has laid the strategic foundation for its sustainable and climate-friendly urban development with the Integrated Climate Protection Concept and launched the Öcher Solar Support Program that aims to lower CO2 emissions by 77,000 tons each year. “Embarking on this path is a complex undertaking, but indispensable for a good life now and in the future of our city. Such approaches move the German Overshoot Day,” emphasises Sybille Keupen, the mayor of Aachen.

You can find other inspiring examples of pioneering cities here.

Are you aware of solutions that are moving the date? Let us know! Our contest We #MoveTheDate is looking for inspiring projects, from food rescue to repair cafes, from public projects to neighbourhood initiatives. Submit your entry now on our #MoveTheDate solution map. The best entries posted on the map before the International Environment Day, 5 June 2021, will be shared with wider audiences to inspire and build new synergies.

The project We #MoveTheDate: Local Responses for a Good Life is carried out in partnership with the Global Footprint Network and funded by the Stiftung Mercator.

For further questions, please contact Alexandra Kessler.