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10th Forum Bellevue

"From the crisis into the future – how can we work together to bring about transformation?"

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier – in cooperation with the Bertelsmann Foundation – issued an invitation to a further event in the series Forum Bellevue on the Future of Democracy at Schloss Bellevue on 24 November.

The tenth event in the series addressed the question "From the crisis into the future – how can we work together to bring about transformation?". Along with his guests, the Federal President examined how we as a society can succeed in bringing about the fundamental changes needed for the future – sustainable transformation – democratically and through democratic cooperation.

The content to be read here is part of the speech given by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the 10th Forum Bellevue on the subject of "From the crisis to the future - how can we work together to bring about a transformation?"


The full speech by the Federal President can be read on >>

The Federal President discussed this issue with Maja Göpel (political economist and Scientific Director of The New Institute), Udo Di Fabio (Professor of Public Law at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn and former judge at the Federal Constitutional Court), Thea Dorn (literary critic, author of fiction and non-fiction) and Wolfgang Merkel (political scientist and Director of the Research Unit for Democracy and Democratisation at the Social Science Research Center Berlin).

With his guests, the Federal President considered the fundamental issue of how to make our democracy fit for the future. How can we work together to bring about sustainable transformation without excluding any groups of society? How can transition opportunities be created and with them the chance for people to be part of the process and benefit from the prospects that the future offers? What democratic processes and institutions are necessary for a successful transformation? Which stakeholders are crucial? What forms of European and international cooperation and coordination are necessary?

The Forum Bellevue series is designed to address controversial issues and present new perspectives. It is meant to be a platform for candid discussions on how liberal democracy can succeed and how it is being challenged. The Federal President and his guests examined various issues, including the effects of the digital transformation, what impact demographic change is having on society’s ability to innovate, the crisis of representative democracy, the role of religion in social and cultural conflicts, and the question of how much inequality democracy can cope with.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal President, 24 November 2020 :

"I remain confident. The restrictions we are experiencing currently to curb the rate of infection are not easy to stomach. But together we will get through the COVID-19 crisis. The virus will not steal our future. On the contrary, there are perhaps even lessons to learn from this time of trial which will stand us in good stead in the future. So it is important that we now also look forward and focus above all on the time after the pandemic. Especially now, in the middle of the crisis, we must not lose sight of the other major tasks facing humanity. We should ask ourselves what we need to change today to stride forth towards a brighter future."

"The fight against global warming is one of the biggest challenges of our time. If we bear in mind not just the immediate ecological threats of climate change but also its social and economic impact on the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people, if we take account of the international conflicts which it will bring in its wake, there is only one conclusion we can draw: it is the biggest challenge of all. What is at stake is nothing less than the future of our children and our grandchildren, the survival of humankind on this planet."

"Activists never tire of reminding us that we have no more time to lose if we want to stop this trend. And it is not least thanks to their commitment that so much is happening in the wide field of climate policy. The countries of the European Union and other major industrial nations have set themselves the target of becoming climate neutral by the year 2050, China wants to produce no more net greenhouse gases by 2060. The target of a climate-neutral world has been agreed but is it really firmly anchored in our future? We know that differing perceptions and, of course, interests are currently at odds with one another. The major question is therefore how we can achieve this goal without endangering prosperity and cohesion, freedom and democracy, and above all without losing the people we need as we move towards this target."


"The great transformations of our time – globalization, digitalization and the transition to the post-fossil era –, these major shifts also put social and political systems to the test. Here at Forum Bellevue, we have talked time and again since 2017 about rifts and resentments in Western societies, about the erosion of trust in the institutions of liberal democracy, about a new yearning for authoritarian solutions. Many of these phenomena are connected to the upheavals of our time – so you could say that today with the tenth event in this series we are hitting right at the heart of the topic."

"Only if we take account of different perspectives, balance out interests, negotiate solutions, seek compromises and convince the sceptics today will we be able to hold our society in transition together and uphold democracy and freedom for tomorrow."

"In this year of the pandemic, we are seeing how much we can achieve if we act responsibly, reasonably and above all together. This is a very valuable experience which can hearten us. And I believe that we have every reason to be optimistic, even – still in the throes of the crisis – when we consider the huge mountain of challenges that lie ahead, not just in terms of climate policy."

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