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Transatlantic Media Dialogue: Economic Transformation in Aging Industrial Regions


Transatlantic Media Dialogue: Economic Transformation in Aging Industrial Regions

Ruhr Area, Germany

As part of the Transatlantic Climate Bridge, the Ecologic Institute organised a Transatlantic Media Dialogue to discuss structural change and economic transformation in Germany and the U.S.A. The exchange took place from 31 October to 4 November 2010 in Gelsenkirchen and focused on the whole Ruhr region. The dialogue brought together about 25 participants – German and US journalists as well as experts on the topics discussed. The program was complemented by field trips to explore the "European Capital of Culture RUHR.2010".

The Media Dialogue aimed at providing journalists from the USA and Germany with insights on local and regional efforts to craft policies, initiatives, and partnerships to spur economic transformation in regions formerly dependent on heavy industries. Discussions focused on how to create sustainable, well-paying jobs while augmenting such an area’s international economic competitiveness, and expanding cultural and recreational opportunities.

The Media Dialogue sessions showed that the economic transformation and restructuring of the Ruhr District could be characterized by the following changes:

  1. Diversifying the structure of industry, both by encouraging small, medium, and large enterprises, as well as fostering growth in the different industrial sectors and the service sector.
  2. Aggressive development of business start-ups – Gelsenkirchen, for example, has a prominent solar energy cluster with firms located in the Science Park Gelsenkirchen, while Dortmund has a micro- and nanotechnology cluster  involving over 30 companies.
  3. Introducing and encouraging creative industries and helping existing industry become more innovative.
  4. Fostering new technologies being established both in new industries and existing ones, especially through advanced research and development.
  5. Investments in infrastructure that support the other advancements (including investments in: education, research, teaching organizations, financial possibilities, support services).

The RUHR.2010 activities and their coverage in the Media were an additional focus of the Media Dialogue. The Transatlantic Media Dialogue was complemented by field trips to showcase the discussed issues. Visits included: The Science Park Gelsenkirchen a symbol of, and a catalyst for the structural change of The Ruhr Area; The RWE Mobility Center, including a test-drive of electric vehicles; Zeche Zollverein, a large former industrial coal mine and now inscribed into the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites; The Gasometer Oberhausen, an industrial monument and landmark along the European culture heritage trail; and the Dortmunder U-Tower, a former brewery building in the city of Dortmund that is now a center for culture and creativity.

As part of the Transatlantic Climate Bridge, the Media Dialogue was sponsored by the German Federal Foreign Office. The Transatlantic Climate Bridge is an initiative to foster transatlantic cooperation and partnerships between Germany, the US and Canada on climate and energy policies at the local, the state and the federal level.


During the past decades considerable efforts have been undertaken to modernize and diversify the economic base of the Ruhr region


Ruhr Area, Germany
Project ID
Climate, Media Dialogue, expert networks, Transformation, Industry, Energy Policy, Renewable Energy, Visitors Programme, Transatlantic Relations, Economy
USA, Europe, Germany, Transatlantic, international