"What matters to people"

Second International German Forum "What matters to people"

This morning Chancellor Angela Merkel and experts from around the globe discussed innovations and how they can improve wellbeing, prosperity and progress. When he opened the Second International German Forum on Monday, Peter Altmaier, Head of the Federal Chancellery, stressed that societies need the capacity for innovation.

International German Forum in the conference room at the Federal Chancellery

The First International German Forum was held in 2013 and looked at progress and quality of life

Photo: Bundesregierung/Eberstein

"What matters to people – innovation and society" – is the motto of the dialogue that began on Monday 19 January at the Federal Chancellery.

Capacity to innovate essential, says Peter Altmaier

At the opening of the Forum, Peter Altmaier, Head of the Federal Chancellery said that we must overcome national borders in order to tackle continental or even global challenges. He gave the examples of climate change, environmental protection, pollution of the marine environment, demographic change and the onward march of digitalisation. The world, he said, is facing a wave of innovation. Societies thus need to have the capacity for innovation.

With this second Forum, the Chancellor is offering some 120 German and international experts, who together represent the academic community, the private sector, politics and civil society in 30 countries, a platform for dialogue on relevant issues that will shape our future.

Opportunities offered by digitalisation

In her most recent video podcast Angela Merkel talks about what she expects of the International German Forum. She says that she is looking forward to discussing these matters with interesting personalities. She is interested in what Germany can learn from others. The Chancellor would like to see a network for global learning emerge.

It is not only a question of technical innovations though. The digital world should enable people to become actively involved, and to voice their ideas about the society they would like to see. Technical innovations should help reach people and spread ideas.

She sees a huge potential for innovation in the interaction of society, of the various sections of society, said the Chancellor. An important precondition for this, however, is digital education. "It doesn’t matter how good a platform is. If people cannot access it I’m not going to be able to address them."

Building a network for global learning

Worldwide, societies are facing increasingly complex and generally global challenges – including climate change, dwindling natural resources, demographic change, urbanisation and digitalisation. The International German Forum aims to establish a network for global learning and develop common solutions to the tasks ahead.

The idea of the International German Forum emerged from the Chancellor’s Dialogue on Germany’s Future. The aim is to discuss "what matters to people" and to help maintain and improve the quality of life for this generation and the generations to come around the world. The First International German Forum on 5 June 2013 looked at "What matters to people – wellbeing and progress". Throughout 2011 and 2012 Angela Merkel conducted a discussion with citizens and with experts about how we want to live in future.

The topics of the dialogue

The Second International German Forum is taking place on 19 and 20 January at the Federal Chancellery. It will focus on the following questions:

  • How can technological and social innovations help resolve the tasks ahead and enhance the quality of life?
  • How can we organise the interplay of politics, business, the academic community and civil society to facilitate holistic innovations and devise effective solutions?
  • What opportunities does digital change offer to make societies more able to innovate?
  • Which (political) options for action can we identify to enhance the capacity for innovation and thus enhance the quality of life?

On Tuesday 20 January the Chancellor will be taking part in the dialogue from 10.00 to 12.00 and will discuss innovations for wellbeing, prosperity and progress with participants.

The dialogue with the Chancellor will be streamed live and can be accessed via the Forum website at www.dialog-ueber-deutschland.de.

Innovation – a government priority

The Chancellor and the German government are addressing the issues of innovation and capacity for innovation in a variety of ways:

  • During the Chancellor’s Dialogue on Germany’s Future one working group was specifically dedicated to the culture of innovation.
  • The government’s strategy "Living well in Germany" is an innovative approach to citizen dialogue. In 2015 the German government will be asking people throughout Germany what matters to them in life. On this basis an indicator and reporting system is to be developed along with an action programme to improve wellbeing in Germany.
  • In September 2014 the German government adopted the new "High-Tech Strategy – Innovations for Germany" which sees innovative solutions as a driver of wellbeing and prosperity. At the heart of this strategy is a broad understanding of the concept of innovation, which embraces not only technological but also social innovations, and involves civil society as a vitally important actor.
  • The German government has been engaged in a dialogue on innovation with representatives of the business and academic communities for many years. This dialogue looks at an enabling environment for research, science and technical developments.
  • The Federal Ministry of Education and Research holds an annual conference ITAFORUM, at which experts from the academic and research community, the world of politics, civil society and the business community discuss topical issues relating to innovation and acceptance of technology.
  • The German Centres for Research and Innovation in Moscow, New Delhi, New York, São Paulo and Tokyo offer a platform for the German research and innovation landscape and present the achievements of German science and research and the businesses that apply this research.