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The blog post at hand belongs to the series highlighting the various keynote presentations of our public event labelled ‘Get on top of your complex challenges’ which was hosted by the public:START consortium on the 14th of October as part of the 35th edition of the annual ERASMUSDAYS.

A broad spectrum of speakers representing public organization and research institutions provided an enlightening insight into how they are currently dealing with various complex challenges. Now, we want to share their success factors with you.


German rural municipalities are dealing with more difficult problems. André Wölk argues that small-scale administrative organizations in particular should employ climate protection managers.

Mr. Wölk is a highly specialized social and economic geographer with a background in social psychology, sociology, and agricultural science. Thus, he is acquainted with many of the factors underpinning complexity both in theory and in practice.

In his presentation ‘Current Illusion of Handling Complex Issues’, he described the challenges of translating his theoretical knowledge into practical solutions in his position as climate protection manager of the city of Dinklage, in rural northwestern Germany. Many of the challenges, which he encounters on a regular basis, relate to a lack of awareness of an issue and its complexity, cumbersome communication processes as well as overlapping private and public interests of key decision-makers.

To overcome these obstacles, he proposes transparent and goal-oriented communication formats such as regular working groups with politicians on specific topics. This not only gradually raises problem-awareness, but also ensures self-reflection and justification for action.

Additionally, Mr. Wölk encourages municipal authorities to adopt a role-model approach toward their citizens by using actual, visible communication on a geographical scale through infrastructure projects. He summarizes this by way of example as follows: ‘Citizens are much less inclined to take climate protection serious if you, as a municipality, don’t make the first step by installing solar panels on the roofs of public buildings.’

As the public:START consortium continues its work to help the public sector develop a new set of entrepreneurial skills to better understand complex challenges, build new relationships, leverage resources, work across sector lines and act more efficiently, we are pleased to see that the transformation is already underway in public bodies all across Europe.

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