Bertelsmann Stiftung to Focus on Making Policymaking More Sustainable
Thielen: Politicians cannot ignore intergenerational justice when developing strategies
The Bertelsmann Stiftung intends to focus on ways of making policymaking more sustainable and increasing the international scope of its own project work, said Prof. Gunter Thielen, the Bertelsmann Stiftung chairman and CEO, in presenting the foundation’s 2011 Annual Report. As part of these activities, the foundation will award its 2013 Reinhard Mohn Prize on the topic of sustainable policymaking. It is therefore carrying out a worldwide search for countries that have been successful in developing strategies to ensure economic, environmental and social sustainability and making them a standard part of their overall policymaking goals, as well as widely accepted by society at large. The winner of the prize will be announced in mid-2013.
“One key problem is that political issues get attention, then fade quickly,” Thielen said. “At best, policies these days tend to be structured for the current legislative period. At worst, they only endure for one or two rounds of the media cycle.” According to Thielen, there is widespread agreement that current business practices and conventional ideas of prosperity and growth cannot endure. “Europe’s debt crisis has made economic limits very clear,” he said. “Policymakers must therefore begin focusing on the issues of sustainability and intergenerational justice as they develop their strategies.”
In addition, the Bertelsmann Stiftung intends to increase its international focus and presence. With its offices in Brussels, Barcelona and Washington, it is primarily active in Europe and the United States. “As part of our internationalization strategy, we will be setting our sights on China, India and Brazil,” Thielen announced. The foundation will not be opening its own offices there, but working with strategic partners instead, he said. Issues of key concern will be education and sustainable social development.
According to the Bertelsmann Stiftung CEO, one example of the foundation’s international impact is its proposal for an international nonprofit credit rating agency. Given the questionable assessments of national credit-worthiness made by the three US-based commercial rating agencies, an independent institution is needed for evaluating sovereign risk, he said. “The criteria used cannot only cover the financial and politico-economic realities, but must also include a country’s political management and its ability to carry out reforms,” Thielen explained. “The Bertelsmann Stiftung’s proposal has been very well received by economic and financial experts, and policymakers have signaled support for discussing the idea at the coming G20 summit.”
The Bertelsmann Stiftung is also responding to Germany’s key sociopolitical challenges. Together with Hannelore Kraft, the state premier of North Rhine–Westphalia, it launched the project Leave No Child Behind! – Community Prevention in NRW at the beginning of the year. In addition, the foundation is collaborating with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her staff to organize a Citizens’ Dialogue on Germany’s future. Together with the German Adult Education Association it has held dialogue forums in over 50 German cities in recent weeks. On June 6, Chancellor Merkel will meet in Berlin with 150 participants from the local forums to discuss their findings.
In addition, one of the cultural highlights of the coming year will be the gala concert on December 1 marking the 25th anniversary of the launch of the NEUE STIMMEN International Singing Competition. German-Brazilian conductor Marcus Bosch will lead the Bochum Symphony at the event as it accompanies former NEUE STIMMEN prizewinners. Over the past 25 years more than 10,000 up-and-coming opera singers from over 70 countries have participated in the competition.
About the Bertelsmann Stiftung:
The Bertelsmann Stiftung is dedicated to serving the common good. It executes projects in its four core areas of education, business and social affairs, health, and international relations, and strives to promote peaceful coexistence among the world’s diverse cultures. Through the example of its civic engagement, it wants to encourage others to support their own communities as well. Founded in 1977 as a registered charity, the Bertelsmann Stiftung is majority shareholder of Bertelsmann AG. Structured as a private operating foundation, it is politically nonpartisan and works independently of Bertelsmann AG. The Bertelsmann Stiftung currently employs 314 people and has a budget of approximately €62 million. Since its inception it has made €990 million available for its charitable activities.
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