Frankfurt: The Home to People of 180 Nationalities

Presentation written by:

Kena Wagari, kenawaga@gmail.com

Clara Soubrié, soubrieclara@gmail.com

Presentation supervised by: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Elena M. BARBU, elena.barbu@univ-grenoble-alpes.fr

 

General informations

Frankfurt am Main is a city of the german state of Hesse, located near of the Belgium and the French frontier. This city is today an example for all the others European cities in matter of living, ecology, sustainability, economy and culture. But, it hasn’t always been like that. In the 1990’s Frankfurt had a really bad reputation and it was a bad example in matter of criminality. There were many brothels and drugs addicts. Today the insecurity rate has decreased and thanks to the Frankfurt method, the drugs addicts have been taken in charge. The city is now more responsible. In the 1990’s the financial rise has permit Frankfurt to develop.

Frankfurt is often nicknamed as Mainhattan, in reference to the river that crosses the city, and obviously to Manhattan because of its skyscraper in the financial district. It’s only the fifth city of the country in terms of density of population (2951 inhabitants per km2), but Frankfurt is actually a powerful city. It’s the fourth financial center of Europe, it’s the wealthier city in Germany and first economical center. It’s a truly european crossroad with its airport, which is the third of Europe after Paris and London, and its big station. The ECB (European Central Bank) and the German Federal Bank headquarters are located in Frankfurt.

About the population, a quarter is not German. There are a lot of expatriates. Frankfurt is culturally and ethnically diverse, and half of the population has a migration background, and the majority is very young. In terms of education, Frankfurt host many famous and renewal schools like university in science, art, graduate schools… Frankfurt is also known about its culture with many concert hall (Frankfurt is a pioneer in terms of electronic music), theaters, and museums; and it’s good environment with large green areas and parks. The city is multicultural because it’s home to people of 180 nationalities. Finally, Frankfurt has a famous football and basketball teams.

Picture 1 : Römerplatz panorama

Source : https://www.flickr.com/photos/9410369@N04/8641755132

As many German cities, Frankfurt was for a big part destroyed during the World War II. Some of its mains buildings were rebuild identically as before the bombing like the Romerplatz where the architecture is very typical. During the Cold War, Frankfurt was part of the FRG (the Federal Republic of Germany). Since the end of the Cold War, a specific political system is implemented in Germany. Frankfurt is what we call an independent district-free city which means that it does not form part of another general-purpose local government entity. The actual Lord-Mayor of Frankfurt-am-Main is Peter Feldmann who is a member of the SPD (the Social Democratic Party).

So, we can say that Frankfurt is considered as a leading global city thanks to its economic power, infrastructure and cultural wealth.

Environmental and social actions

Sociocultural

Since the governors of the city tried to invest in social responsibilities Frankfurt is a great place to live. They worked a lot to get citizens a good social environment and that people living in Frankfurt feel good. To achieve these goal three main social aspects have been improved: diversity, culture and health.

 

Firstly, Berlin and Frankfurt are the two most multicultural cities in Germany according to the website “Make it in Germany”. In Frankfurt around 47% of its population comes from immigration, and the Turkish people are the most represented, they are around 13% of the population. With these diversities of communities comes a diversity of religions. In the city is practiced all types of religions and they all live in harmony. In an article of “Le petit Journal Francfort” we learn that more than 600 religious celebrations take place all along the year. All the communities mix and live together thanks to a law the government put on social housings. According to the law when social housings are build 30% is dedicated to foreigners and 70% are for German’s and even if there are some Turkish district there are no ghettos.

The city of Frankfurt has improved in terms of culture. They invested a lot in museums. For example the old Städel museum has been renovated, they have redesigned the exterior of the building and have created a new space of 3000m2 that shelters modern art piece. It is now one of the most important museum of Germany. They also have one of the best operas of the world, it is called the New Opera. On its Wikipedia page we learn that between 1997 and 2003 it received the award of best opera of the year. Frankfurt inhabitant are also player in social responsibilities because when the government decided to blow up the old opera the citizens sat up a fundraising effort to renovate the building. The city promotes its culture but also the culture of other countries. Indeed, the city organize each year a book congress, and France was the guest of honor in 2017 because they want to bring to the fore the French literature in Frankfurt. You can learn more about this collaboration on the web article of “telerama.fr” mentioned below.

Another way of improving the well-being of Frankfurt citizen was to reinforce healthcare. Health is a major element of the social responsibility of a city and Frankfurt had a lot to improve in this domain. As it is said in then introduction there was many drug addict on the streets, nobody took care of them so many diseases were transmitted. In reaction to these they are one of the first country in Germany to have open drug injection rooms. As mentioned before, they called it the Frankfurt method. Those room receive drug addicts and allow them to shoot them sleeves in a clean environment and with clean syringes. The drug injection room of Niddastrasse received journalists from “Le petit journal Francfort” and they wrote a great article about it, the like is below. That allowed drug addicts to leave the street and decreased the risk of transmitting diseases. Suicide is also an issue in Germany where 10 000 people per year commit suicide so in Frankfort a network of different medical experts was adopted to prevent suicide and support people affected by mental illness.

 

The city has done great efforts to provide a better living environment to its inhabitant and to make Frankfort great again.

 

Economic

Frankfurt has become a strong economic power as it is said at the begin. In addition to the head office of the ECB they possess more than 400 banks head office. They also have the biggest stock exchange of Germany and the second of the European Union. Frankfurt is the third business city in Europe and in 2001 a study of the university of Liverpool showed that it was in the richest city in themes of GDP per capita. Its economy relies in a big part on the tertiary sector because there are many service companies especially in the bank and trading sector. Important trade faire are organized for example the International Motor Show, a well know auto show that attracts many firms et creates business. There economy also relies on chemistry and publicity. This type of economy is at the opposite of social responsible believes, nevertheless SR are more and more important for the economic well-being of a country.

In 2003 an article on the website “Novethic” shows that the Frankfurt stock exchange was losing value, so to regain the trust of the shareholders they reorganized their ranking system to give more value to companies that did Corporate Social Responsibilities. Nowadays the most important financial marketplaces are competing to be the one with the best impact on environment. On the 17 of march 2017 the NGO Finance Watch will release a ranking of the “greenest” stock exchange. This study will be based on the perception every financials actors have, on their own impact on environment. Nevertheless, a first benchmark has been carried out by the financial audit company PwC. This study was to show how much the financials actors where implied in financing the energy transition. According to the PwC, every stock exchange of the G7 have distinct advantages. For example, they compared the number of green bonds issued on the different financial market places. Those green bonds, are bonds that will bankroll an environmental project and it seems that Frankfurt has the biggest amount of green bounds listed on the stock exchange with 198 issued since 2010, in front of Paris. But if we look at the amount of issuance Paris is at the first place and Frankfurt is only 3th.

Picture 2 : Volume (in $bn) and number of green bounds issues listed on G7 stock exchange

Source : https://www.latribune.fr/entreprises-finance/banques-finance/qui-sera-la-place-financiere-la-plus-verte-761564.html

Picture 3 : Green bond issuance per issuer’s country

Source : https://www.latribune.fr/entreprises-finance/banques-finance/qui-sera-la-place-financiere-la-plus-verte-761564.html

Stockholders aren’t the only one hoping for more social responsibility actions in the city, the inhabitant are more and more willing to quite this economic system. The Blockupy movement is a group that fight against austerity, they wish for a democracy without capitalism. One of their biggest action was on march 2015 at the opening of the new headquarters of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. There were more than 10 000 demonstrator blocking the access to the 2 new buildings. In those 10 000 people there were actors of the German Trade Union Confederation and also members of the germane teacher’s union trade. There were violent confrontation with policeman’s and at only 10 am there was around 350 people arrested. Many articles were written on this topic, I took my infos on an article of the website “courrierinternational.com”.

Even if the major part of the companies aren’t corporate social responsible enterprises, some are starting to get more ethical. Radison blu is a big hotel chain around the world and they have a hotel in Frankfurt. According to their website, this particular hotel tries to be responsible by acting on three project: environment, people and community. They want to reduce their CO2 emission, notably by using high tech foil installed to the hotel’s windows. They take care of their employees by providing an excellent healthcare, fire safety, personal safety and security management. They also think about the community by supporting the German Red Cross and the World Childhood Foundation. But there are not only big groups that are involved in CSR, small companies like start-up are encouraged by the social impact lab. This co-working space has a program to help social enterprises that are starting. They provide training in some topics, they can give you access to a good network and help you find funds and shareholders. They have to programs that help to start a social enterprise, the AnderGrunder that helps young people start their business and ChancenNutzer that encourages people with migration background.

Even Frankfurt is a big financial city many action in terms of social responsibilities are being set up and the city is real tiring do develop a new image.

Ecologic

Frankfurt is considered as a green city, due to its large parks, green areas, river and botanical gardens. More than 50% of the areas of the city are protected green areas. Frankfurt host 150 passive buildings which are housing, schools and kindergartens. Passive building means that the energy consumption per square metre is very low. Plus, in 2016, the city have built a passive house clinic, which is a premiere in the world. Hospitals demand a lot of energy compared to others building, and it’s due to their 24 hours operation. So, build a passive hospital is a good initiative because it’s more sustainable and less expensive.

Each year, Arcadis (which is a consultant in matter of environment, water, infrastructures..), publish a ranking of the best sustainable cities. Sustainability can be defined like accomplishment of the present needs without compromise the futures generation’s needs. In 2015, Frankfurt was the first one in this ranking, compared to Paris which was only the 16th. This ranking depends on three elements: people, planet and profit. More precisely the study is focused on the quality of the water, the means of transportation, equality between private and professional life, public infrastructures, healthful and educational system, environmental politics, and economical resources. About Frankfurt, they won the top of the rank thanks the planet and profit criterions.

About biodiversity, which is quite an important issue in matter of social responsibility, Frankfurt is involved, mostly with the association BioFrankfurt (WWF Germany is part of it). Their duty is to raise awareness among biodiversity for the citizens and the medias. They also want to reduce the use of car which destroys the environment for that biodiversity. To fight against that, the city has bought some hybrid buses to reduce pollution.

Frankfurt wants to highlight the use of bikes, and promote it for tourism. There are many bicycle paths, mostly in the “green belt” of Frankfurt which count more than 70 kilometers, go to the city center, and along the river (Main, Nidda and Rhin). Plus the city have a project : build a 30 kilometers bike motorway between Frankfurt and Darmstadt. This is a really sustainable project, because along this future bicycle path, there are many housing and it could decrease the use of car, replaced by the use of bike.

Frankfurt is a founding member of the Climate Alliance for European Cities founded in 1990, and hosts its headquarter. The aim of this alliance is mainly to reduce the greenhouse gas emission and fight against climate change. Every member have, among other things, to reduce by 10% their emission every five years. It shows the involvement of the city to be more sustainable.

They work to reduce the greenhouse gas emission by 95% from now until 2050, thanks to its local energy agency Energie Referat. It actually was the first environmental protection agency in the world. The master plan forecast a 100% consumption of renewable energies and it’s focusing on household’s consumption, industry, building and transport. This project is called “Master Plan 100% Climate Protection”and was adopted in 2015.

Picture 4 : MasterPlan

Source : http://www.territoires-climat.ademe.fr/sites/default/files/publication_vers_des_villes_100_enr-web.pdf

Within the city, we can found different kind of renewable energy like solar thermal, photovoltaic, wind power. And they are working with neighbouring cities to get more of them. The aim is to get these renewable energies locally to be more ecological and to boost the local economy.

Picture 5 : Solar panel in Frankfurt

Source : http://www.go100re.net/properties/frankfurt-am-main/

To succeed the city needs first of all, to reduce the energy consumption. That’s why they asked to the Frankfurters to adopt some simple gestures, and they asked to schools to work on this subject and to build projects to make the kids more aware about this issue. Furthermore, energy workshops has been running in Frankfurt where the pupils can play games in order to learn more about the subject. Plus, they have implemented incentives to reward the residents. For example, a 50€ bonus is offered to any Frankfurter who change his old refrigerator to a new one, which use less energy. Many association like Energiepunkt and Climate Gourmet which provides advices to be more responsible with food and cooking, like what fruits and vegetables can I eat and in what period.

Between 1990 and 2012 the city succeed to reduce emissions by 15%, while the economy grew by 50%. The positive impact on the economy has convinced many politicians. It’s an amazing success which encourages their actual project.

The city has also permit to businesses to save money with the Ecoprofit project, which is part of the Master plan 100% Climate Protection. It allows companies to save money while they are preserving the environment by reducing their CO2 emission, and their energy consumption. Ecoprofit advise companies in matter of energy and water consumption, rubbish management, and sustainable purchase. The assessment is really positive: CO2 emissions have decreased, electricity saved, costs saved… This is what we can call a corporate environmental management.

So Frankfurt is trying to get to everybody in the city to reach their 100% renewable energy purpose. They work as a team. They give incentive to households, they make pupils work on the issue, they involve businesses and even turism (with the important kilometers of bicycle path). This is a challenge, but Frankfurt intends to take it.

Negative aspects

Frankfurt is a very responsible city and its involvement in the Master Plan 100% Climate Protection shows that it’s a committed city. However, in some points, Frankfurt has a few weaknesses.

First, we know that despite all the effort the city make, air pollution is high. It’s mainly due to fine particles which come from energy transformation in industry, wood burning, the use of fertilizers, and transport with diesel. Plus there is still a high level of car traffic that the city could limited by establish an urban charging like in Stockholm and in London. By doing that, they could decrease the public transportation prices, so the level of fine particles could decrease as well.

Figure 6 : Air Pollution in Frankfurt

Source : https://air.plumelabs.com/fr/month/frankfurt

Then, in 2015, Frankfurt was the first in the Arcadis rank. But it wasn’t the first in each category. In the people criterion, the city loose some points because of the high number of hours spend at work. The normal time is about 40 hours per week, but the real time go beyond this number, especially in Frankfurt where there are many executive people. Indeed, there a lot of banks which are often characterized by high responsibilities jobs. The fact that there is a lot of banks can damage the image of Frankfurt for some people. Actually, in some banks, the main purpose is to make money and profit despite any other considerations like ethical and sustainable things. Plus in Germany, there is no minimum wage.

Despite the effort to make the city safer Frankfort is still the city with the highest criminality rate with 16 crimes per 10 000 inhabitants. This is due to their airplane where many breach are done, but it is also due to the fact that Germany is a very safe country in general. Moreover even if the city is very multicultural and that plenty of communities live together, in Germany you can’t have the dual citizenship. Before your 23 birthday you have to choose if either you keep your Germane passport or the other. That could be a hard choice to make and it could incite people to leave the country.

Conclusion

To conclude, we saw that Frankfurt is a city that created itself a new image. In the past it wasn’t at all this dream city that we know. Frankfurt is now a more secure place but also it’s a great city to live in. Many efforts have been made to promote culture and to make it a dynamic city, for example there was a neighborhood where there was a lot of brothel but now it is overloaded in bar and café and it’s a place where inhabitants love to go. The change in the city is also market by a huge economic jump. Frankfort is known as an economic power and its economic model has drastically changed whereas it relies globally on banks and trades. The most notable change of Frankfurt is there implication in the environment. They are the first city with the objective of been a green city with no CO2 emission. Their action is well thought because they try to imply as well the government and corporation as citizens.

Nevertheless, we have noticed some weakness of the city : they still have to work on their transportation needs, in protection of employees and in criminality.

Frankfurt has a beautiful future in view of the objectives they aim but we are in right to ask ourselves if they are going to reach their objectives. Moreover, it would be interesting to see if their environmental model could be applied in another country who is willing to become more sustainable.

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