At the heart of changemaking are leaders at every level willing to take on responsibility, and the unfolding urban crisis demands more effective leaders with ever greater urgency. How can we support the emergence of more of them?
This article covers: What is Responsible Leadership, what are RISE Cities, the RISE Cities sessions at the 5th Creative Bureaucracy Festival, and the new RISE Cities Fellowship Program
By 2050, it’s predicted that almost 70% of us will be living in cities, and up to 86% in OECD countries . Behind this dramatic trend lies a utopian promise: urban environments offer huge potential to deliver on improved quality of life by providing greater economic opportunity, connectivity, and shared physical and social infrastructures.
Reality often paints a different picture. Urbanisation’s dark underbelly is clear to see. More than 70% of global CO2 emissions occur in cities , and climate degradation accompanies deepening urban-rural divides and rampant inequality.
Yet there is hope. As UN general secretary Antonio Guterres crucially notes: “Cities are where the climate battle will largely be won or lost”. The same applies to other challenges, from the cost-of-living crisis to growing political polarisation.
Cities have the potential to be the laboratories for solving the systemic problems they create. This is due to their size, their pool of expertise, talent and resources. Cities are often small and nimble enough to avoid the gridlock of national politics, and yet they’re big enough to make a meaningful difference. Cities are where we can be engaged and make a personal difference. They are our homes – part of our personal identities.
Many realise that our economic order and way of life is materially expansive, socially divisive, and environmentally hostile and that a business-as-usual approach will not get us to where we need to be. So what’s the secret to unlocking the potential that cities hold to act as crucibles of change?
Shifting the Leadership Paradigm: Responsible Leaders in RISE Cities
At the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, we believe it’s a matter of shifting the leadership paradigm. At the heart of most of the crises we face is an endemic disconnection from self, others and nature – a human crisis of relationship and of taking responsibility.
Building our capacity to reimagine the broken infrastructures of our current flawed systems and rebuild them based on new values requires effective responsible leadership from different types of societal actors. These can work in alliances towards shared visions for better futures based on strong relationships of trust.
We believe empowering more Responsible Leaders across the globe can help to unlock the transformative power of cities and accelerate their just green transition into what we call “RISE” Cities – resilient (R), intelligent (I), sustainable (S), and equitable (E).
Our RISE Cities program seeks to nurture responsible leadership at a city level by identifying shared urban challenges and encouraging mutual cross-sector learning to create brave new solutions to specific problems in localities.
One important set of Responsible Leaders are creative bureaucrats, who play a vital role in shaping policy and investment outcomes, and setting rules, regulations and incentives to steer behaviours. Together with quality politicians, a participatory population, and well-functioning legal institutions, effective civil servants are the foundation of well-functioning public lives.
For this reason we have been supporting the Creative Bureaucracy Festival for the past three years. We believe in this platform as a powerful showcase of Responsible Leadership in action and a shared learning environment for those wishing to apply such lessons.
Below you can find an overview of our exciting RISE Cities sessions at this year’s Creative Bureaucracy Festival (2nd June, Berlin), as well as information about our new RISE Cities Fellowship program (application deadline: 30th June).
RISE Cities at the 5th Creative Bureaucracy Festival
At this year’s Creative Bureaucracy Festival, which took place live in Berlin on 2nd June at Radialsystem, RISE Cities hosted a Bowl discussion and two Mainstage talks on the topic of effective responsible leadership in the public urban realm, led by creative bureaucrats and their allies.
Thank you to everyone who joined us! If you’d like to stay in touch, email us at: RISECities@bmw-foundation.org
Cities Under Pressure: Innovating in Crises | BOWL, Studio B, 13:00–13:50
International experts who have practically dealt with intractable crises in Ukraine, South Africa and Minneapolis, USA join us to share their experiences of dealing with emergency measures while simultaneously working to unpick the big structural issues societies are facing – from high unemployment to violence and geopolitical instability. More…
The Ukrainian Phoenix: Guiding a Post-War Rebirth | MAINSTAGE, 15:00-15:50 (one of four talks)
How do you rebuild a country after war? And how can this be done amid deep uncertainty regarding the future? While the Russian war against Ukraine is still raging, Alexander Shevchenko is already thinking about what comes after and what a Ukrainian recovery and revival should look like through ReStart Ukraine. More…
Unlocking the Potential of the Civic City | MAINSTAGE, 15:00-15:50 (one of four talks)
How can a mindset of Responsible Leadership unlock the power of grassroots innovators to use cities as labs and imaginatively deal with compound urban challenges? Prathima Manohar, joins us from India to shares her experience of supporting bold and effective policy ideas to enhance liveability. More…
RISE Cities Fellowship Program
At the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt we recently launched a new RISE Cities Fellowship program to accelerate projects and initiatives that inspire new forms of cross-sector collaboration and responsible leadership in cities.
The Fellowship was created to help to strengthen initiatives that unite public-sector intrapreneurs with private-sector stakeholders and demonstrate new ways of public-private or public-civic leadership.
It is a hybrid program for a cohort of 24 leaders from 12 mid-sized European cities. The 12 tandems will be supported through immersive sessions, masterclasses, online coaching, and mentoring by outstanding urban experts and members of the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network.
Interested parties just need to fill out the Tandem Application Form below by the 30th June 2022.
For more information, get in touch via RISECities@bmw-foundation.org
Kerstin admires people and organisations that are fully committed to making our world a more just, peaceful, and sustainable place. Her strongest passion is building and developing organisations and teams and making them work, surpassed only by her fascination for the magic of human interaction and communication.
She currently leads the BMW Herbert Quandt Foundation’s RISE Cities program. Having worked in various leadership functions across industry, NGOs, the public sector and consulting, Kerstin has sharpened her ability to identify opportunities ‘on the horizon’ and to engage thought leaders or key stakeholders so as to make opportunities real. She strongly believes in the importance of nurturing empathy, creativity, and an ability for self-reflection in oneself and others.