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City of Stuttgart, Germany, seeks partner city





All...

I just returned from a trip to Stuttgart in support of an EPA program called
EMPACT (www.epa.gov/empact).  The purpose of the trip was to learn how Germany
monitors their environment, communicates to the public, reduces/recycles/treats
their waste, regulates dioxins and other air pollutants, as well as to look for
possibilities for collaboration.  I have a summary report if anyone is
interested (send me an e-mail) but in this forum I mostly wanted to let you all
know about an opportunity.

I met with Mr. Joachim von Zimmerman who the Director of the Office for
Environment Protection for the City of Stuttgart.  He is very interested in
partnering with a city in the United States that is at a similar level of
environmental progress as Stuttgart in order to share experiences and perhaps
joint projects.

I have put detailed notes about Stuttgart below, but in short:  Since 1990,
Stuttgart has made significant progress towards its environmental goals in both
air and water quality, as well as in reducing emissions from the many heavy
industries (notably, automotive) that exist in and near the city.  They have an
excellent air monitoring program, outstanding greenspace and forests within city
limits, and careful management of their mineral springs and groundwater.  They
feel their biggest issues are air quality and noise.  Stuttgart is also
struggling with how to continue to improve its environment in the face of waning
public interest, i.e., how do you continue to improve after you have met many,
but not all, of your goals.  Mr. von Zimmerman is looking for a partnership of
equals, a city that has a strong environmental department, is working on similar
issues, and who are willing to work with Stuttgart so both can improve.

If you know of a city that would interested, send me a short description and I
will put you in contact with Mr. von Zimmerman.   Please feel free to forward
this message also.  If you have any questions, let me know.  Thank you!

Jill Engel-Cox
AAAS Science and Engineering Fellow
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
202.564.6774
engel-cox.jill@epa.gov

***

Amt für Umweltschutz, Landeshauptstadt Stuttgart
Amt für Umweltschutz is the office for the environment for the city of Stuttgart
(population 560,000).  Their main work is regulatory as well as providing
information and consultation for city services (such as utilities, wastewater
management, waste recycling, schools, hospitals, public buildings).  This office
manages local water quality, refuse disposal, air quality, energy conservation,
and other environmental services at the city level, based on EU, German, and
state laws.  They develop urban policies, encourage energy efficiency, maintain
environmental databases, regulate food safety, manage public relations, and
other environmental areas.

They also prepare a state of the environment report every few years that
summarizes the environmental conditions in Stuttgart.  The 1998 report was
produced both in a paper report as well as a CD ROM available to the public.
The CD ROM includes complete datasets and about 3000 copies were distributed and
requested.  They also produced a CD ROM for Stuttgart 21 titled "Urban Climate
21" to assist planners in managing air quality changes for a proposed major
renovation in transportation and land use in a center portion of the City.
Stuttgart 21, like the installation of most major facilities, has met with
significant public resistance, although there is a fair amount of tolerance for
existing facilities.

The two major environmental areas in Stuttgart that everyone agrees are
extremely important are: complete conservation of existing forests and
protection of mineral water and hot springs.  These two areas crosscut all
political and public opinion, thus they are well-managed.  The areas of the
biggest concern therefore are air quality and noise, with less consensus on how
to address these issues and more complaints from the public.  Lead contamination
is not so much of a problem, since they do not have as many painted wood
buildings as the U.S.; however, they do manage and maintain databases on
residual contamination from the heavy bombings that Stuttgart received in WWII.

For air quality, there are four monitoring stations in Stuttgart, managed by
UMEG.  Stuttgart also has several of the air quality displays/billboard but have
not had as much success with these as the City of Karlsruhe.  The signs are only
air quality numbers, with no bars or relative values.  As a test, impossible
values were put on the signs for one day and there was no public reaction,
indicating a lack of understanding of air quality values.  The city no longer
manages the signs, but a few still exist that are sponsored by a private
company.

In general, Herr von Zimmerman feels that Germany has experienced big
environmental improvements since 1990 when an increase in public environmental
consciousness led to companies beginning to change, including establishing
senior management responsible for the environment, installation of treatment
systems, and launching major clean production and recycling programs.  This was
also the time that catalytic converters were required on new passenger
automobiles and leaded gas was being phased out.  Many of the environmental
goals were met over the subsequent years.  Now, 10 years later, Stuttgart is now
trying to figure out how to continue to improve its environment in the face of
waning public interest.  The formation of the EU may even be a barrier, as its
primary thrust is to increase trade, and if environmental laws in Germany (or
any country) inhibit trade, the EU may force their repeal.  For example, Denmark
tried to limit plastic bottles and encourage glass and aluminum as they are
easier to recycle, but was forced to repeal the regulations since it was viewed
as a limit to the import of beverages.

Stuttgart would be interested in working with a U.S. city on these issues.  They
currently have social and cultural connections with the City of St. Louis
through Sister Cities International, however, St Louis does not have a
counterpart to Stuttgart?s environmental office or environmental manager.  They
are interested in partnerships between equals, cities that are similar in status
to Stuttgart, that have had successes but are seeking ways to maintain and
continue to improve on a high level of environmental progress in the face of
reduced public interest.