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Solutions for concrete problems

The National Security Strategy is being developed in concert. Sophie Deuerlein talks about her active citizen participation.

Sophie Deuerlein
Sophie Deuerlein © privat

Germany is creating its own National Security Strategy for the first time. It is aiming to reflect a broad consensus in society and will be developed with the participation of citizens and experts. In July Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock visited some of the seven Townhall Meetings throughout Germany.

Sophie Deuerlein reports on the meeting in Ravensburg and the following Open Situation Room in Berlin:
“It all began with a letter from the Federal Foreign Office. I was surprised, because the Federal Foreign Office had never written to me before. 3,000 people in the Ravensburg area were asked if they would like to take part in a Townhall Meeting. After that, 50 people were chosen to represent a cross-section of Ravensburg’s population. Our topics were the international economy and supply chains – and the challenge of how the latter can be protected against such things as pandemics, crises, climate disasters or military conflicts. That was particularly interesting for me, because I’m writing my master’s thesis about planetary boundaries. And this includes a lot about the ecological and social risks involved in supply chains. We discussed in groups of about ten people, with moderators in the exchanges. That was important, because whenever we had technical questions, we received sensible, well-founded responses from experts. But the conversation also focused strongly on personal anxieties. The main aim was to gather topics that could be considered in the National Security Strategy. It became clear that the generations had very different topics of interest, for instance in the case of Covid, or especially the topic of climate change.

Open Situation Room at the Federal Foreign Office
Open Situation Room at the Federal Foreign Office © picture alliance / photothek

I really enjoyed being able to attend the Open Situation Room in Berlin. That rounded off the whole process very well. There we discussed economic, social and ecological risks and dangers. Citizens made up half of the participants and experts from a variety of areas made up the other half. Their expertise certainly benefitted the quality of the discourse. The talks focused strongly on solutions for concrete problems, not on personal fears. Our conclusion was that we need to create incentives to fundamentally change the way we do business and how we consume, particularly under the aspect of sustainability. If we manage to change something in this respect, then we will be making some real progress with many security issues.

All in all, it was a really democratic process. People expressed many different opinions, highlighted very different kinds of problems, and also made numerous constructive suggestions for solutions. Everyone was listened to, and everyone received attentive responses, and this formed the basis for developing solutions. I found this very pleasant, very efficient and really productive.”


Sophie Deuerlein, 25, is studying business administration and sinology in Konstanz and, following a year of study abroad in China, she is now completing her master’s thesis.


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