Peter Kurz, Mayor of Mannheim, Germany, since 2007
World Mayor Nominations 2021
Peter Kurz, Mayor of Mannheim, Germany
The 2021 World Mayor Prize and Commendations will be conferred on mayors who have been showing leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic and who are now aiming to make their cities more resilient economically, structurally, socially and environmentally. In fact: Stronger | Fairer | Greener. The organisers of the World Mayor Project are looking for mayors who have shown exceptional leadership skills but also, and more importantly, acted at all times with compassion towards those most affected by Covid-19. The pandemic has shown how vulnerable even the richest cities are when confronted with a disaster like Covid-19. Forward-looking city leaders will now begin to re-think how their communities can be better protected against future threats, both natural and man-made.
Peter Kurz, Mayor of Mannheim, Germany, has been shortlisted for the 2021 World Mayor Prize.
You may wish to support him further and comment on his achievements and plans for his city.
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Mayor of Mannheim (Germany)
Nominated by Christian S., Mannheim:
I’d like to vote for Dr. Peter Kurz, Mayor of Mannheim.
As a managing director of a publicly owned company of the city of Mannheim, I am responsible to fulfill and execute his vision and strategy for the startup ecosystem, urban cultural innovation, female entrepreneurship and creative economy. I have worked with Peter Kurz for almost twenty years. As head of the board he is directly responsible for all the activities of NEXT MANNHEIM.
His long-term strategy to strengthen Mannheim with regard to innovation, sustainability, diversity and international cooperation changed Mannheim significantly. The new mission statement „Mannheim 2030“, based on the SDGs, led us to be the first publicly owned company to do a "Common Goods Balance Sheet“ in 2019. At the moment, we are in the process to transform all our impact in sustainable ways. Peter Kurz helped to develop a startup ecosystem with 340 startups in eight (!) startup centers - outstanding in Germany! Please keep in mind that Mannheim has approx. 320.000 citizens and is much smaller than other cities with comparable figures. A green tech startup center is in planning and will open in 2024. Mannheim is ranked number 4 in Germany with regard to the number of tech-startups (after Berlin, Hamburg and Munich). 94% of the startups are university driven. The satisfaction rate of the startups in the ecosystem is at 90%, which is the number one position in Germany.
Within the last twenty years, Mannheim turned from a city challenged by structural changes to a diverse, agile and innovative startup hotspot. Dr. Kurz knew that startup ecosystems need more than financing, hubs, consulting and business opportunities. He understood very early on that it also needs culture, nightlife and attractive urban surroundings in which young and creative people would like to work and live. This is one reason he focused on cultural and creative industries with a particular focus music and the music industry. Since 2013, Manheim has been a UNESCO City of Music and in 2018 the city of Mannheim pioneered the first night mayor position in Germany. Both projects were initiated under his leading responsibility at NEXT MANNHEIM.
Dr. Kurz had a holistic strategy with regard to the startup ecosystem and the support for the cultural and creative industries and night culture. His aim was to change and develop the city and its neighborhoods with these tools. That is why we support and promote startups, cultural projects and urban development in one unit. All our startup centers are in urban locations. All of them are integrated in local neighborhoods with the objective to foster and leverage dynamic, resilient and prosperous urban dynamics. Through our focus on female entrepreneurship, we aim to increase the number of female tech founders and in international co-operations with other cities (e.g. Toulon, Moscow, Hebron, Tel Aviv) we are heavily engaged in the exchange of knowledge, startups and experiences.
As long as I have known Dr. Kurz, he has consistently worked 80 hour weeks on his mission to make Mannheim a future oriented, modern, fair, diverse, save, clean, prosperous and healthy city.
Nominated by Nir T., outside Germany:
I had the pleasure of spending time and getting to know Dr. Kurz via an innovation project he initiated in his city - and was very happy to meet a responsible and future-orientated mayor with a clear vision for Mannheim as a city in which economy and sustainability are no longer opposites, but actually work and thrive harmoniously together.
He deeply understands and supports the idea of sustainable innovation and entrepreneurial thinking as an essential component of education in schools - and his approach, that of building international networks with other cities, made it happen: we implemented these teaching contents and introduced NYU's Certificate of Entrepreneurship to the curriculum of two schools in Mannheim.
Thanks to Dr. Kurz's insight, values and energy a cooperation of an American university, an Israeli professor and a city in Germany took off - and still continues to fly.
Nominated by S. A., Mannheim:
During the Corona pandemic, I perceive Mayor Dr. Peter Kurz above all as a great communicator who was present in many places and never tired of explaining the necessary measures to his citizens and campaigning for compliance and acceptance. This is essential not only because Mannheim is a very multicultural city but also because it borders two other German states, where different Corona measures apply in some cases.
I also remember his constant appeal for solidarity, especially with seniors and the chronically ill, and people who can't do their jobs because of Corona.
Even though Corona is undoubtedly a cut, the mayor has not been deterred and has continued to promote important things for society: This is noticeable in the cityscape because cafés have been allowed to extend their outdoor areas into parking lots, there are more and more bicycle lanes, and now there are even discussions about car-free streets. But even beyond that, international relations with cities in China, for example, have been strengthened and pushed forward. The mayor also always has an open ear for the existing knowledge and expertise from the start-up ecosystem, be it concretely related to Corona or not.
Therefore, Mayor Dr. Peter Kurz deserves to merit his leadership during the pandemic and his vision of an economically prosperous, socially, and environmentally friendly city.
Nominated by Marcin K., outside Germany:
Since 2020 Peter Kurz, the Mayor of Mannheim has demonstrated mastery of interpersonal, managerial and leadership skills in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. In March 2020 he held his first conference call with concerned citizens from companies under the gastronomy sector and the creative industry, who have been affected by the uprising of the corona virus crisis. The meeting, in which 500 enterprises participated, was shared as a live video on Facebook, visible to all. The conference was one of the many actions dedicated to fighting the social and economic consequences of the pandemic.
Apart from the pandemic, I should mention the city's great development in recent years. Since 2014, Mannheim has been a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and holds the title of ‘UNESCO City of Music’. Mannheim is also a smart city; the city's electrical grid is installed with a power-line communication network.
Peter Kurz as Chair of the Global Parliament of Mayors has involved other mayors from all over the world to take action and share experiences.
Nominated by A. H., Mannheim:
In 2018, I moved to Mannheim because of the startup ecosystem and some personal contacts within it. But only when living here, I really could evaluate and honor the work that is done in Mannheim for citizens, culture, security, innovation and development - on an hollistic basis.
When I first met Dr. Peter Kurz personally I was really impressed by his ability to listen carefully, his hollistic overview and ambitions about the projects of the city and his clear communication.
In my opinion, communication and information flow play an important role in a city. Especially, in times of Covid 19, Mayor Kurz managed to communicate directly, immediatley and also reaching out to different target groups (citizens, schools, enterprises, artists, gastronomy). For examply, in such short time there were Facebook Q&A sessions established for all questions concerning the lockdown and help from the government for gastronomy.
I also want to emphasize on the international mindset and the relationships with different twin cities or friendships held with cities from around the world, which reassures the cultural openness of Mannheim as a city.
Mannheim was also one of the first cities that established the "Leitbild 2030", based on the SDGs of the United Nations. I think this shows exactly, how Mayor Kurz manages to integrate the wishes of citizens as well as over-all goals that are important for a better world. It is not easy to break such goals down to concrete ideas for a livable city, but within this process it became possible.
Overall, Mayor Kurz can be described as a progressive leader who is open to new ideas and willing to chance the city and the world to the better.
Challenges for Mannheim: - more possibilities to bring in ideas from the citizens (e.g. through Bürgerrat) - more green spaces
Nominated by Oliver B., Mannheim:
I have been working with Dr. Kurz for a couple of years in the roles of a young business founder and the representative of the German Startup Association in the region of Mannheim. Every time we met and spoke, I experienced a man who was sharp in his analysis and extremely attentive to detail and nuances. This sharpness and attention to detail is impressing by itself but even more when you consider the wide array of topics that Mr Kurz has to deal with within the timeframe of a day.
In particular during the pandemic, it was also his merits that Mannheim fared well through the crisis. Owing to his crisis management experience (Lehman economic shock) he managed to put Mannheim in a position where it will emerge even stronger and fairer from the crisis.
Nominated by Anna B., Mannheim:
As Lord Mayor of the City of Mannheim, Dr Peter Kurz has recognized the respective signs of the times and placed them in the context of the city: Starting with the change from an industrial location to a service industry with a special focus on the cultural and creative industries, to the integration of the United Nations Global Sustainability Goals into the city's strategy, to the current developments due to the Corona pandemic, where, in addition to a multitude of measures to contain the pandemic, the protection of the cultural landscape in particular was an important concern of the city's leadership.
The people of the city and their well-being today and in the future are the focus of his work.
Recommendations for Stonger | Fairer | Greener cities:
Stronger | Fairer | Greener stands for the fact that the task of a livable city of the future is far more than just providing basic services. This transformation succeeds with intersectoral cooperation, the breaking up of existing structures, exchange at the municipal, national and international level, and the promotion of diversity.
Nominated by Thomas S., Mannheim:
Peter Kurz is an incredibly committed mayor. For us cultural workers, it is an important factor in the creative life of the city. Creative life always means quality of life and Peter Kurz recognized and promoted this early on. Thanks to him, a city like Mannheim has an internationally recognized cultural landscape.
Nominated by Katrin R., Germany:
Mayor Peter Kurz has a vision for his city where social, cultural and economic welfare will be ensured by fostering ecological and technological progress providing cultural values and skills to all citizens, thus improving social mobility.
Mayor Peter Kurz permanently creates curiosity and reliability among his staff. People and ideas from outside Mannheim are always welcome.
It is a pleasure to have transferred The look of sound - an annual international forum inviting professionals of the music film industry to Mannheim in 2016. People of different public fields (such as live music and TV productions, TV and streaming platforms, musicians and their audiences) meet and discuss subjects of future media development and media policy.
Whenever I looked for support and counterparts, I have always gotten friendly and efficient help and feedback - coming from outside Mannheim, this seems to me the best sign of good government.
Mayor Peter Kurz merits to be among the best Mayors of the World.
Nominated by Susan Z., Mannheim
I have started in February 2020 as new director of the Goethe Institute Mannheim, taking over from my predecessor, who left for a new posting in South-East-Asia. He handed over to me in mentioning to me, how important Mayor Dr. Peter Kurz always had been supporting Goethe Institute Mannheim as part of Mannheim’s rich landscape of cultural institutions.
Ever since, I have worked in Mannheim, I have witnessed this strong support by Dr. Kurz. Due to his wish, the City of Mannheim allocates an annual amount of funding to our Institute, which helps us to bear the costs of monthly rent.
Over and above, Dr. Kurz is highly interested in international cultural affairs. We had several times the opportunity to speak with each other in varies contexts. He always emphasised the need to network and learn from each other in all aspects of good public governance. As I see it, Dr. Kurz intends to creative good governance in order to create a city, which enables its citizens to feel welcome, to participate in all aspects (socially, educational wise, cultural and political). I consider this aspect as highly important, since Mannheim is in the best sense a multicultural city.
I do think, that Dr. Peter Kurz as Mayor of Mannheim since 2007 stands out from other mayors in various ways:
It is my understanding, he possesses a clear vision and strategy for Mannheim, a very good hand and passion for democratic, partner-based national and international cooperation, an outstanding sense of how good public governance should be and a high understanding of responsibility for all aspects of public governance and public live in a large city.
One of your questions concerns the ability of Dr. Kurz zu lead the City through the covid-19-pandemie. Let me conclude and summarize: Yes, Dr. Peter Kurz is worth receiving the 20/21 World Mayors Prize! He is constantly with us in this enormous crisis! He speaks to us, his citizen, informs us and takes care of us in various ways.
Dr. Peter Kurz definitely stands out as Mayor of Mannheim. I will be therefore very proud if you consider Dr. Peter Kurz and nominate him. He deserves this nomination! Thank you very much for choosing him as winner of the 20/21 World Mayor Prize!
For your information: The Goethe Institute is the cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany with a global reach. We promote knowledge of the German language abroad and foster international cultural cooperation.
Nominated by Carsten W., outside Germany:
Peter Kurz turned the UNESCO City of Music into a laboratory of the future at new interfaces. It should be emphasized how he further developed the ‘Mannheim four pillars pop music model’ (Pop Academy, Music Grüdungspark, Cluster Management Music Industry, Pop Representative) with the appointment of a Cultural Innovation Officer (!) and a night mayor e.g., and how he repeatedly mediates established structures with new economical, technical and cultural conjunctions.
Recommendations for Stronger | Fairer | Greener cities:
Cities should support new independent network initiatives and their co-organizers more than before in their support, especially of new micro-actors and their networked open collaborative activities that are typical for them. As a result of the increase in open, collaborative networking, urban space is becoming fairer and more and more people can experience the city as a process that civil society can help shape.
Nominated by C. H., Mannheim:
I moved to Mannheim a few years ago. When I arrived here, I quickly got the impression that among German cities Mannheim is one of the few that is actively facing the challenges of the 21st century: how to live together in a diverse society, how to deal with climate change, how to transform the economy in the digital age. That Mannheim is engaging actively in these transformations and challenges has a lot to do with Mayor Peter Kurz. He is a mayor with a vision, a clear stand and the ability to inspire people - within the city's administration as well as in the city itself.
Mr Kurz started a process of transforming the city's civil service to become more agile and more accessible. He also opened up political and administrative processes to become more participatory. In his administration, great efforts are being made to communicate with the public thoroughly and quickly, to answer questions, take concerns seriously, react to recommendations and impulses. Within the administration, he put topics like cultural diversity, the role of women in our society, participation even on small political and societal levels and the balance of economical growth and the need for ecological sustainability on top of the city's agenda.
Mr Kurz has a deep understanding for the importance of the arts, the educational and the cultural sector as agents for societal change. This has lead to Mannheim becoming a vibrant hotspot for different arts scenes as well for new economical enterprises growing out of the creative scenes.
Since the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic Mayor Kurz has quickly implemented strict local policies to prevent the virus from spreading. However, all of his decisions were well informed and well communicated and were only being taken after thinking things through and hearing different perspectives.
Nominated by Andrew D., outside Germany:
Dr Kurz has been a far-sighted champion of the central role that the culture and creative industries must play in innovating stronger, more equitable, more liveable and greener cities. His understanding of the role of the Arts and cultural sector in bringing together brilliant minds from across industry and government sectors to solve the most pressing problems of the world today through collaboration and experimentation as well as his support for innovative startups and SMEs that support this vision is admirable.
Nominated by Ingo S., Germany:
Peter Kurz is known to me from a period as director of the Goethe-Institut Mannheim (until 2020), i.e. until immediately before the corona pandemic. His sensitivity and attention to issues of integration/migration, creative industries and cultural policy were extraordinary. His speeches were consistently inspiring, his actions always with integrity. His actions were always guided by the UN's 17 sustainable development Goals.
Challenges: Prioritising public interest
Nominated by Caroline S., outside Germany:
During the Covid pandemic Mayor Peter Kurz has shown outstanding leadership to his citizens as mayor of the city of Mannheim and has been an inspiration to his fellow mayors around the world as Chair of the Global Parliament of Mayors.
During the last year he has strongly, concertedly, and repeatedly advocated for a fair recognition of the important role of cities for a future multilateral and rules-based international political system and the transition of the United Nations towards the United Nations and Cities of the World. The GPM plea has been included in the UN report 'The future we want, the United Nations we need' that has been published on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.
Recommendations for Stronger | Fairer | Greener cities:
Cities can be stronger, fairer and greener by working closely together across borders to position urban governance in geopolitics. By doing so, they will give a voice to the reality of interconnected cities in the actual world system, to express the specificities of the urban way of life and to demand the necessary competences to be able to deal with the challenges of good local government.
The Global Parliament of Mayors facilitates the debates between mayors, national governance and international organisations and aims to drive systematic action to take on global and national challenges and opportunities to achieve political change on a global change.
Nominated by Matthias R., Mannheim:
Mayor Dr. Peter Kurz has shown exceptional leadership not only during the COVID-19 pandemic but has transformed the entire city of Mannheim into a more innovative, creative, sustainable and thus also safer city over the last 14 years. During the first 9 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Kurz was key in providing important support measures primarily for stakeholders that were particularly affected by the pandemic, namely artists and creatives, cultural institutions, restaurants, bars and any other businesses that could not sufficiently be supported through federal support programs. Mayor Kurz installed a COVID-19 task force early on during the pandemic in order to steer and strategically align all municipal actions with regard to the pandemic. Vitally important financial support programs were initiated alongside more co-creative approaches such as digital design thinking workshops on new and alternative business models in the realms of the music industry, film industry, performance arts, night culture and nighttime economy and the retail sector.
Moreover, a special support program for clubs and live music venues was established. Furthermore, mayor Kurz has led and guided a detailed and extensive participatory process for the guiding process and mission statement for Mannheim 2030 that is based on the SDGs and aims to transform Mannheim into an even safer, greener and more sustainable future utilizing culture, creativity and innovation as important driving forces in this regard. Finally, under Dr. Kurz‚s initiative, the City of Mannheim has engaged widely in various international networks, such as UNESCO Creative Cities network, EuroCities network or Global Parliament of Mayors (for which Dr. Kurz currently serves as a member of the executive committee) among others in order to learn from the world and also share some of our experiences in Mannheim with the world, always highlighting the central role of cities in solving the global problems of our times.
Recommendations for Stronger | Fairer | Greener cities:
The intensification of cross-sectoral innovation and cooperation processes seem key in order to tackle the major urban challenges of our time. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that engaging in international networks and exchange becomes even more important in times of crisis in order to learn from each other and also pass on important experiences and best-practices. The transformation of downtown centers will be among the most pressing issues facing cities after the pandemic offering huge potentials for a more diverse, ecological, sustainable and inclusive uses in the future.
Nominated by Emmanuel W., outside Germany:
I have been in close collaboration from the cultural side with the city of Mannheim through numerous initiatives and joint projects. The mayor’s strategic approach and realization of transforming Mannheim to a powerhouse of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship is a beacon that should serve mayors around the world for re-imaginion and implementation of the potential of a city.
Mr. Kurz His role in creating the space for an eco-system for artists and students through the pop academy and the school form oriental music, creating possibilities for young professionals both in culture and in the terrain of entrepreneurship is profound. In addition his vision to place Mannheim as a global leader and partner for connecting art, innovation, culture, technology and entrepreneurship have also been powerful. I have had the opportunity and pleasure to take part in few from the ‘Allez Hop’ conference in which I was keynote speaker partnering France and Mannheim, our joint project with the British Council Mix the City that told the story of contemporary life in Mannheim through music that reached over 2.5 million people around the world and many other collaborations. Mr. Kurz’s vision, drive, openness and implementation have been transformative to create a resilient and strong base for the city.
Nominated by Christian S., Mannheim:
I have worked with Mayor Peter Kurz for nearly twenty years as a managing director of a public owned company of the city of Mannheim. From the beginning on, Dr. Kurz was long term visionary and followed a strategic approach in transferring Mannheim into a sustainable, green, modern and livable city.
He established support for creative industries to develop backward districts years before it became a mega-trend. He made Mannheim (a comparatively small city) one of the startup-hotspots in Germany and now raising the claim to support sustainable innovation and especially female entrepreneurship against the background of the new mission statement of the city "Mannheim 2030", which is oriented on the SDG of the UN.
He initiated the first Night Mayor in Germany to take care of the clubs, music-scene, restaurants, bars and to mediate disputes between those institutions and residents.
Recommendations for Stronger | Fairer | Greener cities:
- Support international networks to exchange know-how
- Initiate that cities learn from each other
- Let the authorities/municipality think and work trans-sectoral and interactive
- Destroy old-fashioned structures and hierarchies. Give diversity the power to decide (also in every days business). Old white man, will make old white decisions.
- More Women and younger people in leading roles and positions
- Ban the cities for cars wherever you can