Finding opportunities in declining cities

Finding opportunities in declining cities

The overarching theme of this good practice is strategic management in the context of long-term decline and stagnation. After local industries closed, the population of Altena (DE) shrank by 43% between 1975 and 2014. Facing diminishing resources and increasingly complex problems, Altena shifted its strategic objectives to focus on controlling decline rather than growth. The municipality adjusted its priorities, working more closely with citizens. Actions include: organisational restructuring (such as downsizing and resource-sharing), developing civil society (including the involvement of hundreds of volunteers), economic revitalisation (through tourism, for example), and integration of refugees. In 2015 Altena's population increased for the first time since the 1970s. Municipal finances have improved, there are fewer empty shops, and unemployment has fallen for the first time in 40 years.


Altena municipality