Just and inclusive climate action in German cities.


Cities' climate initiatives and ambitions need to be socially just and consider vulnerable populations, to ensure that no-one is left behind. INCLU:DE aims to support local inclusive transformations and foster dialogue exchanges to generate positive equity outcomes for all citizens involved.


Traditionally, climate mitigation strategies, plans and actions have prioritized greenhouse gas reduction as the key metric of their success, while oftentimes neglecting the necessity of embedding social equity in their design and implementation. In the INCLU:DE project, we place a specific emphasis on how to address challenges like fair and equitable resource distribution and benefits allocation, while ensuring that GHG reduction goals are not being compromised.


Read the INCLU:DE definition of socially equitable climate action here.

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Climate change initiatives will be more effective when they reach all members of society, particularly vulnerable and marginalized groups who are more at risk. Social justice is therefore becoming a core goal for cities tasked with the design and implementation of climate initiatives. Cities play an important role in facilitating social just climate action because they are the level of government most closely connected to citizens and policy implementation in practice.


The INCLU:DE project, implemented by ICLEI and supported by Stiftung Mercator, will guide German cities in their endeavours to create and implement just and inclusive climate actions. To this end, INCLU:DE will build on the learnings of the Urban Transitions Alliance and the 17 Keys for Sustainable and Just Cities from UrbanA, two pioneering projects aimed at strengthening social equity principles in designing climate and environmental interventions. The project goals are: (1) ensuring climate interventions include social equity considerations and benefits; (2) strategically aligning local climate and equity priorities; and (3) developing a methodology for scaling up just and inclusive climate action.


The cities of Bonn, Heidelberg, Ludwigsburg, Dortmund and Essen have joined the INCLU:DE project to improve social justice considerations in their local climate initiatives (spanning different areas such as energy, mobility, housing and urban development). Collaboration with international frontrunner cities in the field of just and inclusive climate action will ensure that best practices can be mainstreamed across local governments



Dortmund aims to offer inclusive energy-saving building renovation subsidies designed to prioritize low-income households. The city plans to tailor its subsidy program to ensure it does not drive up rents or in other ways contribute to gentrification. The aim is to encourage building owners and landlords to undertake retrofits that benefit all residents, especially low-income tenants.

Read Dortmund's city profile.



City of Dortmund. Credit: Benito Barajas


Heidelberg is dedicated to achieving energy efficiency in the Hasenleiser district, refining their building retrofitting subsidy program to prioritise support for low-income residents. The city aims to foster inclusivity by developing a comprehensive communication strategy that effectively reaches and motivates low-income communities to take advantage of these subsidies.

Read Heidelberg's city profile.


City of Heidelberg. Credit: Stadt Heidelberg


Ludwigsburg's goals include offering customised climate-friendly subsidies, understanding barriers preventing low-income households from applying for balcony solar module subsidies, and refining its subsidy programme to address these barriers. The city also plans to implement an effective communication and outreach strategy to encourage low-income households to participate in the subsidy program.

Read Ludwigsburg's city profile.


City of Ludwigsburg. Credit: Stuttgart Marketing GmbH


Bonn aims to advance its climate goals through the establishment of inclusive Climate Offices that promote environmentally friendly lifestyles in both low- and high-emission target areas. Special emphasis will be placed on developing effective communication strategies to engage low-income communities.

Read Bonn's city profile.


City of Bonn. Credit: Giacomo Zucca / Bundesstadt Bonn


Essen seeks to attain a more sustainable modal split through the expansion of its municipal subsidy programme and public sharing system for cargo bikes. By incorporating the needs of low-income households in the design of this programme, Essen aims to enable and incentivise all residents to make use of these alternative modes of transportation.

Read Essen's city profile.



Project duration: 2.5 years, starting 2023.

Supported by



Rebecca Wessinghage

Daniel Botha

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