Industrial heartlands in the green transformation

How can industrial heartlands in Germany and the United States be drivers of a just transition?

Industrial heartlands on both sides of the Atlantic have been at the forefront of fundamental transformations throughout the past decades and show similar contemporary phenomenologies. Specific socioeconomic geographies, from the American Midwest to eastern Germany, are challenged by surging illiberal populist movements. They face severe demographic challenges and are battlegrounds for escalating culture wars and rural-urban divisions. At the same time, industrial heartlands are bell weathers for successfully shaping inbound structural change. They are home to populations with extensive transformation experience and could, therefore, contribute valuable lessons in the processes that shape the systemic changes underway. This is all the more reason to shine a new spotlight on industrial heartlands, and in the following, we provide impulses on how to do so from a climate, work, and innovation perspective.


Friedrich Opitz

Program director at the German-American institute Saxony
Friedrich Wolfgang Opitz is program director at the German-American Institute Saxony in Leipzig, Germany.

Kira Vinke

Head of the Center for Climate and Foreign Policy at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
Dr. Kira Vinke is head of the Center for Climate and Foreign Policy at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP).

Nicholas Courtney

Team Lead for the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program at the U.S. Department of Commerce
Nicholas Courtney is a Makah Tribal Citizen and currently works for the U.S. Department of Commerce as a Team Lead for the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.

Elisabeth Winter

Program director Global Markets and Social Justice at Bundeskanzler-Helmut-Sschmidt-Stiftung (BKHS)
Elisabeth’s work centers on the politics of international trade. In her role as programme director “Global Markets and Social Justice” at Bundeskanzler-Helmut-Schmidt-Stiftung (BKHS) she researches possibilities for a more equitable global trade governance focusing on transatlantic trade cooperation and its social consequences at national and international levels.

Vera Gohla

Policy Advisor for Economic and Structural Policy at the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation (FES)
Vera Gohla is a Policy Advisor for Economic and Structural Policy at the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation. She holds degrees in International Affairs (M.A.) from the Hertie School in Berlin and European Studies and Economics (B.A.) from the University of Osnabrück.

Whitney Terrill

Environmental justice organizer at the Sierra Club North Star Chapter
Whitney Terrill joined the North Star Chapter as an Environmental Justice Organizer in 2022. In Minnesota, Whitney recently served as the Environmental Justice Program Manager at Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light where she designed, coordinated, and facilitated community-based programming and partnerships for MNIPL and individual faith communities.

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