The Society for Structural Policy (SSP) was founded in 2006 as a registered non-profit society. Its objective is to support economic and social development in Germany, especially in the state of Northrhine- Westphalia, and abroad in regions that are challenged by structural change or economic decline.
During the last decades, Northrhine- Westphalia, its counties, communities or cities has faced serious decline in a number of “mature” industries like brown and hard coal mining, steel and the energy and manufacturing sectors. Economic and social change continues both in metropolitan areas at the Rhine and Ruhr and in rural areas. Disparities between the regions within the country remain a challenge.
In the context of our work, economic development is not limited to industrial, labour market policy or the development of the corporate sector. It also comprises areas that are of importance to address challenges deriving form globalization and technical progress, global warming and new approaches to increase energy efficiency and to create more resilient economies based on skilled human resources.
Economic progress needs to be accompanied by social inclusion, participation and support to those affected in order to gain acceptance and to capitalize on the wealth of resources available in the country.
European integration and the instruments put in place by the European Union not only constitute a driving force but are a major source of funding. This is also true for investment policy under the Europe 2020 strategy.
In this context, SSP serves as a platform to facilitate knowledge exchange between researchers, practitioners and stakeholders in local and regional economic development.
SSP connects experts from municipalities, counties, regions, development agencies, managing authorities of the different European funds, ministries, companies and universities to exchange and disseminate experience, sharing of knowledge and best practice in the field of local and regional social and economic development and the implementation of programmes and projects funded by the relevant European Instruments (Structural Funds; EFRE etc.).
SSP convenes and collects expertise gained within Europe, in countries in transition or developing countries during planning and implementation of actions aiming at social and economic development. This is done with the purpose of sharing insight views, best practice and lessons learned and to capitalize on experience and new methodologies that are gained or applied in a different context.
SSP serves as facilitator for peer consultations, conferences, workshops, study tours and may serve as a platform for twinning arrangements.
Recent workshops were inter alia focused on issues related to:
- Future of Structural Funds
- Corporate regional responsibility
- Participation of Civil Society in local economic / urban development
- Social innovation
- Smart Specialization
Excursions like the one to Liège (August, 2014) serve the purpose to gain first-hand experience on relevant strategies, initiatives, projects and methodologies implemented in regions that face challenges similar to those prevailing in Northrhine-Westfalia.
It may also facilitate knowledge exchange and capitalization of experience gained during the implementation of European instruments.