The Innovation in Politics Awards 2021: Politicians from 25 countries compete for innovation prize

Vienna, 12 October 2021 – An increasing variety of innovation in almost all areas of politics: This is the main revelation of this year’s Innovation in Politics Awards. With 413 projects submitted by politicians from all major parties from 25 European countries, the Covid crisis and the climate crisis turn out to be strong drivers of change in political work. The winners of the awards in its nine categories will be announced in events across Europe. 

Whether it’s saving lives, protecting jobs and the economy, or making school education possible with digital tools – in 2021, innovations in politics can be seen on all levels of politics and in all parties. As coping with the COVID-19 pandemic has now been a huge challenge for politicians for almost two years, political work has changed substantially throughout Europe. 

“When things fall apart, old-school ways of doing politics are no longer practicable. Financial crisis, refugee crisis, climate crisis, and Covid – unusual situations are becoming the rule in political work. Those in politics who are creative and courageous are rewarded by their citizens at home, but also at the Innovation in Politics Awards, so that others across Europe can draw inspiration from their work,” as Edward Strasser points out, CEO and co-founder of the Innovation in Politics Institute. 

As a consequence of the Covid crisis and a huge amount of new climate policies, the Innovation in Politics Awards 2021 bear witness to an unprecedented quality of new politics, with three major trends:

Global crises make local politics more important. With the national levels of politics busy with overall crisis management, mayors, city councillors and other local politicians have to cope with the fallout of crises, in many cases on their own. With no blueprints available, the number of creative solutions increases. Best practice can be found in the rebuilding of local supply chains, local improvements to the health care system after COVID-19, and new mobility concepts.  

Climate protection has finally found its way into mainstream politics. As climate protection has become a central pledge of politicians in most campaigns, an increasing number of innovative political projects can be found throughout Europe. From city cargo bikes to new types of local energy supply, and from local food forests to reforming industry production with hydrogen technology – politicians are trying out new ways to reduce carbon emissions, with often impressive results. 

Covid gave a push to digitalisation in all areas of politics. Physically distanced communities found new ways to connect with each other, e.g. with participation technologies that give citizens a role in public decision-making. New education platforms support learning, in some cases even with digital outdoor lessons. Digital tools have been introduced to reduce waste, to increase social cohesion, and even to launch virtual currencies for citizens. 

Patricia Kahane, entrepreneur and co-founder of the Innovation in Politics Institute, on this year’s results: “Solving the Covid crisis on the local and regional level needed a big portion of pragmatism, as many politicians had to toss old methods overboard. But only with a strong set of underlying European values – like democracy, human rights, prosperity and freedom – can such innovation positively influence our communities. And fortunately, this was the case in most parts of Europe.”

Award ceremonies and conferences in nine cities

This year’s Innovation in Politics Awards will be celebrated as a pan-European series of events, taking place from December 2021 until February 2022. Under the auspices of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, and the patronage of European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica, each event is dedicated to one awards category – Community, Democracy, Digitalisation, Ecology, Economy, Education, Human Rights, Quality Of Life and COVID-19 Strategies – and consists of an exchange conference and an awards ceremony. 

The events are supported by 

H.E. Alexander Van der Bellen, Federal President of Austria

H.E. Eduard Heger, Prime Minister of Slovakia

H.E. Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe

H.E. Dubravka Šuica, European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography

Prof Jerzy Buzek, MEP, former President of the European Parliament and former Prime Minister of Poland

Allan Larsson, former Finance Minister of Sweden

Barbro Westerholm, MP, former Director General of the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare

Prof Jutta Allmendinger, President of the WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Antonio Rosati, CEO of EUR S.p.A.

About the Innovation in Politics Awards 

The Innovation in Politics Awards recognise courageous and creative political projects in Europe. The aim of the competition is to identify the brightest minds in politics in Europe and present their solutions to other politicians across borders and party lines for inspiration. Over the past five years, citizens’ juries of 5,000 Europeans have selected 42 winners out of over 2,000 political projects. Initiator of the awards is the Innovation in Politics Institute, a mission-driven company that identifies, develops and applies innovation in politics in order to strengthen democracy in Europe and beyond. 

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