Young people from Germany and Poland engage in creative marathon of ideas during the European Week North Rhine-Westphalia. The first instance of the Social Makerthon #CreateYourope delivered exciting results!

A more sustainable, more inclusive Europe

On May 7-8, young people aged 16 – 22 years developed ideas for a greener, more sustainable and more inclusive Europe: ideas ranged from urban gardening networks, sustainability festivals in collaboration with researchers and the local community, to innovations for public transport and DIY-approaches for tackling climate change and environmental pollution. The ideas will now be further developed by the Ruhr Regional Association (RVR), the organizer of the event. #Create Yourope took place in digital form and as part of the European Week NRW 2021. During a dynamic sprint for ideas, the participants developed ideas for projects in the Ruhr Metropolitan Area. The goal was to make the Ruhr Region and Europe as a whole Europe greener, more sustainable and participatory. The development of ideas was supported by inputs from experts from science and politics, including Dr. Henning Wilts from the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, and facilitated by members of the education network teamGLOBAL.

The new format was organized by the Ruhr Regional Association (RVR), Department for Education and Social Affairs together with the Department for European Affairs. The organization and implementation of the event was supported by city2science in collaboration with the European Science Engagement Association (EUSEA). #CreateYourope was selected to be part of the European Week North Rhine-Westphalia 2021 by the Federal Ministry for National, European and International Affairs.


After a welcoming by the RVR regional director Carola Geiß-Netthöfel, the Makerthon started with an inspiring keynote by Philipp Offergeld, project manager for climate protection at the Mercator Foundation. In the following, the participants discussed two challenges for which they also received input from experts in the field.

Challenge 1: Sustainable Innovations and Upcycling

Wanted: fresh ideas and innovative approaches to fight climate change! How can new technologies contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle? What is the role of social innovations and behavioural changes in that? And what distinguishes a sustainable innovation in the first place? This challenge was all about innovative ideas for climate protection in the Ruhr Metropolitan Region and all of Europe.

Expert: Carolin Lehman, project manager, Energie Impuls OWL e.V.

Whether it’s food, clothes or electric devices – many products go to the bin although they could still be used. How can waste be reduced or prevented in the first place? How can we make something new, useful or creative from waste? New ideas are needed to prevent everything from going straight to the bin!

Expert: Dr. Henning Wilts, Department for Circular Economy, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy

Challenge 2: Europe 2030 and the future of mobility

Climate neutrality, prosperity, and equality – how can Europe become more just and sustainable in the future? Which challenges and opportunities arise from the heterogeneity of its member states? What kind of Europe do we want to live in in 2030?

Expert: Prof. Dr. Michael Kaeding, Chair European Integration and European Union Politics, University Duisburg Essen

Whether it is travel, going to work or transport of goods – mobility needs to become more environmentally friendly. How to get from here to there without harming the environment and fostering climate change? What about shared mobility, cargo bikes or drones? And how can one make sure that as many people as possible profit from and use new forms of mobility? This challenge was all about developing ideas for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility.

Expert: PD Dr. habil. Ani Melkonyan-Gottschalk, CEO Centre for Logistics and Traffic, University Duisburg Essen

What is a Social Makerthon?

#CreateYourope took place as a Social Makerthon. Makerthons are an innovative format to tackle complex societal challenges. The word is a combination of the words “Maker“ and “Marathon“. Maker are creative people who aim to develop solutions directly by developing, building and crafting them themselves. While “Hackathons“ usually focus on technological and digital solutions, Social Makerthons foster the development of a diverse array of solutions, including creative and social approaches. They are therefore ideal to promote democratic engagement among young people and to foster social innovation and inclusion on a local and European level

The event was captured in a Sound Cloud by Essen-based artist Nils Mosh: