The road towards a foreign policy of societies

“The road towards a foreign policy of societies” is a symposium which was held at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin on 30 November. It launched strategic dialogue between the Federal Foreign Office and Germany’s foundations to identify opportunities for new partnerships that pursue common strategic objectives.

In a speech early this year, Federal Foreign Minister Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier mentioned Ralph Dahrendorf’s concept of moving “from a foreign policy of nations to a foreign policy of societies”.
This idea of expanding foreign policy to include elements of national and foreign civil societies, their interests, expertise and potential is becoming increasingly important to foreign policy dialogue, decision and action processes in this age of global interconnectivity.

Private, non-profit foundations and political foundations are key players and important partners in public policy making. In particular, they embody organised civil society in the political and pre-political arena. The idea for this symposium originated at a meeting between representatives of German foundations and Federal Minister Steinmeier in the spring of 2015. Together, we want to explore the opportunities and potential associated with strategic cooperations. We will especially be looking at existing successful partnerships, including international partnerships.
In terms of establishing the prerequisites for successful cooperation between the Federal Foreign Office and foundations, and gauging the amount of as yet untapped synergies that exist, the symposium has two objectives:

  1. On-going strategic dialogue between the parties and
  2. a constructive analysis of past partnerships to define areas of cooperation.

The symposium is jointly funded by the Robert Bosch Foundation, the Bertelsmann Foundation, the Schwarzkopf Foundation and the TUI Foundation. (Download programme).