I am one of the candidates for the municipality elections in Niederanven that are to be held on the 8th of October 2017. I am running for the LSAP and our programme can be downloaded here. So who am I, why am I a candidate and what are my main objectives?
Who am I?
I was born in Germany in a small village close to the Dutch boarder in 1980. When I was 15 I went to a boarding school in Wolverhampton, England. I then did a Bacholar in Economics at the University of Essex, England, and continued my studies with a Masters in Economics at the London School of Economics, England. By that time I had met my now wife, who is Luxembourgish, and with whom (and our kids) I am living in Oberanven.
Since I grew up in a small village, then moved to industrial cities in England, I learnt to value the environment, a relaxed and quiet atmosphere, and the value of community and family life. No doubt my parents, but also my grandparents and brother and sisters were a major influence there. This then led me to focus more closely on studying environmental issues, and I thus continued with a PhD in economics and environment at the University of Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, in Belgium. Wanting to work on my research agenda as close to Luxembourg as possible I found a position for a year at Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, France, and a year I worked on a research project financed by Swiss Re at the University of Trier, Germany.
It was then the time of the financial crisis, and I felt I wanted to contribute more to the stability of world, while also staying in Luxembourg since our son had been born. Thus I worked at the Central Bank of Luxembourg and helped to develop the Basel III regulations (which are the new banking regulations that came out of the financial crisis), which was an exciting time for sure.
However, I then obtained an offer from the IPAG Business School in Paris, which I decided to take as I also started to feel unsatisfied at the Central Bank of Luxembourg. The financial crisis was more or less over, the big steps had been taken, the main framework for the new banking regulations had been set. So I went back to research and teaching, and since 2012 I have been a Professor of Economics at IPAG Business School in Paris.
Why am I a candidate?
I learnt to love Niederanven and I sincerely enjoy living in the commune. I love the regular meetings with the neighbours and the fact that most people know each other. This gives a sense of community and belonging that one will never find in a big city.
However, while I find that our commune has developed mostly in the right directions, there are several issues that could be improved upon. One is a sense of overall direction, as to where to commune is heading, and other issues concern points about living together. I believe that I can help to change this. So what are these points?
What are my main objectives?
- The current population growth target in the commune Niederanven is 3% per year. That would mean a doubling of the population by 2040! I did some analysis of this and found that every free space within the commune would be built upon, plus most of the free land that is used for farming which, in the current regulations (based on the PAG), must not be built upon. In addition, we would need to build another school, another commune centre, another sports centre, etc. Where are all these constructions going to take place without losing the character of the village and without reducing our quality of life?
For me, this does not make sense. My objective is to set a maximum population size for the commune Niederanven which allows us to keep the village character. Here I am also more restrictive than what the LSAP program suggests as we only settled on a lower population growth rate than the current one. However I do hope to do more convincing that only a population target is the right way and not a target growth rate. Still, as we note in the LSAP program, we do not want to be another city close to Luxembourg city.
- Due to my research focus on environmental economics I learnt that sustainability is the key not only at the world or country level, but that we also need to start at the level of municipalities. Thus, the goal/vision is to make Niederanven the most sustainable commune in Luxembourg. I hope to achieve two objectives: One, sustainability in terms of finances, the character of the village, and moves towards more greener transportation plus noise reductions. Here, for me, especially important is we in Niederanven develop an extensive network of bicycle paths so that basically everything can be done by bicycles. Also the commute to work. Similarly, the protection and development of our local wells must be assured. Two, I hope to create a sort of competition between the municipalities in Luxembourg and start a move towards sustainability from the ground up. If our politicians are unwilling to do that, then the municipalities have to take action.
- I believe that there is a lack of interaction between the old and the young nowadays. Nevertheless, small communities like Niederanven are places that should be well-suited to provide a platform for this interaction. Here my views are as follows: One, we should provide more help for the elderly at home and more possibilities for shared living and supported residential units for the elderly. Two, the commune needs to buy more land and provide cheaper, smaller housing units for young families. Three, we need to provide more platforms for interaction between the young and the elderly. You will find more specific thoughts on this in the LSAP program which you can download here: WAHLPROGRAMM-2017.
Given my studies on environmental economics, I feel that I am well-suited to address these points in Niederanven. You will not see me doing campagning for the election or showing my face at all the official events. That’s not my cup of tea. But, if given the opportunity, I will do my best to address the points that I raised above.