Local news translated – Jan 25, 2024

Graphic by U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

Host Nation Update, Jan. 25, 2024

Second Round Table “Immigration into Health and Care Professions”

The focus of the second-round table “Immigration into Health and Care Professions” was on expediting the procedures for recognizing foreign qualifications in the medical and nursing fields, particularly through digitization.

The acceleration of procedures for recognizing foreign qualifications in the medical and nursing fields, especially through digitization, was at the forefront of the second-round table “Immigration into Health and Care Professions,” which took place earlier this week in Stuttgart.

“With a view to the great demand for professionals in the health sector, we must do everything to expedite and simplify the procedures for recognizing foreign qualifications without neglecting patient safety. A crucial element in this process is the digitization of application submission and processing,” emphasized Minister of Social Affairs Manne Lucha.

Significant improvement in the evaluation and optimization process Lucha also referred to the successfully implemented measures from the evaluation and optimization process conducted by the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Stuttgart Regional Council, which has already significantly improved the recognition process. However, the optimization of internal processes is an ongoing process that must be continuously pursued.

Siegfried Lorek, State Secretary in the Ministry of Justice and for Migration, emphasized the importance of fast and efficient procedures at all levels involved in skilled worker immigration for successful personnel recruitment: “All stakeholders at all levels must work together to ensure the swift entry of urgently needed personnel. It is good that we are in constant exchange on this important topic because there are many different factors that need adjustment.”

Recognition applications increased by 60 percent in addition to optimizations in the recognition process, the Stuttgart Regional Council, which is centrally responsible for recognizing foreign professional qualifications in the health sector in Baden-Württemberg, has temporarily gained seven additional part-time staff to support the processing of applications. This is in response to the significant increase in recognition applications, which rose by around 60 percent in 2023 compared to 2022 – all aiming to process applications for recognition of foreign professional qualifications acquired abroad as quickly as possible. Additionally, three individuals are temporarily assigned from the Ministry of Social Affairs to the Stuttgart Regional Council.

“A swift recognition is important to us. Through optimizations and targeted information measures, the quality of applications has improved. However, around 60 percent of applications still arrive incomplete, which prolongs the processing time,” said Regional President Susanne Bay. At the same time, Bay emphasized, “We cannot be satisfied with the current situation and must collectively work to improve it. In addition to ongoing optimization and networking processes, more digitization and more permanent staff are needed to meet the high number of applications.”

“Triple Win” initiative continues to date, the Ministry of Social Affairs’ project “German Language Courses Abroad to Recruit Foreign Nursing Staff as part of Triple Win” has successfully placed 111 nursing professionals with employers in Baden-Württemberg. Together with the Regional Directorate of Baden-Württemberg, the Ministry of Social Affairs has agreed to extend the project until December 31, 2024, to recruit additional nursing professionals for facilities in Baden-Württemberg.

Given the high demand for professionals in the health and care sector, it is essential to exchange views on the most urgent questions at the highest level and discuss solution approaches. Therefore, the round table is planned to continue later this year.

In July 2023, representatives from the Stuttgart Regional Council, the Regional Directorate of the Federal Employment Agency, the Baden-Württemberg Hospital Association, the League of Free Welfare, the State Medical Chamber, the State Nursing Council, and the County and City Association came together at the invitation of the Ministries of Social Affairs and Justice for the first time. They discussed existing challenges, ideas, and initiatives in the field of immigration into health professions and exchanged solution approaches. (BadenWürtemberger.de 24. January 2024)


Innovation Campus Sustainability Launched

The Innovation Campus Sustainability is the fifth innovation campus in the state. At the kickoff event in Freiburg, the first three projects were presented. Initial partners are the University of Freiburg and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

How can the impacts of climate change in cities be managed? How can we achieve a health-promoting and resource-efficient offering in cafeterias and company canteens? And what motivates citizens to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle? The task of the new, fifth innovation campus in Baden-Württemberg is to find effective and immediately applicable answers to such questions – in collaboration with partners from society, economy, science, and politics. For the establishment of the Innovation Campus Sustainability (ICN) anchored in the coalition agreement and the first three projects, the state initially provides one million euros. The launch took place on January 24, 2024, at the University of Freiburg. The second initial partner is the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

Concepts should be transferable to other regions “Our new innovation campus aims to make the Upper Rhine region an internationally visible beacon in sustainability research. For this purpose, the University of Freiburg and KIT are combining their expertise and infrastructure. A network of practice partners accompanies research and transfer – ensuring that insights quickly translate into implementation. Concepts developed and tested in the Innovation Campus Sustainability should later be transferable to other urban regions,” said Minister of Science Petra Olschowski in Freiburg.

The four existing innovation campus models on the future topics of Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Technology, Mobility, and Life Sciences are already advancing research and knowledge transfer in the state. “The new Innovation Campus Sustainability will continue this success story and contribute findings from this highly relevant research area to society – for a livable future in Baden-Württemberg and beyond,” added Olschowski. The goals of the ICN are innovation leaps leading to changes in urban planning, the food system, or the resource shift towards renewable energy. The areas of climate protection, resource conservation, and well-being are interconnected.

Contribution to the sustainable development of society the transdisciplinary research activities of the new innovation campus are intended to contribute to the overall sustainable development of society – taking into account economic aspects, the common good, and social justice. Since 2023, the initial partners University of Freiburg and KIT have been developing a concept for the new innovation campus under the motto “Transformations for Future Urban Regions – Climate Protection, Resource Conservation, and Well-being.”

“The University of Freiburg is eagerly anticipating the realization of the innovation campus at the Upper Rhine, with its thematic focus on sustainability and its transformative and transdisciplinary character. The projects starting now and, in the future, have the potential to shape the transformation towards a sustainable society,” said the Rector of the University of Freiburg, Prof. Dr. Kerstin Krieglstein.

“At KIT, almost all scientific disciplines contribute to sustainability research – because only in their interplay can we tackle challenges like the climate crisis, energy transition, and traffic turnaround. In addition, we promote knowledge, awareness, and personal responsibility for sustainable action among our students through corresponding offerings,” said Prof. Dr. Oliver Kraft on behalf of the President of KIT. “In the Innovation Campus Sustainability, we consolidate our experiences and expertise with science, business, politics, and society to jointly develop solutions that help us secure our natural livelihood.”

Network of initial partners the network of the Innovation Campus Sustainability includes additional partners from science, such as the University Medical Center Freiburg, the Sustainability Performance Center at the University of Freiburg, the Fraunhofer Institutes in Freiburg and Karlsruhe, and the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (Baden-Württemberg Institute for Sustainable Mobility). In addition, prominent companies from the Upper Rhine region, chambers, and associations such as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) Southern Upper Rhine, IHK Karlsruhe, the Chamber of Crafts Freiburg, and the Technology Region Karlsruhe, as well as research and economic development and the field of housing: Bauverein Breisgau eG. The network is completed by the cities of Freiburg and Karlsruhe, as well as civil society actors (including NGOs such as Ernährungsrat Freiburg & Region e.V.).

Initiation projects of the Innovation Campus Sustainability At the kickoff event in Freiburg, the first three projects of the ICN were announced and presented. Researchers and practice partners jointly assessed these projects – they will now undergo a reality test in the Innovation Campus Sustainability.

Researchers in the project “Renature + Urban Green” aim to find out how green spaces and city trees contribute to adapting urban habitats along the Upper Rhine to climate change. This includes identifying suitable tree species and analyzing the ecosystem services of trees. Measures for the preservation of urban green space will be developed in collaboration with the public and urban planning.

Another project focuses on the “Transformation of the Food System” towards sustainability. Researchers explore how communal catering – for example, in cafeterias and company canteens – can be designed in a climate- and resource-friendly, as well as health-promoting way.

In the project “Visions of Sustainability,” a film series on sustainability is organized in collaboration with the Municipal Cinema Freiburg. Researchers and their practice partners want to find out if and how such films can support citizens in implementing a sustainable lifestyle.

Beyond these projects, so-called exploration projects will also be supported.

The Innovation Campus Models the Ministry of Science, Research, and the Arts supports innovation campus models addressing strategically significant research focuses. The thematic fields are of fundamental importance for the structural transformation of Baden-Württemberg and its value creation, reflecting the strategic priorities of the state government.

The now five innovation campus models consolidate the expertise of science (universities, non-university institutions), business, and society. This allows for the exploration of new potentials and the utilization of synergies. Thus, the state government creates internationally visible beacons on topics where Baden-Württemberg is already strong. (BadenWürtemberger.de 24. January 2024)


Low Water Information Center Established

The new Low Water Information Center is now the central point for measurements, trends, and information related to low water. It is another milestone in implementing the state’s water shortage strategy.

Episodes of low water and dry periods are becoming more frequent and lasting longer. For this reason, the Ministry of the Environment has developed a water shortage strategy. A crucial milestone in its implementation is the newly established Low Water Information Center (NIZ) at the State Agency for the Environment Baden-Württemberg (LUBW). Thanks to comprehensive data and forecasts on the online portal, such as water levels and water quality, a quick assessment of the water situation is now possible.

“The newly created Low Water Information Center of the LUBW State Agency for the Environment Baden-Württemberg is now the central point for measurements, trends, and information related to low water,” said Dr. Ulrich Maurer, President of LUBW. The portal of the Low Water Information Center (NIZ) went online on the internet at the beginning of 2024 and is now officially presented. “The online portal is the centerpiece of the information center. Here, regularly updated information and forecasts on water levels and water quality in surface waters, lakes, and groundwater during low water situations can be found.”

Milestone of the State’s Water Shortage Strategy Due to the increased occurrence and longer duration of low water and dry periods in recent years, the Ministry of the Environment, Climate, and Energy Baden-Württemberg has developed a water shortage strategy for the state, indicating areas where action is needed.

“With the launch of the NIZ, another milestone in the implementation of the state’s water shortage strategy has been achieved. Improving data and information is the basis for short- and long-term water management decisions,” said Minister of the Environment Thekla Walker. “This information offering needs to be consistently expanded in the coming years. The goal is for people in the state to prepare for possible water shortage situations in a timely manner.”

Central Information Source for Low Water “Water authorities and municipalities in the state will now receive a quick assessment of water availability. Based on this foundation, they can take immediate measures,” explained Maurer. “Users can adapt to necessary measures early on. The NIZ online portal will be an important information tool for all affected parties, such as industrial enterprises with high water consumption.”

All Data for Assessing Water Situation The online portal compiles all necessary data for assessing the water situation: precipitation, water levels in flowing waters, Lake Constance, and groundwater, as well as information on the replenishment of groundwater and soil moisture. Physical quality parameters of waters, such as water temperature and oxygen content, are also centrally provided and considered in the analyses. With their help, critical situations for the fauna and flora of waters can be detected early on.

The copiously processed data feeds into low-water models, forecasts for water availability are created, and reports on the situation in Baden-Württemberg and individual regions are based on that.

Currently, the NIZ portal assesses the discharge situation for around 100 gauges in Baden-Württemberg and categorizes them into low-water classes. The quality parameters in flowing waters are additionally recorded at 26 measuring stations. The assessment of groundwater levels is done based on around 70 measuring stations.

There are plans to continuously expand and develop the NIZ in the coming months and years.

Long-term Trend Analyses Climate models show that in the coming decades, longer-lasting dry periods are expected more frequently. This is particularly true for the summer half-year. To timely detect such fundamental changes in the water balance, the staff at the NIZ will create and update trend analyses and assessments of low-water events in surface waters and groundwater.

“The pressure on the water resource is increasing. According to calculations by the Climate Change and Consequences for Water Management Cooperation, KLIWA, we must anticipate that, in some regions of Baden-Württemberg, an average of 20 percent less groundwater will be replenished in the future,” explained Maurer. (BadenWürtemberger.de 24. January 2024)