Final Conference, 22/23 February, 2013 in Hannover

Drawing the balance and thinking further

On the 22nd and 23rd of February 2013, numerous international representatives of the EU project from Hanover, its twin towns, and partner organisations followed the invitation of the Agenda 21 Office under the management of Silvia Hesse and the Cultural Office of the City of Hanover . Two days of intense exchange, enriching ideas for the future, and friendly meetings have been the result.

On Tuesday, the 19th of February 2013, the project representatives from Hanover’s twin towns Poznan in Poland and Blantyre in Malawi arrived. Silvia Hesse and the guests from Malawi visited the school IGS List where they had a meeting with the school’s headmaster Oswald Nachtwey. After a short lunch break they also visited several classes and met students.


On Wednesday, the 20th of February 2013, some of the representatives from Poznan and Blantyre as well as some employees from the Agenda 21 Office in Hanover visited the Fair Trade Importer “El Puente”. The head of the company organised a guidance for the visitors and described what is important about Fair Trade products. At the end of the guidance there was also some time to drink Fair Trade coffee and to start a discussion involving the guests of Hanover’s twin towns and the head of “El Puente”. After a lunch break and having returned to Hanover, followed by an internal plan-meeting.


On Thursday, the 21st of Februray 2013, the now arrived guests from Miskolc, Hungary and Litomerice, Czech Republic, joined the second internal plan-meeting in the conference room of the City Hotel Hanover together with the guests from Poznan and Blantyre as well as Bruce Crowther from Garstang and head of the FIG Tree Fair Trade Visitors Centre. In addition, the facilitators of the first day of the Final Conference Felix Kostrzewa and Andrea Steckert from the “Eduard Pestel Institut für Systemforschung e.V.”, as well as Andrea Philipp from aiforia – Agency for Sustainability, and from Hanover Janika Millan (Cultural Office), Silvia Hesse and Marion Köther (both from the Agenda 21 Office) attended the meeting. They discussed the schedule and especially the methods they planned to use concerning the first day of the Final Conference, the 22nd of February.

The meeting was followed by a game called “Geocaching”, realising the part of the City Games that are included in the title of the project. The participants of the game split up into groups of three to five persons and had to run a route with several riddles included. It can be compared to a treasure hunt, but with the difference that the participants follow GPS- coordinates.

At the evening, there was another meeting at a conference room in the New Town Hall to again discuss the following procedure.

At 7 p.m., about fifty guests of the conference met in an official come together at the Backöfle, a restaurant in the Carlenberger Neustadt, a district of Hanover. After Hans Mönninghoff, Director of Economic and Environmental Services and Deputy Chief Executive of the City of Hannover, had welcomed the guests of the Final Conference, they had an evening dinnner and played a Tablequiz about Fair Trade and the Millenium Development Goals. Background live music accompanied the dinner.


On Friday, the 22nd of February 2013, the first day of the Final Conference had arrived. It mainly was about the exchange of results and experiences of the project partners that had worked together for two years on the “Aware & Fair”- EU project.

After the registration of the participants, the official beginning of the conference was at 10 a.m. At first, Silvia Hesse, head of the Agenda 21 Office and initiator of the project, and Marlis Drevermann, Arts and Education Directorate of the City of Hanover, welcomed the estimated 70 guests.

Then the project coordinators from Miskolc (János Csizmadia), Poznan (Maja Niezborala), Litomĕřice (Marcela Trejbalová), and Blantyre (Sylvester Mitini-Nkhoma), as well as representatives of the German Fair Trade Organisation (Julia Holl) and Polish Fair Trade Association (Tadeusz Makulski) talked about the highlights of the project and the different activities with which they could advance Fair Trade and raise the awareness for it in their own countries.

Priority had for example the communication with teachers, pupils, and students, the presence on local, public events, festivals, and cultural events, and the collaboration with local traders, as well as the appreciated exchange with international partners, just as schoolings and exhibitions. Creative ideas like fashion shows, Fair Trade breakfasts, Fair Trade competitions, emotional video clips (for instance the film “Greetings from Malawi”, showed by Tadeusz Makulski), or the Milennium Development Goal Walls developed in Hanover have given the impulse for more publicity in the different cities.


From the vision to success

At 10.30 a.m. and under the title “Global challenges demand for (municipal) partnerships, alliances, and networks”, various experts enriched the topic with additional aspects. Bruce Crowther, founder of the Fair Trade Town movement (2000), for example stated that today 1.235 Fair Trade towns are existing in 24 countries, but that the criteria of a Fair Trade town in Africa are different than those here in Europe. He thinks that there should always be a Fair Trade team locally available that actively campaigns for awareness-raising for Fair Trade. He also emphasized that “the campaigns run WITH the African cities, not FOR the African cities.”

Thomas Brose, Managing Director of the Climate Alliance-Alianza del Clima e.V., and Kurt-Michael Baudach from the “Servicestelle Kommunen in der Einen Welt” (SKEW)

ENGAGEMENT GLOBAL gGmbH connected Fair Trade globally to climate protection. They pointed out that it is important to work locally for the global protection of the earth and that especially the local authorities play an important –and in times of limited budgets a different- role.

After the introduction of the facilitators Andrea Steckert and Felix Kostrzewa from the “Eduard Pestel Institut für Systemforschung e.V.” and the presentation of the schedule there was a short break with the request for the participants of the conference to think about questions that they might have.


Deepening aspects of the specific local work

A timeline, on which the project coordinators documented their personal highlights (the milestones) of the “Aware & Fair” project, made clear how much has happened for Fair Trade in the involved cities in the time from March 2011 until now. The project partners also exchanged on the transferability of methodology and elements.

Relaxed by a touching school theater play of pupils from the Marthin-Luther-King special school under the management of Fettah Diouri and a terrific bio-lunch buffet, the day was rich of results and variety.

The program was continued after the lunch break In several discussions and the reflection on “Aware & Fair” hot topics it became clear how important, regardless of whether the field of business, culture, education, or collaboration with the administration, the growing friendship between the responsible persons is. Essential is also the unduring passion and creativity of the individual participants. In the different discussions emerged various topics for the future, for example “How can we build up a better quality control for Fair Trade products?”, “How can we find a way to train even more teachers and pupils?”,  “How can we connect producers and consumers even better?”, or “How fair is Fair Trade and what more can we do?”

Various rudiments of the individual participants stimulated the following Fishbowl discussion, whereas Blantyre, Hanover’s twin town, played the special role of being a producer of Fair Trade products AND a consumer of them. It became obvious that EVERYONE has learned from each other in the EU project and that EVERYONE has motivated and with creative ideas advanced each other. In the Fishbowl discussion questions like “How far closer have we got to our goals?” or “Where are options for future activities?” were discussed.

After that the appreciation of the project followed whereas the participants of the conference also discussed the question “What treasures have we found on our way?”

The first day ended after a little preview on new ideas, networks, and prospects for the future. In addition, the question “ What is my actual role for the future?” was realized in the Community Council Method. Different possible opinions were shown in eight different places in the room. Each place, which was in one of the eight cardinal directions, represented a certain attitude. Then, the participants took a position in the room and therefore showed their personal opinion and answer to the question “What is my actual role for the future?”

After the closing of the first day of the Final Conference, many guests attended dinner together at 7 p.m. at the Gartensaal in the New Town Hall Hanover.


“The World of Tomorrow”

On Saturday, the 23rd of February, the conference took place in the Ballhof State Theater Hanover. Ulli Meinholz and Sita Conrad from the “Trommelschule ILU” musically opened the second part of the Final Conference, accompanied by photographs of the previous day. Andrea Steckert from the “Pestel Institute Hanover für Systemforschung e.V.” was once again the facilitator and at first presented her co-facilitator for this day, Hans Seelhorst, also from the “Pestel Institute Hanover”. The day’s topic was “The World of Tomorrow”.

For three years now, Silvia Hesse has worked closely together with Bärbel Jogschies, drama teacher at the “Junges Schauspiel Hannover”. Bärbel Jogschies pointed out the “The World of Tomorrow” festival in summer where youths from all over the world will develop their visions for a future world and will create ideas in which way they can change the world. The drama teacher emphasized the importance of “awareness of fairness” and “putting your heart into it” for a sustainable lifestyle.

Background issues of the Post-2015 Development Agenda were discussed. Annika Wurz from the Proterra Project Coordination e.V. showed in her short introductory speech different challenges for the further development of the MDGs and the Millennium Consumption Goals (MCGs). She asked: “How do you handle the handicaps that have occurred in the meantime, for example the not considered question of human rights and safety?”, “Is it enough to define the targets?” and  “Are not descriptions of directions more useful?” Annika Wurz concluded that a solution cannot be found in targets but rather in normative changes.


“Buen Vivir”

Especially rewarding was the short presentation of the Ecuadorian Daniela Célleri, doctorate in the “Kompetenznetz Lateinamerika – Ethnicity, Citizenship” (belonging to the G.W. Leibniz University Hanover). She vividly demonstrated how important it is to first throw off the chains and then think about the way you want to live. Daniela Célleri also attended the constituent assembly in Ecuador. Ecuador is the first country worldwide that established the concept of “Buen Vivir” (Good life) in the constitution. The doctorate demanded to step back and to start all over again, considering the question of the way you want to live. This is the only way to regard humans and nature as a unit and to heal the economic blindness.

Kass Kasadi from the “Hannöversche Aids-Hilfe” and Nelson Mataka, Programme Manager of the Blantyre Agriculture Development Division, gave further inputs.

At 11.45 a.m. there was a short break with music by Ulli Meinholz and a photo slideshow, as well as World Café reflections.


“Continuing a sustainable lifestyle”

In the final (Fishbowl) discussion, the aspect of a continuing, sustainable lifestyle was well appreciated. The participants demanded the acceptance of different perspectives, regional economic cycles, more humanity and human curiosity, the realisation that not one solution is the right and appropriate one for everybody, the better integration of migrants locally, and much more.

It has become clear that the project will continue even after its official ending and that the already acquired cooperations will become very valuable for the future work. It is sure that all participants will continue to work as usual in a dedicated and creative way to communicate the necessity of a raising awareness of Fair Trade and furthermore of a sustainable lifestyle.

At the end, partners from different countries insisted on presenting Silvia Hesse and her team with small, personal, and playful gifts as an appreciation of the project coordination, the visions, and the friendship.

At 1 p.m., once again music by Ulli Meinholz and a photo slideshow accompanied the farewell and ended the second day of the Final Conference of the EU project “Aware & Fair”.