Three weeks ago I had the chance to attend the biannual conference of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) in Cape Town. It brought together about 2000 people from around the world and I was looking forward to it. Thanks to my colleague Laura I could present Fairnopoly at the meeting of the ICA Youth Network on the first day. This was big luck, since through this I met a bunch of great people right from the beginning.
I came there as an absolute newbie. I knew nobody before and had my knowledge about the ICA mainly from browsing through their website and a few of their publications. My impressions were overall positive, though I still have some critical questions:
One and a half years ago I promised to write about my latest project. It kept me busy and only now I found the right moment. The project is simple: Creating the world’s largest multinational corporation – owned by the world’s citizens and democratically controlled by the world’s citizens.
Now this may sound extremely naïve, if not just stupid. At least I have been realistic enough to start with a smaller, local part project: Setting up an online marketplace in Germany. Fortunately I was able to find a team of very capable collaborators and together we set up a German co-operative, developed the platform and found by now over a thousand members who joined us in this venture.
One big reason why I was so eager to attend the International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in Brasilia (see last post), was to see how young people can collectively address corruption at global level. My afterthoughts on this are mixed.
Young corruption fighters at the Global Youth Against Corruption forum in Brasilia
On the one hand, it was good to see that there is much openness from Transparency International etc. to support young peoples involvement. On the other hand, I think that getting the established institutions to integrate and support young people is not enough.
The last six days I spent in the strange but interesting city of Brasilia, attending the 15th International Anti-Corruption Conference. I had been looking forward to it and it was better than expected.
Over 1900 corruption fighters from all around the world
What I liked most was how much space was given to the topic of illicit financial flows. It made clear that corruption is a truly global problem – a global systemic problem that is as much rooted in the rich, western countries, as in the so called “developing” countries. No more North-South divide, we all are concerned.
It’s been a while since I wrote last time. Partly this was due to the new project I jumped into (more on this soon in another post). Partly to the rather empty state of mind I am in here in Berlin. This is not to blame the city or anything else, just an observation. In any case I decided to try writing in a more mindstream style.
Last Thursday I participated in an International Conference on Youth Volunteering in Moscow, Russia. There were only a few international participants and I was happy to be one of them. With most of the participants coming from different provinces of Russia it was good to see that there are engaged young people even in remote places. I was particularly happy about the interest in and positive feedback on the FAIR Future Network.
Even though I was there only for four days, Moscow left a strong impression on me.
“World Summit” sounds quite spectacular and formal, and so it was a nice surprise that we had difficulties to find the venue on the beautiful campus of Barranquilla’s Universidad del Norte. It was a long way to get there from Berlin, passing through Frankfurt, Dallas, Miami and Bogota, and I was hoping to find a place for constructive discussions and meaningful new connections, not a huge show-off event.
Flying over Greenland
But in spite of the encouraging start, the first hours put me into disappointment and nearly anger.
At the moment I’m having the great luck of being in Colombia, where Joseph and I presented our let’s fight corruption mantra at the “World Summit on Youth Volunteering”. The summit was sufficiently insightful to justify the 3 days flight journey to get here, but more on this later. Now I just want to write about a small incident that happened to me yesterday night:
Joseph in Cartagena
At around 9 pm I took a bus from beautiful Cartagena to Santa Marta, 3-4 hours away. I immediately fell asleep. It must have been after midnight when the bus driver woke me up and told me that I should drop off for Santa Marta. Outside it was dark, the bus was parked at a junction, and the only thing I could see was one taxi next to the bus. I also realised that I – the only gringo – was the only person to get off.
Last week I participated in a training course on media manipulation at the shores of lake Ohrid in beautiful Macedonia. It was an interesting inter-cultural experiment with young members of volunteer organisations from Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Germany. I think we all did a pretty good job fulfilling our national stereotypes when it came to patriotism.
A little travel story in between:
In mid July I came to Sipi Falls in hope for another couple of quite days to think and write in a beautiful place. Surely I found a beautiful place, but the thought of climbing Mount Elgon, or Mountain Elgon, as many locals call it respectfully, wouldn’t stop circulating in my mind.
The 100m water fall in Sipi
When I heard that it was possible to climb the peak from the village of Budariri and walk back to Sipi in three days, I decided to go.