Peru: The Power of Citizens
Engaged and mobilised citizens can change the world we live in: four examples from Peru.
Development Minister Müller talks with citizens in Freising and Fredersdorf-Vogelsdorf as part of the German government's dialogue series.
“Living well in Germany – our priorities in the age of global responsibility.” Federal Development Minister Dr. Gerd Müller issued an invitation to citizens in Bavarian Freising, and Fredersdorf-Vogelsdorf in Brandenburg to come together and discuss this issue on this past Monday. The event was part of the “Living Well in Germany“ dialogue series sponsored by the German government designed to kick off a public discourse about what constitutes quality of life.
At both events, Minister Müller clearly pointed out that people here in Germany can contribute a great deal to improving quality of life in developing countries.
“We cannot continue to base our prosperity on the suffering of others,” Minister Müller said in Fredersdorf, citing seamstresses in Bangladesh and coffee pickers in Guatemala as examples. “If people cannot earn enough to feed their families and send their children to school, we need to make changes.”
Müller also citied the Textile Partnership he initiated as an example as one approach towards achieving fair working conditions in the textile industry. To date the partnership has attracted over 140 companies, associations and initiatives as members.
“We can only continue to live well if others can live well too,“ Minister Müller said, before transitioning to the second topic of discussion at the dialogue event: managing the global refugee crisis. Minister Müller enumerated a list of the ways German development policy is creating new perspectives for people living in crisis and extreme poverty. “It is our responsibility to invest even more in countries in crisis to counteract the drivers of flight,” said Müller. He was pleased, he added, to see how many people in Germany were working to promote good relationships with refugees.
After the Minister's opening remarks, the floor was opened to the audience. Participants in both Freising and Fredersdorf tool the opportunity to talk with the minister about “conscious living – sustainable consumption” and “handling the global refugee crisis” and formulate their suggestions. On the issue of consumption, one audience member demanded that Germany focus on a ethics of frugality, which could be promoted through awareness raising and political action.
Regarding how to handle the ongoing wave of refugees, many suggested improving living conditions for people in their homelands where aid would be more effective. “Five million euros can do a lot more there than in Germany,“ noted one participant in Fredersdorf. A central tenet of the discussion was how refugees should be integrated in Germany. Audience members pointed to the need for a system to welcome refugees to Germany and increased financial support for local communities who want to take them in. One audience member in Freising summed up the general tenor of the discussion: “Germany is an immigration country!“
Minister Müller's overall assessment was that there was a lot of overlap between the events in Freising and Fredersdorf: “Overall there is widespread agreement on the fundamental things.”
Photo: GIZ/ Photothek.