Two young delegates to Efus’ 2017 international conference tell about their experience and how they presented the Mannheim Declaration for Diversity

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Mannheim, Germany, July 2018
The municipal magazine of Mannheim (DE) recently published an interview with two youngsters from the city who were among a few dozen young Europeans invited to Efus’ 2017 “Security, Democracy and Cities” international conference in Barcelona, where they tell their experience and how they presented the Mannheim Declaration for Diversity to the conference delegates.

Thanks to co-funding from the European Commission through the ERASMUS+ Youth in Action Programme, Efus had invited 31 young people from Dutch, French, German, and Italian cities (Augsburg, Bagneux, Bordeaux, Brescia, Düsseldorf, Essen, Mannheim, Marseille, Reggio Emilia, Rotterdam, Sarcelles, and Stuttgart) to take part in the November 2017 conference.

In the Mannheim online city magazine, Magma, Ann-Sophie Hafner and Florian Spiegelhalter, both trainees at the City Council, explain that the conference made them “aware of the importance of preventing violence” and how they were “impressed by the European diversity.” Here are excerpts from this interview :

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> You presented the Mannheim Declaration in Barcelona. How did that happen?

Florian Spiegelhalter: Cities attending the conference were invited to present their local projects for crime prevention and social cohesion. I volunteered to present the Mannheim Declaration for Diversity, which promotes the respectful coexistence between different cultures and aims at countering discrimination. It is an issue that I am very interested in, and I was quite excited to present the Declaration to the conference delegates, and in English! Efus’ Manifesto includes the point that local authorities have a duty to prevent discriminatory violence, which echoes Mannheim’s policy in this respect.

> You attended many events at the conference. Which ones did you find particularly interesting?

Ann-Sophie Hafner: I was particularly interested in the workshop on the prevention of violence against women, which focused on what local authorities can do in this respect. I was shocked to learn that more crimes against women are committed at home and at work, as opposed to in the street. It is therefore important for women to show strength and not to be afraid. I learned that there are different kinds of violence – physical, mental, sexual and economic – and that they have to be addressed separately in order to effectively prevent and counter them.

> What did you learn in Barcelona?

Florian Spiegelhalter: Before attending the conference, I was not very aware of urban security issues. But there, I discovered the importance of carrying out projects at the local level to prevent violence. Another aspect that really impressed me was the European diversity, all the different languages and cultures. But at the same time, I realised how much we all have in common. When we shared our opinions on how discrimination can be prevented, we all had similar ideas: We agreed that it is important to promote dialogue between different social groups.

Ann-Sophie Hafner: I was most impressed by the feeling of unity during the conference. We searched solutions together, beyond borders. I realised the importance of cooperation because we are stronger together. It was important for the city of Mannheim to take part and to keep doing in the future, because it is a unique way to benefit from the experience of other cities and countries.

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