Presentations of Professor Holger Magel as FIG Vice President
Speech by Prof. Dr. Holger Magel on 7 June 2000, Rural 21, original
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Conference is drawing to a close now with a "summary and presentation of the Potsdam declaration" being on the agenda. I will just briefly try to summarize the highlights again. Don't be afraid, I am not going to repeat the statements made by the workshop chairmen. There has been a great deal of discussion on that outside in the corridors. I will simply try to give you my personal impressions as a participant in this excellent congress. May I therefore congratulate you first of all, Professor Schlagheck, as the representative of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture. I am also congratulating you as Vice-President of the International Federation of Surveyors. This Federation is in contact with several United Nations agencies and addresses many issues discussed at this Congress. Also from this perspective I would like to pay my compliments to you. I am doing this also as President of the Academy on Rural Areas, fully aware of the backing by many colleagues here in the region. The President of the Academy for Rural Areas of Lower Saxony is also present here today, for example. This is the clientele you also require and about whom there was so much talk in the implementation of your policy, Mr. Schlagheck. And finally I should also like to extend my thanks as a representative of science and research.
I am very pleased with the presence of so many university professors here. I sometimes find it hard to understand why practitioners are always so stubborn and why they have a hard time with theory and science. They all know that a sound theory is the key to practice tomorrow. Nobody knows this better than you yourself, Prof. Schlagheck, as you cross this bridge everyday.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we experienced many exciting moments and splendid highlights. If I try to bring out a few, I would not please the others too much, I guess. Just think back to the first day, in the afternoon, when imbued with this exciting and international atmosphere we left the European stage and Minister Morales guided us into a completely different world. Or think back to this morning when Mayor Gira from Beckerich casually mentioned that his village makes a contribution to the partnership with the Third World, a statement he later qualified to some extent. This evoked the atmosphere again, the main issue of this Congress that we want to talk at a truly global level here and strive for solutions together.
We had some excellent workshops. I took the liberty of switching from
one to the other, I therefore participated in all five workshops and I
must say this was a highly stimulating affair and you had an opportunity
to judge the practical examples in the municipalities first hand this
First, a very important realization for many of my German colleagues:
We are not alone in this world. You sometimes tend to get this impression
in your everyday work and there are certainly some bosses here and there
saying:" this person must have plenty of time if he can attend such a
Congress. What's the use for our everyday work?
Apart from these many highlights we even had a formula presented to us
today, this bit is for brain workers needing formulas for something to
become serious and tangible. I also say this with a view to my own
department as I occasionally also espouse soft aspects; if there are no
formulas in dissertations and doctoral theses, then they can be
"nothing good". Now Mr. Zimmermann presented us a nice formula
from the Philippines.
We recorded a further enormous success in a different respect if I may
judge this from my own perspective requesting you to acknowledge what is
not self-evident: two UN authorities were represented here, two top-level
representatives of FAO and UNCHS from Nairobi. Several federal ministries
were represented here and may I point out our Federal President, our head
of state, in particular. The EU Commission and World Bank were represented
here. This was indeed a tribute to our Congress and I would like to thank
these representatives again in particular, we gained a lot from their
presence! But maybe they also picked up a little of what we have to offer.
And I am quite confident, Mr. Hundsalz, Mr. Feder, what you heard from
these superb representatives of the rural communities will inform your
Some overriding messages were also driven home to us all.
Add to this the "gentle" criticism made by the German President regarding the European agricultural policy, which subsidizes exports. Mr. Fischler replied to this supremely well. But I find it noteworthy that a German President says this at such a congress. He even added that we should not only apply minimum environmental standards. I hope that he did not only say this because our opening day on Monday coincided with the day of the environment.
Ladies and Gentlemen, maybe you occasionally wonder: "Why are
we in Potsdam?" You could say: "Well, of course, we are here
in a new Land where the problems of restructuring and development can be
seen directly on the spot." And this was certainly remarkable for our
guests from the Central and Eastern European countries, also for us from
the West, that we learn to understand again and again why this process is
so difficult and why we must continue to make transfer payments in the
Lenné, a great man and exponent of this land embellishment and shaper
of these landscapes never hoped to achieve anything else in his aims and
philosophy than what we are constantly talking about today. He sought the
trinity, the entirety of horticulture, architecture and agriculture, in
today's words: the "interrelations between ecology, social affairs
and economy". If we were to phrase this today, we would arrive at the
sustainability principle. Land embellishment wanted to foster work and
agriculture, whilst making allowances for landscapes, aestheticism and
This is an age-old concern of human sentiment, it is not by chance that we heard the Netzeband representative say some words about landscape aesthetics and the idea to combine the pleasant with the useful this morning. This should be the timeless motto without being dismissed as a visionary right away: to combine the pleasant with the useful. It stands for what the concern over sustainability represents today. This is why we are in Potsdam, Ladies and Gentlemen! I can only congratulate this city for having provided this magnificent ambience.
This brings me to the seven keywords or topics in my summary:
We learnt that we are unfortunately still far away from sustainable action. On the contrary, we must fear a step backwards, at least at a global level. I would like to convey some of the zest and enthusiasm earlier mentioned by Federal President Rau to our guests from abroad: in Germany, in Europe, the sustainability debate is in full swing and taken seriously. We believe in the precept of sustainability and try to make our contribution, with every country setting its own priorities, of course. "Global sustainability, says Rau, "only works if justice prevails." if justice prevails and if we make our contribution. Fischler pledged to withdraw export promotion if others do it too.
Sustainability also contains an ethical aspect which always comes off badly in the trinity of the economic, ecological and socio-cultural aspects. What counts is also a spiritual and emotional sustainability! How can we achieve sustainability if our set of values is not right? Therefore: ethics is a crucial point.
Also think of the following aspect if you contemplate the issue of sustainability: we heard of a Chinese example today where with great commitment nature was regained so to speak and the pleasant combined with the useful. In China and elsewhere devastation is progressing. Yesterday, a newspaper reported that one fifth of China's territory is already desertified today. You see that this is a major issue and despite that we still lack technologies for resource conservation. We heard that we should actually be able to copy our success in achieving productivity gains in industry, for example, in this field, too. We were so successful there that we are virtually running out of work. Now we would have to make headway and find new work in the growth sectors of resource conservation, resource management and land use.
A point preoccupying us, especially the practitioners again and again: sustainable action is integral and cross-sectoral per se. Such an integral, cross-sectoral action is hard to implement in administrative terms. It goes beyond the scope of normal sectoral departmental thinking. And it is therefore still difficult to act sustainably and quite a challenge. And this is not just meant as a warning sign to all other countries, to eastern Europe or to the countries of the so-called Third World, but to our own country. That's where we still get stuck.
Today, the Mayoress Petra Köpping coined the best term for sustainability (we already know that of Brundtland etc. by heart): sustainability means for her and the inhabitants of her village "give back more than you have consumed". If you take this quotation home with you, you will have benefited enormously from this Congress, you will have a vision at any rate.
2nd major keyword: Property
Mr. Zimmermann professionally reported what was discussed in his workshop, but what we also already heard in the speech by Minister Funke: issues of land management, land use, land reform, access to land are extremely important at a global level, to be precise, and to clarify them is a necessary prerequisite for economic development - so says the 1999 UN-FIG Declaration of Bathurst, also signed by the World Bank, Mr. Feder, you were there personally. Rural development does not succeed without intensive discussions on this issue. Related to this are, of course, all the issues we also addressed. Are there administrations specifically for this purpose? In Germany we even have special administrative agencies for this purpose because property is a particularly sensitive good for which you should have neutral institutions at disposal, if possible. I am saying this deliberately to our friends from abroad that we should try to maintain real neutrality.
We also addressed in some detail the issues of Public Private Partnership (PPP) and of university education in these fields. We still have some deficits in this area in Germany, I am saying this emphatically, in Austria and elsewhere too. There is still too little training in this field in many European countries. This is why the English, Americans and Australians rule the market. The topic PPP is, of course, also an issue concerning civil society. How seriously does the civil society treat the division of responsibility and its delegation to citizens and the market?
3 rd issue: structural measures
We emphasized this particularly when planning the Congress: we are doing to deal with this part in European terms because it is highly topical. Our friends from abroad and especially from Africa and Asia may have thought when they heard the reports and complaints that they wouldn't mind having this kind of problems! This is what they are talking about...." I can even understand their point of view. But: we live here and have these problems. This is why we have to deal with them. But I have to concede that some of this might be hard to understand from a non-European perspective.
So what remains as the key statement? Laying greater stress on investment measures and on village renewal which seems to be very promising, this is particularly pleasing for me as a representative of this discipline. This became very clear again today so that I would like to impart it as a message to other countries all over the world: village renewal is a paradigm of a combination of democratic civil involvement, of interdisciplinary and integral cooperation with government organizations and NGOs as well as local policy in the sense of a civil society. Here, too, we heard: if there is money and there must be money, we are not that starry-eyed - then in the right order, please. First the fascinating idea or catching vision and then the money. If we invest money in people enjoying life and in the future, every state and every ministry can be happy.
4th issue: Civil society
This sounds so English or American, but we will have to deal with this issue here in Germany, here in Central Europe to a far greater extent. This is a topic cutting across all parties, be it Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Gerhard Schröder from the social democrat side with their third way or the conservatives with their pro-active civil society or the greens or liberals etc. This is set to become an issue for our society (must). We would be well advised to integrate our structural measures, our rural development policy in this movement, illustrating that our ideas and concepts are the ideal embodiment, the ideal implementation of this new movement especially. I don't see any problems in presenting this. With rural development we ideally meet the principles of participation, civil involvement and civil responsibility.
Access to land and resources, property and safe ownership, observance of social capital, these are the major new issues at stake worldwide, plus the activation of the honorary office. Rural development wonderfully complies with these aspects all over the globe.
5th keyword: Education is the key factor
This is no surprise to us anymore, but we must point it out again and again. What matters is vocational training and further training, but also the empowerment of citizens for honorary commitment. The EU calls this capacity building, those wanting to get involved, must be empowered in the first place so that they can get involved. There are quite a few who dread public speeches or disputes, who cannot understand planning procedures right away because of their great complexity. We must therefore train and encourage these citizens. And we heard today that there is already much underway in rural communities in this respect. This capacity- building includes besides technical equipment public awareness first of all, of course. And it also encompasses the conveying of values as a key point. Those wanting to cooperate must first agree on values. Those intending to get married should first be clear about values and as much common ground as possible or else the marriage won't work. This is an age-old experience.
6th issue: We need engines, locomotives, key players etc.
There are various nice expressions for this. This is also an important experience for all those engaged in development projects. Plenty of money, ideas and administrative experts are only of little use. We need people on the spot acting as engines, never grow weary, go on and on and who are not aiming at short-term success above all.
Village renewal starts in the mind and must be driven and moved by the heart. This emotional part of participation is a key factor in our experience in the European area. We heard a very satisfying solution for fearful politicians: do not be afraid of participation! Participation provides satisfaction and ultimately reduces conflicts - even if there are a few clashes from time to time - ensures identification and attachment to the native soil we simply cannot do without.
7th keyword: Methodology of planning
The issue "How should our planning unfold - top down or bottom up?
was a key aspect today.
But let me stress this again: both are necessary. I myself had some painful experience in Croatia, for example. We have guests from Croatia among us. We have not been very successful in Croatia so far because we miss the accompanying firm hand and backing from the administration. The administration obviously had some difficulty in accepting the type of direct participation we and the rural communities opted for and desired. We can gather from this that rural development always has an impact on politics and on sociopolitics, of course. We cannot act as in a political vacuum, we must realize this. If we were to start modern village development in China, the village inhabitants would grasp very soon that this calls for their involvement. And the old mechanisms that nobody lifts a finger or tongue unless the mayor has acted or said something first are all in the past. You are thus very close to the interface with politics, all our colleagues from development cooperation know this.... There is nothing better really than believing in people and their own strengths and development potential.
This brings me to our final statement already you all have available.
We can have some nice discussions about the following: here a comma is missing, there an important reference, we could do this or that different, there is a topic missing maybe and, and, and...
We are all aware of this. Anybody knows this who summarizes things in a synopsis and is then spoilt for choice to find a common denominator. I saw this only a moment ago: there has been a lot of mumbling in the break as a response to the workshop reports saying for example, that the workshop chairman failed to render all facets precisely or did not mention some important aspects addressed in the working group etc.
I thank you on behalf of BML and also personally for your key proposals and also for your other responses. There has been isolated criticism, but also a lot of praise. You can imagine that it is not easy to take everything into account in so short a time and without jeopardizing the framework. We tried to include those things we trusted would form a common platform because it has to be acceptable internationally. Have we addressed too many problems instead of opportunities? The critic Sixtus Lanner just gave an answer to this: we responded, also to the issue of fisheries by the way. This congress and this final statement do not specifically deal with the problems facing deep-sea fishing.
Some other aspects were mentioned to us, e.g. the aspect of SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) and, and, and. I would like to note that there are many, many other individual aspects.
But I checked everything through again especially from the angle of summarizing and understanding everything on a broader scale. And from that stance I have no problem, for example, with classifying SMEs under the economic locational factor. Otherwise I could demand that local supply must also be specifically mentioned and, and, and. There are so many individual aspects which were and cannot be the specific concern or substance of this declaration.
The main concern of this Potsdam Declaration rural 21 is, and this is our joint concern uniting politics and society, in view of the presence of a German president and so many international experts, to communicate that we are advocates of rural areas that we want to fight for rural areas all over the globe and we are signaling to society where the problems lie and where the opportunities.
If you would just pick up this final declaration - I won't read it to
you, of course, this would be impossible - then I would just briefly go
through it with you again.
We would have to send them out into the world more. Then they would realize how important agriculture is. Sixtus Lanner showed us today that there is another important aspect to agriculture, i.e. the indispensable "cultural and ecological benefits" for society.
If we carry on reading the declaration we find a common and
incontestable statement formulated to this effect: despite of the
differences in starting conditions " rural areas fulfill equally
vital functions for developing and developed countries".
The emerging civil society requires space for involvement and
assumption of responsibility for the shaping of local policies. I find
this very enriching myself to hear that Director-General Diouf regards
this statement as universally valid for the whole world. This was quite
I witnessed how the FIG issued a declaration with the United Nations in Bathurst - this declaration is on everyone's lips. This is precisely why our Potsdam Declaration rural21 carries that much weight.
What do we stress: combating poverty and food insecurity, promoting
employment in rural areas and not just merely jobs in agriculture. The
Declaration states emphatically: as well as in other economic areas".
Keyword: establishing and maintaining an efficient, ecologically
Or the observance of a multifunctional role of agriculture and forestry
and its contribution to a sustainable development prospect - agriculture
also in the sense of sustainable action.
Rural areas require a specific policy for their conservation and further development.
My request to you is to really support this "final
apotheosis" with all your heart and that we agree in championing this
declaration and sending it out into the world and taking pride in saying,
whether in Zagreb, Santiago or Manila or elsewhere: this is the result we
achieved in Potsdam.
Allow me a brief concluding remark, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Is the bridging between town and country a new insight? If we just return to land embellishment again whose sustainable attributes we still admire today in Potsdam. A spearhead of land embellishment from Bavaria, Gustav Vorherr, said in 1807:"farmers and urban dwellers may gain the deep insight and understanding that they cannot exist without each other." Town and country depend on each other! I believe that this is a wonderful message of our international congress rural21, also as a bridging to the international congress urban21 in three weeks that we as champions of urban areas know and signalize that we need vibrant cities, but that the cities also should know that they have no future without vibrant rural areas.
I should like to wind up by expressing my warmest thanks again to my efficient team from the university and especially to Mr. Rupert Linder. Special thanks also go to you, Professor Schlagheck, as the BML representative for allowing us to organize and have a share in shaping this excellent congress. I would also like to thank the BML team, Mr. Lenk and Mr. Schulz, for your support and cooperation.
Univ. Prof. Dr-Ing. Holger Magel