What issues do you deal with in your municipal partnership and which stakeholders are involved on both sides?
Erwin M.: Many topics of our partnership have already been set out in our administrative agreement signed on June 20, 1988: the exchange of administrative staff and students, environmental protection and waste management, as well as the fields of cultural heritage and cultural exchange. In addition to the representatives of the municipalities, there are a number of other stakeholders and institutions that actively participate in the cooperation. On our side, these are in particular the Bung Hatta University and the province of West Sumatra. A number of local NGOs were also involved in specific activities, especially in the environmental sector and waste management, such as Forum Kota Sehat, Forum Peduli Sungai, Forum Daerah Aliran Sungai, Senarai and WALHI (The Indonesia Forum for Living Environment).
Oliver Rösner: On the Hildesheim side, the University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HAWK) should be mentioned, whose student exchange with Bung Hatta University in the 1980s marked the beginning of the relations between Padang and Hildesheim. The two universities are still in close exchange. In addition, through the 2018 administrative exchange supported by the Service Agency Communities in One World (SKEW), various administrative topics of the two cities moved onto the agenda. Some good contacts were established between the fire departments of the two cities. However, both sides saw the greatest need in tackling the topic of environmental protection. Here, the special purpose association for waste management, the composting plant and Bioenergy Center GmbH and the municipal drainage department are still involved in the project. In addition, the Hildesheim Mission for the Blind works with schools for the blind in Indonesia and frequently supports us with translation services.
What are your common future topics?
Erwin M.: The topic of waste management with reference to climate change will continue to be a central part of our partnership work in the future. We are also planning to extend the cooperation to the field of employment. The city of Padang has a large workforce with medium qualifications such as nurses, technicians in the automotive, electrical and computer industries.
What makes for successful partnership work and how do both communities benefit?
Oliver Rösner: Reliable contacts are key. From our experience, it is important to have trusting contacts inside and outside the administration. Another highly relevant factor for successful partnership work is equitable exchange. Both parties must be well aware of the important decisions that need to be made. The partners must also be willing to share existing problems. We know this from our personal lives: When you have guests at home, you don't want to show them your messy attic, but rather your beautiful living room. Open sharing of experiences thus requires a lot of trust, which has to be built up over the years. Furthermore, we should always rethink our own actions and we can learn a lot from our partners. Our business as usual is being questioned and we ask ourselves whether certain problems could not be solved in a different and better way.
Erwin M.: Both sides benefit from this partnership through the exchange of knowledge, experience and perspectives in many different ways. I am particularly proud of the activities in the field of education. As partners, we have achieved a great deal through exchange programs for students and teachers, joint research, symposia and scholarship programs. Furthermore, all activities on the topic of waste management have been an enriching learning process for everyone involved.