The conference in the council hall of Mannheim did not only host national experts but also included experts from its sister cities who travelled to Mannheim from Haifa (Israel), Berlin Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf (Germany – triangular partnership with Riesa, Germany), Czernowitz (Ukraine), Klaipéda (Lithuania), Kilis, Bydgoszcz (Poland), Windsor (Canada), Hebron (Jordan), Zhenjiang (China) and Qingdao (China) to take part in the mission statement. The event with around 70 participants offered a platform to examine the current mission statement ‘Mannheim 2030’, exchange in different expert groups and give recommendations for the city of Mannheim based on the results.
The conference was inaugurated by the first mayor of the city of Mannheim, Dr. Peter Kurz, as part of an evening reception. Additional words of welcome were delivered by Caroline Kern (Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development), Dr. Stefan Wilhelmy (Service Agency Communities in One World, Engagement Global) and Rüdiger Finke (Partnership Association Mannheim). They all wished the participants a fruitful conference and a productive exchange.
The first official conference day, 18 October, was commenced by a short welcome and introduction of the program of the conference by the host Günther Kogst, followed by a presentation by Wolfgang Teubner (ICLEI Europe) on the implementation of the Agenda 2030 on the international and domestic level. Afterwards Christian Hübel (City of Mannheim, Strategic Governance) gave the participants an overview of the mission statement ‘Mannheim 2030’ and the current implementation. He pointed out that several events had already taken place, giving different actors the chance to give suggestions for the mission statement. Furthermore, he underlined that the ‘International SDG Expert Conference’ represented a chance for Mannheim to, through the input of the present experts, reinforce and advance the mission statement.
Following the keynote speeches the participants, in seven different groups, worked on the development of the current status quo. The working groups dealt with topics such as ‘International relations’, ‘Sustainable Lifestyle’ and ‘Economy’. After short thematic presentations by representatives of the city of Mannheim, the experts were asked to make recommendations and together with the representatives from Manheim develop specific goals for the city and suggest possible indicators for measuring these goals. A Gallery Walk gave the international participants the opportunity to report their experiences. The joint discussions also focused on possible facets of the sister cities Mannheim could integrate into the mission statement and how the collaboration can be intensified. The working groups continued the next day. Finally, after the working groups finished their sessions the results were presented and discussed in the plenary. Some of the drafted proposals will be implemented into the mission statement which will afterwards be proposed to the city council. After two intense days of conference the City of Mannheim could gather many interesting and helpful suggestions by the national and international experts to advance the mission statement.