EU-China NGO Twinning Program Workshop Berlin 2019

Last but not least – an intense final to seven years of the EU-China NGO Twinning Program

The week from 14 to 19 October 2019 marked the final workshop of the 2019 EU-China NGO Twinning. European and Chinese partner organizations gathered one last time for a Capacity Building and Reflection Week in Berlin. Moreover, the week concluded the seven year EU-China NGO Twinning Program funded by the Robert Bosch Stiftung and Stiftung Mercator. Stiftung Asienhaus, the Climate Action Network Europe (CAN-E) and the China Association for NGO Cooperation (CANGO) jointly organized five days of intense exchange and workshop participation.

Set during the exchange period of the Chinese program participants in Europe, the workshop week with its various side events offered opportunities to promote the  EU-China NGO Twinning Program and to facilitate future civil society partnerships. Twenty program participants attended the presentation training during the workshop, the fieldtrips and side events. More than ninety people from different Chinese and European organizations and institutions joined the open event at the Robert Bosch Stiftung’s Representative Office on the final day on October 18.

With the aim to share insights and ideas about the role of civil society organizations in all areas, the week kicked off with a discussion at the International Alumni Centre of the Robert Bosch Stiftung entitled “Monday on the Couch – Gender in Europe and China” on the October 14. The event was hosted collaboratively with the Bosch Alumni Network (BAN) at the IAC’s Community Space. Joanna Klabisch and Christian Straube from the China Program of Stiftung Asienhaus briefly introduced the role and progress of transnational feminist movements, particularly in the scope of climate change. The latter was then more deeply discussed by Isadora Cardoso from GenderCC. Cai Lingping from Health for All Beijing shed more light on the structural linkage between the efficiency of climate change policies and the inclusion of women in the formation of such policies on local and national levels.

Structural constraints, imposed by the state and society, were hereby at the center of the panel dicussion and the audience’s questions. The conversations were continued in a cozy atmosphere during the evening buffet. Generational as well as cultural aspects of gender equality processes played a not insignificant role in the discussion. The Beijing Platform for Action, a milestone for women’s rights is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2020.

During the following days, Moritz Meyer, a lecturer from the University of Hamburg, and Darren Mc Veigh, a private lawyer, exclusively conducted a presentation and interactive formats training for the EU-China NGO Twinning Program participants. The training was aimed at improving the skills and capacities of civil society organizations to communicate their goals on a local and global level. The trainers applied participatory teaching techniques, combined method training with practice and counselled twinning participants individually.

In the afternoon of October 17, the China Program of Stiftung Asienhaus had organized an exchange of the EU-China NGO Twinning Program participants with Stefan Liebich, Member of the German Parliament for the Left Party, at the Bundestag. Exchange topics included the history of Berlin, social perspectives on climate change, German climate change policies and Sino-German relations.

During a second field trip on October 18, the EU-China NGO Twinning Program participants visited the Tempelhofer Feld. The field, an airport before 2008, has ever since become a sphere of civil society engagement. At the “Almende Kontor”, Susanne Jacobs, a landscape architect and urban gardener, introduced the group to one of the largest urban gardening projects in Berlin. Citizens worked hundreds of small garden plots at the Kontor.

At the open event at the Robert Bosch Stiftung’s Berlin Representative Office, the EU-China NGO Twinning Program participants presented their exchange experiences and discussed their work in the context of European-Chinese civil society cooperation.

The introductions by Rico Böhm, Project Manager from the Robert Bosch Stiftung, Caspar Welbergen, Project Manager from the Stiftung Mercator, Joanna Klabisch and Christian Straube, Project Managers from Stiftung Asienhaus as well as by the international collaborators Zhao Daxing, Executive Director of the China Association for NGO Cooperation and Matthias Claeys Bouuart, Project Manager from the Climate Change Action Network Europe, emphasized once more the mutual gains of international civil cooperation in the spectrum of climate change as well as sustainable development. Transnational approaches and collaborations can only succeed when non-governmental organizations are provided with the space, resources and capacities to learn from each other’s expertise.

The Welcome Address was followed by three EU-China NGO Twinning Program participant presentations. Participants focused on the experiences and challenges within the NGO exchange as well as the shared practices of climate change activism in their respective local target communities.

Viktor Bjelić, Vice President of the Center for Environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina, shared his impressions about the public awareness campaigns of his Chinese Twinning NGO Laukai Conservation. The Chinese NGO invites locals for fishing and filtering activities in the nearby riverbanks to comprehensibly show them the consequences of water pollution. Together with his Twinning partner Zhang Jiayi, Project Manager at Laukai Conservation, Bjelić elaborated on the possibility to transfer this citizen-oriented approach to his own community in Banja Luka.

The following Twinning fellows, Dai Huxuan, Primary Observer from the Shanshui Conversation Centre, and Achim Hertzke, Board Member of the German BUND NRW, also each shared their respective key learning moments from the exchange program. While Dai noticed the remarkably different focus of German NGO’s on bee and wildlife preservation, Hertzke emphasized the diverse infrastructural conditions and challenges of the Chinese civil society’s working scope.

Last but not least, Wan Pak Kin, Officer at the Labour Education and Service Network, and Matthias Haberl, Education Consultant from the Austrian NGO Südwind, talked about their continued partnership experiences since participating in the EU-China NGO Twinning Program in 2018. With a focus on labor rights and the strengthening of worker’s self-organization, the Twinning fellows presented their mutual capacity building initiatives to maintain their sustainable, transborder partnership.

The session was followed by an analytical approach to transnational civil society cooperation presented by the International Civil Society Center (ICSC). The center works on strategically developing ties between Chinese and globally active civil society organizations.

Vicky Tongue, ICSC Program Manager, and Bertram Lang, Research Fellow at the Goethe-University, explored possible guidelines for Chinese-European NGO cooperation in the context of contemporary Chinese politics. Based on the outcomes from the “Scanning the Horizon” study, Tongue and Lang presented their recommendations for an efficient, global China strategy, including a cross-cutting approach, a stronger reference to UN commitments as well as new Chinese fundraising strategies despite legal restrictions in mainland China. The aim is to enable and empower civil societies to deal with the impacts of the growing influence of China on global governance and the UN system.

Oliver Radtke, Senior Project Manager from the Robert Bosch Stiftung, Joanna Klabisch and Christian Straube from Stiftung Asienhaus, opened the penal discussion on climate change and its implications for civil society. The disdussion was moderated by taz journalist and Asia Desk editor Sven Hansen. Hansen welcomed and introduced Lu Zhiyao, Program Manager from the SEE Foundation, Rebecca Freitag, UN Youth Delegate on Sustainable Development, and Julia Christian, Forest Policy Advisor at Fern. The panelists elaborated on various challenges of climate change activism, such as the potential generational gap in the prioritization of the topic, or the misuse of activist rhetoric by corporate enterprises for goals of reputation-building.

The day ended with final words by Stiftung Asienhaus. Joanna Klabisch and Christian Straube looked back at seven years of the EU-China NGO Twinning Program, its constructive challenges as well as the long-lasting, international partnerships it created. The participants, supporters and audience members concluded the evening together with an inviting buffet and more fruitful conversations.

An alumni workshop for previous participants of the EU-China NGO Twinning Program concluded the workshop week in Berlin on October 19. Former Twinning participants discussed opportunities and challenges in developing an efficient network at the International Alumni Center (IAC) of the Robert Bosch Stiftung. More than 150 people are part of the Twinning Alumni Network (TAN). Several have already started their own follow-up projects. They have contributed significantly to promoting mutual trust and an exchange of ideas between Chinese and European civil society organizations.

Capacity Building and Reflection Workshop in Vienna

In an intense and inspiring three-day workshop in Vienna/Austria, the social and environmental justice Twinners were provided with a training of rhetoric skills and input from local NGO experts. The meeting was also an opportunity to reflect on the experiences made so far and to network within the group and with alumni Twinners.

Ethos, Pathos, Logos – Presentation Training

Rhetoric Trainer Moritz Meyer

Day one started with a rhetoric workshop held by Moritz Meyer from the University of Hamburg. Three Twinning pairs were given the opportunity to improve their presentation skills in order to better convey the content, focus and intention of their work to specific audiences. They were asked to present their exchange experience and joint projects to the group. Through several rounds of feedback, they identified strong points and flaws and mapped out opportunities for improvement.

Moritz highlighted, that when designing a presentation, one should think not only about the logic and content, but also about the goal and intention of the presentation (Ethos) and about a way to make the audience care about the cause (Pathos).



Scientist and Activist Roleplay by Linghui and Andreea

Experience sharing and presentation practice – Labour Education and Service Network Hongkong and Südwind Austria








Comparisons spark an audience’s attention – Werner Bock on the status quo of HIV infections in China and Germany

Feedback through “Reflecting Teams”.








Alumni Sharing, Georgeta Mureanu

In the afternoon, Twinning Alumni Louisa (Forum Theater Enschede, Netherlands) and Georgeta Mureanu (FCASEC/Romania) presented their follow-up project with Chinese partner Evergreen – a 2016 festival on Non-formal Education Theatre in Beijing.




Visit at MP Becher’s Office

Day two of the workshop started with a visit at the office of Mrs. Ruth Becher, MP and member of the Austrian Social Democrats Party, SPÖ. A spokesperson on housing and construction, Mrs. Becher answered numerous questions on the topics of her expertise.

Twinners and MP Becher

When asked about current housing issues in Austria, she explained that as most countries, Austria is facing the global trend of urbanization, an issue the Chinese participants were especially interested in. Vienna being the main magnet for Austrians and people from all over the world. With more than 30.000 people moving to the Austrian capital each year, there is a growing demand for newly constructed and affordable housing. Until now, housing law allowed for a high percentage of social housing, that is also available for people with average middle class financial resources. However, the SPÖ is currently opposing a proposed EU-guideline, which foresees stricter income checks for tenants of social housing, thus preventing people from the middle class from renting the affordable social housing apartments. This guideline might endanger the healthy mix of tenants from all social strata and favor parallel societies.

Greening Vienna


Mag. Becher also explained that sustainable construction, e.g. with regard to heating, is a precondition for receiving government subsidies in housing construction.

Regarding environmental protection and Green projects in Vienna, the MP highlighted, that with new construction, sealed surfaces can only make up one third of the whole space designated – two thirds have to remain green space. Moreover, every tree larger than 40cm in diameter in Vienna is registered and protected. Even when they grow in private gardens, they cannot be cut down without permission from the municipal administration and adequate replacement greenery.

On waste management in Vienna, Mrs. Becher explained that waste separation is compulsory in the city. The city’s incinerator in Spittelau functions as a waste-to-energy-generator, providing around 60.000 apartments with heating. In her eyes, the incinerator was very much accepted among city dwellers. At the same time, the air quality and pollutants are constantly being monitored using sensors throughout the city, with the data being made available to all via an app.

The field trip concluded with a tour around Vienna’s most important historical sites and buildings, with our very own Twinning participant Matthias Haberl (Südwind Austria) as a fun and knowledgeable tour guide.




Day two opened with welcome remarks by Stiftung Asienhaus’ Nora Sausmikat and Joanna Klabisch as well as by Wang Xiangyi from CANGO and Judith Christ from Robert Bosch Stiftung.

Day Two – Expert Input

The second workshop day featured the refined presentations by the three Twinning groups as well as inputs from sustainable mobility expert Holger Heinfellner and non-profit organization consultant Nina Thüllen.

Sustainable Mobility: Avoiding, shifting and improving transport

Holger Heinfellner

First, Holger Heinfellner from the Austrian Environmental Agency talked about the environmental impact of mobility. He highlighted the importance of the transportation sector for all efforts to cut Green House Gas emissions and fight climate change. His institution is tasked with developing a strategy to shape a sustainable Austrian transportation system and thus help the country to reach their carbon reduction goals. They have so far devised several measures in the three action fields of avoiding, shifting and improving transport. In order to avoid transport, consumer behavior needs to be changed. At the same time the local economy is to be strengthened, as well as structures and modes of work that require little mobility, such as teleworking or teleconferencing. Shifting transportation points to developing infrastructure for more active mobility, such as cycling and walking and offering high quality public transportation, while taking space away from cars. Improving transportation is related to those trips, that can neither be avoided nor shifted to more sustainable transportation modes. These trips should be taken by vehicles and with fuels with the highest energy and resource efficiency and the lowest emissions, such as battery electric vehicles (BEV) or biofuel-run vehicles.

According to Mr. Heinfellner, NGOs are active in all three fields of shaping a sustainable mobility system, such as the VCÖ (Mobilität mit Zukunft), advocating an environmentally and socially just transportation system, or the cyclists’ and pedestrian lobby associations.

Shrinking spaces for NGOs in Austria

Mr. Heinfellner also pointed out that civil society organizations in Austria are confronted with shrinking spaces under the current conservative/far right government coalition. The main concern for environmental NGOs at the moment is a regulatory initiative, that would prevent environmental organizations with less than 100 members to be involved in environmental impact assessments. The initiative also requires all member’s full names and addresses to be provided to the environmental ministry, which many think to be a clear violation of privacy law. The Twinners, most of whom worked in big or in China’s case so called mega-cities could relate to many of the presented issues and a lively discussion on the topics mentioned took place after the input. A short summary of the presentation can be found here.

Collaboration opportunities for Chinese and European NGOs

Nina Thüllen

Mr. Heinfellner’s talk was followed by an input by Nina Thüllen, a system consultant working on empowering non-profit organizations. Nina invited the workshop participants to make use of her wide expertise of developing campaigns and NGO work on EU and an international level. As a start, she briefly outlined and visualized the law-making process on EU-level, indicating possible points of involvement for non-profit organizations. Taking Chinese-European trade relations as an example, she identified several points of involvement for European and Chinese non-profit organizations. They could lobby for similar standards regarding workers and environmental rights. In Europe, one method would be to appeal to people’s morale by exposing the situation of workers and the environmental impact of cheap production methods in China. Chinese organizations could contribute by providing pictures, videos or suitable stories relating to the joint venture productions. Moreover, with the help of a European partner organization, they could identify Members of the European Parliament working on the related topic, and send them information.

Campaign Design

With regard to planning a campaign, Nina recommended, an online guide for successful non-profit campaigns. When designing a campaign, one should first define the goal, then spend sufficient time on context and stakeholder/power analysis, build the strategy accordingly and design tactics as a last step. The talk was highly interactive and the Twinners appreciated the practical approach to campaigning/lobbying Nina advised them on.

At the end of the day an informal networking get together with visitors of the workshop concluded the event.


The last day of the Vienna Capacity Building and Reflection Workshop started early at the Heldenplatz (Vienna Centre), where Barbara awaited the Twinners for a very special kind of city tour. Shades Tours a Viennese social enterprise, organizes moving tours guided by homeless people. Because, who else could explain this difficult topic and its issues better than those affected themselves.

Shades Tour with Barbara

Meeting Barbara, a former art gallery owner who lost her business as well as her housing after incurring a substantial debt through medical bills immediately confronted the participants with their preconceptions of homeless people. While walking along the splendor of the Austrian Parliament Barbara explained backgrounds of homelessness, the statistics of it in Vienna, the social system supporting homeless people in the city and ways of recovery. While the rain forced the group into the warmth of the beautiful Viennese Café Mozart, the discussion was not hindered at all through the relocation. Barbara’s honest and personal approach to the topic abolished all shy reluctance and the group was left with a completely new perspective of Vienna and the Austrian social system.


Visiting Südwind Austria

The last stop of the day was a visit to Südwind Austria. The organization’s sub-group Südwind Niederöstereich is taking part in this year’s Twinning with their partner the Labor Education and Service Network Hongkong. The  highly professionalized and successful pairing provideda lot of local support to the Vienna workshop organizers. Visiting their office space in the city center and talking about one of their many programs cemented the thoroughly positive picture the Twinners gained of Südwind. The organization gave an input on an environmental education program they are running in schools all over Austria: Training teachers on climate change issues and providing material that many schools are lacking. Starting environmentally conscious behaviors in young children is one of the best ways to ensure sustainable attitudes in them as well as their parents.

Following the environmental input Matthias Haberl and his Twinner Kin Wan invited all to join their planned online platform dealing with global labor issues. An invitation that the Stiftung Asienhaus is sure to follow. We thank all participants for taking part in these three days full of learning, networking and reflection on the EU-China NGO Twinning and hope to see you again.

C20 Final Report – June 2017 throwback

The final report on the 2017 – C20 process under German presidency in Hamburg has been published. Through the connections Stiftung Asienhaus has been able to form by participating in several of the C20 working groups, the 2017 Twinners were invited for the two day civil society summit in Hamburg. The capacity building workshop for the Twinners in Europe therefore was likewise organized in Hamburg.

Our evaluation showed, that while the schedule was challenging, the Twinners were more than happy to be included in such a high level event. Networking with NGOs from all over the world, watching the German chancellor talk to civil society representatives, listening in on workshops across all fields and even presenting in our very own EU-China Twinning workshop were certainly worth the 5 days of constant busy work.

Read the report on the 2017 C20 by VENRO here


EU-China NGO Twinning at C20 – A Capacity-Building Workshop in Hamburg 2017

What kind of world do we want to live in?

In a complex, organizational feat between VENRO and Stiftung Asienhaus and its’ partners, this year’s Capacity Building Workshop in Europe had been integrated and planned around the Civil Society 20 (C 20) in Hamburg.

Before the C20 summit started, the Twinning partners underwent three intensive days of team building, project refinement, intercultural training and capacity building. On Saturday the 17th of June, a series of talks on a range of topics from ‘The role of NGO’s on a global level’ to ‘Lobbying in Brussels from a NGO perspective’ were given to provide the twinners with additional input on the European NGO work. At the end of the day the European twinners also participated in an intercultural training workshop to prepare them for their Twinning in China, while the Chinese participants enjoyed a field trip to “Die Schlumper”, an organization working social inclusion and artistic development of disabled people.

EU-China NGO Twinning at the C20

As part of this year’s capacity building workshop, the 2017 twinners joined the over 300 international NGOs meeting at the C20 in Hamburg. Representatives of civil society organizations have been meeting and working on the demands to the G20 leaders which have been handed over in form of a communiqé to Chancellor Merkel on Monday 19th.

The Twinning organized one of many workshops during the C20, talking about Gender and Community based approaches to participatory water and energy management as well as investment and urban development plans along the Belt Road Initiative.

NDR report on C20 here

2016 EU-China NGO Twinning Program Capacity Building and Reflection Week in Berlin

How do civil society organizations campaign in Europe, how can it be compared to campaigning in China’s restricted media landscape? What are the hot topics of NGOs in Europe and in China? What can Chinese and European NGOs learn from each other?p1010579-2

A week of field trips, political discussions and information exchanges about various NGO experiences in Europe and China awaited participants on a visit to Berlin from October 31 to November 4, with expert input that covered topics like civil society involvement in urbanization processes, trade agreements, environmental litigation and sustainable living.

2016 Changsha Capacity Building Seminar: Climate Change, Social and Environmental Justice

2016 EU-China NGO Twinning Program Capacity and Experience Sharing Workshop held in Changsha


From August 18th to 21st, 2016, Stiftung Asienhaus, China Association for NGO Co-operation (CANGO), and sCAN Europe jointly organized a 4-day workshop on capacity building and experience sharing among European and Chinese NGOs in Changsha, Hunan province. This workshop was co-organized by P8, a social enterprise working on the testing, prototyping and up-scaling of sustainable communities P8 is located on the low carbon campus of the BROAD Group (an air condition enterprise). More than 50 participants from China, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Latvia, Portugal, Bulgaria, France, and England joined the meetings.

Climate change, social and environmental justice Conference Report – Capacity Building Workshop, Brussels 2015

On the 3rd and 4th of November 2015 the European and Chinese NGOs of this year’s Twinning-program gathered in the facilities of Mundo B in Brussels. In this third year of Twinning exchange, the  capacity building workshop for the first time was hosted by  Stiftung Asienhaus in cooperation with CAN Europe. For the first time, the workshop also included not only the 14 Social and environmental justice Twinners, but also the 5 Climate Change themed NGO partnershipsTaking advantage of being located in Brussels, the EU capital, the workshop aimed at informing the participants about EU-China relations,-structures and institutions of the European Union as well as current European topics of discussion.

Tackling Common Issues – Reports from Chinese and European NGOs

Twinning seminar on 22.10.2014, Berlin

On 22nd of October, the seminar “Tackling common issues: Chinese and European NGOs working on bank monitoring, zero-waste, agriculture, chemical safety, climate change, and NGO-training” was organized by the Stiftung Asienhaus in cooperation with Bread for the World in Berlin.

During this workshop the Chinese and European participants of this year’s second round of NGO Twinning exchange introduced their organizations and common work focus. They also presented the results of their cooperation and reflected on the impact of the exchanges.

Environmental Advocacy and Citizens’ Self-Organization in Europe and China – Capacity Building Seminar for Chinese Twinners in Berlin



On the 20th of October 2014 the Chinese NGO Twinners gathered in a conference room at the newspaper die tageszeitung (taz) to hear presentations on developments and challenges European NGO’s are confronted with. Providing the participating organizations with information on environmental and social topics in the respective other region is one of the main goals of the EU-China NGO Twinning.